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The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
A very good WW2 spy novel that reads with lots of suspense. Well developed characters create a story that is both dynamic and engrossing. I definitely will be reading the next book in the series. Highly recommended. ( )
  nevans1972 | May 3, 2016 |
I’ve read some of all the espionage masters — Le Carré, Greene, Littell — but don’t remember ever reading a book with a female spy as the lead. When I encountered The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, with a cover blurb from Alan Massie that said “As good as le Carré”, I had to try it.

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Marian Sutro is a young woman, half British and half French, with a command of French, a taste for adventure, and a restlessness that makes her jump at a chance for an unspecified, clandestine opportunity to help Britain in the war (World War II). Before she knows it she is in training as a spy, jumping out of airplanes, and exploring her first fumbling experiences of sex. And Marian turns out to have a taste and a talent for firearms.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is much more in the vein of Alan Furst than Le Carré. There’s little in the way of the moral ambiguity or the creeping sense that there aren’t any good guys or bad guys, just shades of grey, the calling card of Le Carré. Rather, this is WWII and the bad guys are bad and the good guys are good, if a bit unfussy about methods. The first half of the book is leisurely — it’s not until halfway through that Marian finally graduates from training and does a parachute jump into the French countryside. There are a lot of atmospherics, which makes one think of Furst, capturing the sense of wartime, even as events themselves move slowly. But the second half of the book accelerates, the tension rises, and Marian’s recklessness increases. The rendering of a female spy who is reckless to the point of irrationality, but is still a believable character, is something unique I don’t think I’ve encountered in the dozens of espionage novels I’ve read.

I really enjoyed this book (although “as good as Le Carré” is over stating things) — I’m very much looking forward to Tightrope, the sequel.

(Note: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky was published in the UK; it appeared in the US under the title Trapeze — not sure why they ditched such an awesome title). ( )
  viking2917 | Apr 3, 2016 |
I appreciate the author’s obvious research into WWII in France, the Resistance movement, and women in SOE operations. I really got into the danger of the situations and the intensity of the secretive and suspenseful events. That intensity is vital to spy thrillers and Mawer delivers here. I especially liked some of the details in how Marian performed her Resistance work like delivering the radio crystals. Clever!

I did find it a bit hard to connect with Marian, though. I found her cold and distant at times. Given some of the situations she was in and the circumstances of the world at the time, I guess I could see where she might keep her emotions buttoned down. But far too often I had to wonder at her calm reserve.

Also, let me just say….. Holy crap, that ending!!! My brain imploded when I read the last few paragraphs and not in a good way. It’s a MASSIVE cliffhanger and one that has no foreshadowing that it was coming (at least to my piddlely little brain). I hate when books do this, especially with no indication that a follow up book will be coming down the tailpipe. The book lost a star right there.

Mawer does a great job in bringing Nazi-occupied France to life and making us live the struggle for freedom and liberation. The main character is hard at times to connect with, portraying a cold exterior. But I think that could be due to the time and circumstances. But that ending…. Oy vey!! Just be forewarned going in that you’ll be tempted to chuck the book at the wall. So not a bad read but not the best either. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
"Trapeze" (US title, the more appealing Brit title is "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky"), and I enjoyed it very much. It's 1943, Marian in her very early 20's is fluent in French and recruited by the Brits for some work in France. Good writing - Mawer was short-listed for a Booker a few years ago - good story-telling and plenty of tension. "Trapeze" came in at about 370 pages, "Tightrope" about 517, and I will tackle it in the spring. Hopefully Mawer will write a third whose title doesn't begin with "T" and is not a circus word.

If Hitchcock had done serials, he would have loved the ending of "Trapeze" and used it somewhere....I finished "Trapeze" the same night I watched the end of the 1/9/16 Steelers-Bengals playoff game where the Steelers won after Cincinnati had the lead, the ball, a first-down, less than two minutes to play, and the injured Steeler QB on the bench. I would say that the "Trapeze" ending was more stunning. ( )
  maneekuhi | Jan 10, 2016 |
I was given the sequel, Tightrope, to this book but hadn't read this one so I wanted to get to it first, and I'm quite glad I did. As Hitler tries to take over the world, this young woman is recruited in England to be part of an espionage network, dangerous work to say the least. And at first, it seems like it will be a bit of a lark.

The story moved along rapidly, with lots of interesting characters. I especially appreciated the bits of history women into the story, and found the parts about the development of the atomic bomb to be fascinating. The ethics of war, what is right, what is wrong even during war, is part of the story. That this is a fictionalized about of real women involved in this undercover work made it all the better.

This story ended on a cliffhanger, and while the book was satisfying in itself, I can't wait to dig into Tightrope. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Oct 26, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Pour vivre heureux, vivons caches - Florian
The French Section of the special Operations Executive sent thirty-nine women into the field between May 1941 and September 1944. Of these, twelve were murdered following their capture by the Germans while one other died of meningitis during her mission. The remainder survived the war. Some of these women became well known to the public through films and books that were written about them. Others remained, and remain, obscure. They were all remarkable.
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To the memory of Colette, one of the women of SOE
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She's sitting in the fuselage, trussed up like a piece of baggage, battered by noise.
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At the age of 19, fluent-French-speaking Briton Marian Sutro is recruited for service in the Special Operations Executive during World War II, only to find that another secret organization wants her to infiltrate Paris to persuade a research physicist to join the Allied war effort.… (more)

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