Historical Fiction

Book Review – Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

 

 

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: None
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication Date: 3/31/2020
Pages: 464

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis –

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.

My Opinion – 

I am sitting here, hands hovering over the keyboard, trying to figure out how in the world I am going to put into words how much I enjoyed this book!

This book alternates time periods, but it all takes place between the 1930’s – 1940’s. The book opens on February 29, 1944, “Leap Day”. Hélène is preparing to jump out of an airplane and into France, but before she can do that she must first apply her red lipstick. It is her armor and she is a saboteur, she is there to help the resistance in any way she can.

Flashback to 1936 and Hélène is Nancy, an Australian journalist working for the Hearst Newspaper in Paris. She loves her job, but it ruffles her feathers that her name will not appear on any of her stories in the paper, Hearst refuses to publish the name of its female journalist. I’d like to see how that would go over in today’s world!

This book has it all – suspense, intrigue, romance, so much more! I absolutely love Hélène AKA Nancy. She is honest, brazen, gutsy, and persuasive. She speaks first and thinks later. This book is intense and addicting, I was so enthralled I could hardly bear to pull myself away from it.

I love that it is based on a real person, place, and events. The Author’s Note at the end is fascinating. She tells the reader what was real and where she needed to make changes in order to create a more fluid story. This book reminds me why I love historical fiction so much. Learning about people, places, and/or events that I had not heard of previously, even with fictional liberty taken, brings me so much joy.

Code Name Hélène shot right up to the top of my favorite books I have read so far this year!

*Thank you Doubleday Books for the opportunity to read and review this book via NetGalley for my honest opinion.

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15 thoughts on “Book Review – Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

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