Code Name Hélène

Code Name Hélène

A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition
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"Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name. It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she--and the people she loves - will become."--Publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2020]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780385544689
Branch Call Number: FICTION LAWHON
Characteristics: 450 pages : map ; 24 cm


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Sep 21, 2020

The author classifies this as a story about marriage and sacrifice. There is an abundance of both. Based on the true life exploits of Nancy Wake, an Australian woman with tremendous passion, bravery, and commitment, we follow her primarily during her years as a member of the French Resistance effort and then as the military leader of the Maquis, an armed resistance group formed to sabotage the Vichy and the German forces. Woven throughout is also the very romantic story of her marriage to Henri, who remains in Marseilles to deal with occupied life while Nancy rallies the fighters in the countryside. Highly recommended for the balance of the two themes and the cliff hanging pace!

JCLBetM Aug 07, 2020

Nancy Wake is definitely a fascinating woman, so I'm glad to learn her story. However, this is the second book of Lawhon's I've read that hasn't satisfied my anticipation. Somehow she doesn't tap into the emotion of the story for me--she seems to have all the elements but somehow still misses the heart. It's definitely a decent WWII historical fiction read, just didn't land of my favorites list.

Aug 05, 2020

A thoroughly enjoyable read based on Nancy Wake's time in France as a resistance fighter. Having read her biography it was embellished as fiction is. I loved the realistic characters in the book except for Marceline who didn't ring true to me. Not surprisingly the author noted at the end of the book that she was an amalgam of people in Nancy's life during that time. That was my only disappointment while reading it.

Aug 03, 2020

I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially around women in world wars, so this ticked several boxes for me. Cleverly written as it jumps between years and characters so that too much isn't given away until necessary. The follow-up after taking about Nancy Wake's life gave some good suggestions for additional reading. An emotional read.

BetsyG1 Jul 20, 2020

Another great World War II historical fiction with a strong female main character.

Jul 11, 2020

Having never heard of the protagonist before reading this, I grew impatient and looked her up online shortly after starting the book. That was a mistake: this is a well-crafted and paced book, and I regret learning too much to soon. A gripping true story that is told in a straightforward manner: Nancy Wake’s story stands up for itself, very few anachronisms appear.

Apr 26, 2020

One of the best things about historical fiction is meeting historical figure about whom I knew nothing. Nancy Wake, Australian by birth, French by choice, British spy by necessity. Her heroism during World War II is an interesting story. Chapters are well titled to know when they take place as her story moves back and forth from a journalist stationed in Paris before the war and the strange turn it took during the war. Sometimes I wonder if there were ever any average looking women who made good spies, but again, a woman’s beauty makes them more attractive to enemies they were trying to engage. Beauty, brains and bravery were Nancy Wake’s attributes and she used them well. How she kept her separate identities during the war as a spy is an interesting story.

Mar 24, 2020

Nancy Augusta Wake was a force. She was passionate in her love for her dear husband, Henri, and her determination to defeat the Nazis. Lawhon describes her as a"bold, bawdy, and brazen woman." You cannot help but fall in love with her despite her drinking and swearing habits. She killed a Nazi with her bare hands! The book begins with dual timelines: 1944 when Nancy is dropped on a field in France to support the Maquis; and in 1939 when she witnesses the atrocities of the Nazis firsthand in the square in Vienna. This is an incredible story and Lawhon has taken the time to do her research giving us much more fact than fiction. If you love an epic love story set against the backdrop of WW II, this book is for you. If you love to see a woman rise to the occasion and lead men out in the midst of war, this book is for you. "I Was Anastasia" was a very good read, but this new book from Lawhon is phenomenal.

debwalker Feb 26, 2020

Powerful story of courage and nerve in occupied France. Wish these stories had been told when the real life heroines were still alive.


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