Nancy Wake is a larger-than-life character: a journalist, secret agent, and military leader fighting Nazi forces during World War II. Her outlandish behavior and amazing accomplishments seem almost incongruent to the time, perhaps unbelievable, until you realize this story is, in fact, a biography. While some details diverge, the real Nancy Wake led a life as large and thrilling as this novel delivers. We quickly watch her leave her adopted home of Marseilles, where she led a life of luxury while secretly fighting SS forces, to her time in the Auvergne as a member of the British Special Operations Executive, where she eventually trains and leads a ground army of French resistance fighters. The novel focuses its time on this later period of action and transformation, although it appears Nancy offers an entire life rich with storytelling promise.
Interior challenges are there, but this novel is most thrilling with the varied and engrossing action, detailing different fights with German and SS troops led by Nancy and her recruits. An SS leader serves as a composite antagonist, and various supporting characters, such as Nancy’s friend Denden, a gay radio operator, enrich the world and provide a human component to cheer for in the battles. There is a cinematic quality to the novel, which provides highly visual and thrilling action sequences, so it is no surprise to learn it is already being adapted for the screen. Recommend for fans of World War II fiction or any reader looking for an exciting, action-filled glimpse into the life of an extraordinary, and until recently unknown, historical figure.