Barely out of school and doing her bit for the British war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that makes her stand out--she is a native French speaker. Read more...
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Barely out of school and doing her bit for the British war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that makes her stand out--she is a native French speaker. It is this that attracts the attention of the SOE, the Special Operations Executive, which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. Drawn into this strange, secret world at the age of nineteen, she finds herself undergoing commando training, attending a "school for spies," and ultimately, one autumn night, parachuting into France from an RAF bomber to join the WORDSMITH resistance network.
But there's more to Marian's mission than meets the eye of her SOE controllers; her mission has been hijacked by another secret organization that wants her to go to Paris and persuade a friend--a research physicist--to join the Allied war effort. The outcome could affect the whole course of the war.
A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, "Trapeze "is both an old-fashioned adventure story and a modern exploration of a young woman's growth into adulthood. There is violence, and there is love. There is death and betrayal, deception and revelation. But above all there is Marian Sutro, an ordinary young woman who, like her real-life counterparts in the SOE, did the most extraordinary things at a time when the ordinary was not enough.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-03-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Mawer follows his Man Booker–shortlisted The Glass Room with another WWII novel based on the fascinating true story of Englishwomen whose French-language fluency led them to be deployed, via parachute, into France as agents of the resistance. The young Marian Sutro is one such woman, recruited to join the mission that gives Mawer his title, which sends her behind enemy lines in occupied France and connects her with loves both old and new. Though Marian’s naïveté and willful carelessness make her an improbable operative, her (somewhat convenient) ties to scientists researching the atomic bomb put her in a powerful and dangerous position. Slow to start (Marian’s drop into France comes well into the story), the novel picks up when she navigates the dangerous world of occupied Paris, constantly questioning who she can trust and who will betray her. While the history behind this story is captivating, Mawer’s take unfolds with inertia, is leaden with research that often feels unnecessary to the story, and is plagued with undeveloped characters, particularly his young heroine. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)