Mawer’s book, The Glass Room, was a complete winner for me when I read it in 2009 so I had no hesitations in picking up his new book, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Even though I finished the book at the end of last month I am going to cheat a little and include it in my Paris in July reading list as so much of the book took place in Paris and rural France.
I can’t say that I found The Girl Who Fell From the Sky quite as captivating and original as The Glass Room but it was still a wonderful read.The book is set during WW2, the main character Marian Sutro is a young half British/half French woman working for a war department in London when she approached by a secret agency to train for undercover work in France. It all seems a little surreal and convenient the way she is recruited but I guess that is how things were done?? I would like to read some actual accounts from women who had worked in these sorts of positions and agencies during war time to compare - although I am sure Mawer did his research. As well as her role as an undercover agent there is very much a personal side to Marian’s story as her arrival in Paris during the German occupation brings her into direct contact with a past family friend and potential lover, Clement.
There are all the elements of a traditional spy story here with undercover missions, double agents and a feeling on behalf of the reader that we are never really quite sure who’s side everyone is on. But there is also very much the coming of age story of Marian.
Beautiful, tight prose keep the story moving and although this book didn’t hold the same magic as The Glass Room for me it was still a fantastic story with characters to cling to.