As a kid I used to get dragged around to a lot of Civil War battlefields because my parents were Civil War nuts. I went the opposite direction and got really into castles and the Olympic gods. In college I focused on studying ancient Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages, which I am currently lucky enough to be teaching. I was always so stuck in the far past that I didn't focus much on more recent history until I started getting into movies about the Edwardian Period in England through WWII. I am absolutely fascinated and moved by WWII. Clearly living during that time must have been horrifyingly scary but looking back on life during that time period always interests me.
Because of this, the description for Trapeze, made me buy it instantly. It was one of amazon's top books of May and I couldn't wait to finish stupid Swamplandia! to get started with this.
Trapeze is the story of Marion Sutro, a young woman born to a British diplomat and a French woman. She was raised in Geneva, but spent time in both England and French, so naturally she speaks French fluently. She works for the war effort, monitoring attacks and troops around the world. I think it's 1942, so the Blitz was over. Anyway, she is recruited by a mysterious agency to be a spy for the British in France. The first 30 or 40% of the book covers her training. Marion is taught how to fight, use weapons and explosives, disguise herself, and she's an absolute natural.
Marion is assigned to southwestern France to help the people there. However, another higher up, more secretive group drafts her to go to Paris, which is of course incredibly dangerous. There she is supposed to contact her old childhood crush, Clement, who is a physicist. This was the time before the atomic bomb was dropped. A lot of scientists across Europe were working to develop a weapon on a massive scale that could wide out a city. Several scientists have already escaped to England, but Marion has to convince Clement to go back to England.
Marion is really interesting. She is bright and can get herself into and out of a ton of tense situations. I knew there were spies during WWII but never really thought about women who risked their lives to help occupied France. This was a fascinating look into a piece of history I didn't know a lot about.
I'm not saying any more than that because I really loved this book and want people to read it. Let's just say that the plot is really interesting but once Marion parachutes into France, things get real... and tense. The book was so suspenseful. I had no idea what was going to happen to her at the end of the story but when I finally got to the end, I literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I was completely surprised by the turn that the book had taken, which I really admired. This was one where I never once guessed how it would end.
I can't recommend it enough!
Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble.