Code Name Hélène – Book Review

by Ariel Lawhon


Code Name Hélène book coverPublication Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Hardcover: 464 Pages

BASED ON THE THRILLING REAL-LIFE STORY OF SOCIALITE SPY NANCY WAKE, comes Code Name Hélène, 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.


Hélène is a reporter at the early part of the war. She meets and marries Henri, the love of her life. He is sent to protect the Maginot line. While he is gone, she drives an ambulance and ends up, in a convoluted way, with the resistance. She helped change the history of WWII. And because of all her undercover activities, she saved a multitude of lives.

When this story began, I was in awe of Hélène. And I pretty much stayed that way through the whole book. This woman was a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. However, the story is a little muddled, especially in the middle. But, boy am I glad I read it. I learned so much! What an amazing lady and an amazing story of her life.

I received Code Name Hélène from the publisher for an honest review.

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