Book Talk: Code Name Hélène: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon
"Ariel Lawhon delivers in Code Name Hélène. This fully animated portrait of Nancy Wake... will fascinate readers of World War II history and thrill fans of fierce, brash, independent women, alike. A stark exploration of the remarkable difference one person, willing to rise in the face of fear, can make."
— LISA WINGATE, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
About the Book
BASED ON THE THRILLING REAL-LIFE STORY OF SOCIALITE SPY NANCY WAKE, comes the newest feat of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia, featuring the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.
Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.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 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 Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border and earns a new nickname from the Gestapo for her remarkable ability to evade capture: THE WHITE MOUSE. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, she is told to use the name HÉLÈNE with her comrades. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉE, where she claims her place as 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.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon's best book to date." —KIRKUS REVIEW
“ Magnificent. . . Lawhon carries us into the heart of the French resistance [and] into the mind of a badass heroine with uncanny instincts who takes on the Nazis and men’s arrogant sexism with uncommon bravado. . . Even long after the last page is turned, this astonishing story of Wake’s accomplishments will hold readers in its grip.” —BOOKLIST
“Masterful. . . Exhaustively researched and vividly woven. . . As much an epic love story as an engrossing narrative of an unlikely anti-Nazi combatant. . . Lawhon has proven herself a master at her craft, and she does readers a great service with Code Name Hélène.” —CHAPTER16
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ARIEL LAWHON is a critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, a black Lab, and a deranged cat.