Code Name Hélène – Book Review

by Ariel Lawhon

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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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About the author

Ariel Lawhon is a critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction. She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), I WAS ANASTASIA (2018), and the CODE NAME HÉLÈNE (2020). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, Amazon Spotlight, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four sons. Ariel splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.

For more about Ariel, check her website HERE!

Praise

Ariel Lawhon delivers in Code Name Hélène. This fully animated portrait of Nancy Wake— underground operative, charmer in red lipstick, loving wife, and hard-hitting woman of her times, 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
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“Fascinating”
NEW YORK POST “REQUIRED READING”

“A spellbinding work of historical fiction. . . [and] one of the most sensual romance novels you’ve ever read. . . She is real, this really did happen is the mantra you may find yourself repeating, in awe of every page.”BOOKPAGE, *STARRED*

“A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.” KIRKUS REVIEW, *STARRED*

“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, *STARRED*

“Readers will be transfixed by the story of a woman who should be a household name.”LIBRARY JOURNAL *STARRED*

“Riveting. . . [A] stunning, moving story.”—BOOKREPORTER.COM
 
“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


“Captivating. . . [Lawhon] sweeps readers into Nancy’s wry, fast-talking, first-person account of her adventures. . . While Nancy cuts a vivid, stylish figure through the novel’s pages, her supporting case is also well drawn [and] Lawhon’s elegant plotting makes them shine. . .Lawhon’s gripping narrative gives ‘Hélène’ her due.”SHELF AWARENESS

“Gripping…Lawhon throws readers into the middle of the action… Lawhon’s vivid, fast-paced narrative will keep readers turning the pages, and a detailed afterword makes plain how much of the account is factual. This entertaining tale does justice to Lawhon’s larger-than-life subject.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


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