It's 1946 and a young widow named Grace Healey stumbles upon a suitcase left under a bench in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. At the same moment, a former British special agent named Eleanor Trigg is hit by a car outside the station and killed instantly. What follows next is a tangled web of intrigue, espionage, heartbreak and heroism.
Turning back the clock to 1943, Eleanor Trigg recruits Marie Roux for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) working with the French resistance as an undercover radio operator. Eleanor has developed a training and deployment program for female spies in occupied France during WWII. The young women are smart, multilingual and brave. The work is unnerving, treacherous and death defying. The novel traces back and forth between the stories of Marie, Eleanor and Grace, culminating in an ending that, like the results of the actual war, left me uncertain, sad, and wanting more answers.
Highly readable, discussable, and already topping many must-read lists for 2019.
The publishing industry is exploding with female spy stories, fiction and fact. The Lost Girls of Paris is just one of many new books about female World War II spies published in 2019. Others include:
- Code Name Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis
- D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose
- The Lady is a Spy: Virginia Hall World War II Hero of the French Resistance by Don Mitchell
- Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson
- Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin
- Resistance Women: A Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini
- Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer L. Ryan
- A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell
I would be remiss if I didn't also mention The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, published in 2017. A popular choice for book groups and endorsed by Reese Witherspoon, The Alice Network is set in 1915 and 1947, during WWI and post WWII following the intertwined lives of Charlie St. Clair, a sassy pregnant and unmarried American and Eve Gardiner, a drunk and damaged former British spy under the direction of Lili, the "Queen of Spies" who runs the Alice Network. Charlie and Eve are connected to the Alice Network and its system of secret agents in a surprising and heart wrenching twist. I've already got Mistress of the Ritz on my upcoming "to be read" pile and Spies of Shilling Lane after that. There are enough books here to keep me reading well into 2020.