It’s post-war 1946 and young widow Grace Healey is running late for work. As she takes a shortcut through Grand Central Station, she discovers an abandoned suitcase under a bench. In it, she finds photographs of 12 women and something compels her to take them with her. Once Grace learns that the owner, Eleanor Trigg, was killed in an accident that morning, she returns to get the suitcase but it’s gone. As she continues to investigate Eleanor’s life and the identities of the women in those photos, Grace uncovers the story of a secret group of women spies who worked undercover in France on behalf of the British government during World War II.
This is a fictional version of the true story of a female British intelligence officer and the women under her charge in the French section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The story transitions between 1944 and 1946, told from Grace and Eleanor’s perspectives, as well as from one of the agents, Marie Roux. The fate of these women following the Allied invasion was unknown and Grace, with the help of a friend, slowly unravels the details. The three narratives provide the full scope of the intrigue with Marie’s account of what was going on in France; Eleanor’s navigation of the management, politics and covert methods of the program; and Grace’s patchwork of what ultimately happened. It was well crafted, the story riveting and intriguing throughout, especially since I was completely unfamiliar with this aspect of World War II.
I love the use of multiple narrators when the story dictates it and I thought the performances were well done, especially those for Eleanor and Marie. I wasn’t as enamored of that for Grace as she sounded a bit more “frivolous” than the character was designed, less serious than she was portrayed. Otherwise, it was an overall exceptional performance.
I read historical fiction in the hopes of learning something and this book delivered well beyond my expectations. My husband is a history buff and he was aware of this unit and the woman on whom Eleanor is based (Vera Atkins). His understanding of the true events supports the author’s points of view, which made it even more credible in my eyes. I’m really glad I opted for the audio version as Eleanor and Marie’s narratives added a level of excitement and intrigue that were heightened through the storytelling. I’m so glad the author decided to tell the story of these brave, resourceful women, even if in the telling we had to learn the distasteful facts surrounding their fate. It’s a story everyone should know.
- Release Date: January 29, 2019
- Narrators: Elizabeth Knowelden, Henrietta Meire & Candace Thaxton
- Audio Length: 11 hours, 41 minutes
- Publisher: Harlequin Audio
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(Thanks to Harlequin Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)