I have a confession to make. For the past four nights, I have been working late into the night in the French resistance. As my partner slept soundly next to me, I was Nancy Wake drinking a French 75 in Paris. I was Mrs. Fiocci training for WWII on Inverie Bay in Scotland, Lucienne Carter aiding escape into the Pyrenees, Madame Andre in command of seven thousand French resistance troops in the hills of rural France. I was Hélène with a grenade in my purse on market day in Montluçon. I was all of those people combined into one, strong, irreverent woman nicknamed “The White Mouse” by the Germans… because I always escaped capture.
Alright, I was not those people. But what was I? Completely engrossed and utterly captivated by this book. I still can’t believe what I just read was based on a real person. I’ve been at work for the past six hours, and I have not been able to concentrate on what I’m doing.
Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon is about a real woman, Nancy Wake, who became an undercover agent for the French resistance. As she did in I Was Anastasia, Lawhon takes an interesting character in history and draws her experiences out into a dramatic tale, at times funny and other times completely anxiety-inducing. What a story, told by one incredible storyteller.
In addition to completely ruining my sleep, I have entirely redefined my relationship with lipstick. Because when Nancy said, “mine is the fury that requires two coats of lipstick and a fully loaded revolver,” I know I have found my patron saint of womanhood.
?????/5 stars, definitely in my top five books of 2020. I hope you read this book and enjoy it as much as I did. I can guarantee you will not be bored for one second.
Looking for a few more books that take place in France? Here are some I love:
- A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
- Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for a chance to read a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.