The Tiger Claw
Set in World War II Europe, this novel is “inspired by” the life of Noor Inayat Khan – code name “Madeleine” in the Resistance. The descendant of Tipu Sultan (the “Tiger of Mysore”), daughter of a Sufi mystic and an American mother, brilliant, sensitive, creative, brave, and beautiful, Noor was an SOE operative who, when her network was betrayed to the Gestapo, remained in Paris because she was the only Resistance radio operator left in northern France. Knowing the information she sent was vital, she transmitted until the last possible moment; until the Gestapo arrested her.
Noor Inayat Khan died in Dachau. She was thirty years old.
The Tiger Claw tells Noor’s story. According to the author, it “begins from fact but departs quickly into imagination, bending time…rearranging or inventing some events” to “feel what may have been in her [Noor’s] heart.” She’s given Noor a secret lover, who is, of course, Jewish, and a sexual past that I found unconvincing. This illicit love drives Noor’s return to France and her actions there. While the book is beautifully written, I didn’t like its portrayal of Noor. I recommend it for its subject, however, with the hope that readers will go on to learn more about the women of the SOE who helped “set Europe ablaze.” (http://www.64-baker-street.org/ is a good place to start.)