Saturday, September 22, 2012

Girl Who Fell From the Sky-Simon Mawer

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky-Simon Mawer
Trapeze in the US

the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 302
gender: M
nationality: UK
year: 2012
Novel

"Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause."

I loved the character of Marian. Strong heroine with flaws and strengths like the rest of us except that she is a British spy in France. She is relatable, brave, and struggling to make sense of the many layers of intrigue and danger she is in as a Special Operative. She makes good decisions, she makes bad decisions and she worries about love and the past. As a fellow multinational I empathized with her struggles to understand who she is within an international conflict and at the end of the book I cared, a lot, about who was going to end up with and how her career was going to pan out. It's her coming of age story and it's a good dramatic one embedded with most of the elements of a good spy novel.

The book is well-researched and to my non-specialist framepoint accurate but something about the settings didn't ring true for me. It was like Mawer was always saying how dangerous Paris was but not actually showing it. It's like when my relatives tell me I really need to not go to 34th and Walnut in Philadelphia and I know it was a dangerous area in the 1970s but I don't really see the danger (this is perhaps a bad example because it's really not a dangerous part of Philly anymore thanks to UPENN police but I hope you sort of see my point). When I read Half Blood Blues, the danger of occupied Paris was so acute but when I read Mawer's prose, I didn't feel it.
Nevertheless, the heroine. She's great!

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