The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer
Simon Mawer is an extraordinary writer so it is no wonder his previous novel, The Glass Room, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His latest novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, is set during the Second World War and it follows the adventures of a young woman, Marian Sutro who is recruited by the SOE to go undercover in France. Half French, half British, Marian goes through her training and then she is parachuted into south-west France – although her real destination is Paris and reuniting with a nuclear physicist and old family friend. To make matters more complicated the readers learn that Marion has loved this particular physicist since she was an adolescent, and there is some doubt about her true reasons for joining the SOE. And as time progresses the pressure of always being on guard takes its toll, and despite being a strong woman, there is an increasing sense that Marian has begun to unravel emotionally.
This novel has it all – wonderful action, complex and intriguing characters, a real sense of place and time, as well as exploring themes of patriotism, betrayal and love. The danger is palpable, the action heart-stopping, the ending profoundly moving.