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A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance

***A New York Times bestseller***

‘Purnell’s account of Hall’s hectic, amphetamine-fuelled exploits never falters. It recalls Caroline Moorehead’s wonderful book, Village of Secrets but has an added touch of Ben Macintyre’s brio … A rousing tale of derring-do’ The Times Book of the Week

‘Riveting … one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines’ Sarah Helm, author of A Life in Secrets

In 1942, the Gestapo would stop at nothing to track down a mysterious ‘limping lady’ who was fighting for the freedom of France. The Nazi chiefs issued a simple but urgent command: ‘She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.’

The Gestapo’s target was Virginia Hall, a glamorous American with a wooden leg who broke through the barriers against her gender and disability to be the first woman to infiltrate Vichy France for the SOE. In so doing she helped turn the course of the intelligence war.

This is the epic tale of an heiress who determined that a hunting accident would not define her existence; a young woman who gambled her life to fight for the freedoms she believed in; an espionage novice who helped to light the flame of French Resistance.

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall, an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance and personal triumph over shocking adversity.

‘A gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer’ Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist


‘A fitting and moving tribute to an amazing woman’ The Economist
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Genre: Humanities / History / History: Earliest Times To Present Day / 20th Century History: C 1900 To C 2000

On Sale: 28th March 2019

Price: £20

ISBN-13: 9780349010151

Reviews

A gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer
Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist
Purnell's account of Hall's hectic, amphetamine-fuelled exploits never falters. It recalls Caroline Moorehead's wonderful book, Village of Secrets, but has an added touch of Ben Macintyre's brio ... A rousing tale of derring-do'
Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times, Book of the Week
Fascinating! careful research and skilful writing, Sonia Purnell, in A Woman of No Importance, takes you deep into the covert operations Hall led in Nazi-occupied France, first for the British and then for the Americans. Readers will find this tale of her cunning and courage riveting
Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage
This true tale of courage will take your breath away
Best
Excellent . . . Purnell's meticulous research into Hall's life and work has taken her not only through British SOE papers and resistance files in France, but also through nine levels of security at the CIA in Langley
Spectator
Purnell's extensive research brings the facts of Virginia's life into brilliant focus
Jane Shilling, Evening Standard
An incredible story of under-appreciated heroism
USA Today
A cracking story of an extraordinarily brave woman . . . extraordinarily well-researched . . . thrilling
Anne de Courcy, Telegraph
Virginia Hall was considered the most dangerous of all the Allieds' spies by the Nazis - and her the untold story of the American with a wooden leg who became the French Resistance's key intelligence contact is finally revealed
Independent
Riveting ... one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines ... An intimate and moving portrayal
Sarah Helm, author of If This Is A Woman and A Life In Secrets
Brimming with moving tales of courage in the face of tyranny, this is a worthy tribute to an incredible figure
Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror
Gripping . . . With this book, the true extent of Hall's heroic contribution to the war effort is known at last
Jane Warren, Express
A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance
NPR
Purnell mixes telling detail with narrative verve to convey both the excitements of Hall's precarious existence and the force of her indomitable spirit
Mail on Sunday
Impressively researched and compellingly written, this brilliant biography puts Virginia Hall - and her prosthetic leg Cuthbert - back where they belong: right in the heart of resistance history
Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved and The Women Who Flew for Hitler
Courage, resourcefulness, ingenuity: Hall possessed them all, and in Purnell she has found the ideal biographer
Tablet
Remarkable ... this lively examination... shows how, if Hall had been a man, dropping undercover in and out of occupied Vichy, Paris, and Lyon, setting up safe houses, and coordinating couriers for the Resistance, she would now be as famous as James Bond... Meticulous research results in a significant biography of a trailblazer who now has a CIA building named after her
Kirkus Reviews
It is easy to see why Hollywood is showing interest in Purnell's account of Hall, an authentic heroine who was also American, disabled and a woman. "Marie" thoroughly deserved her laurels
Max Hastings, Sunday Times
With her thriller-writer's style and copious new research, Purnell has written a fitting and moving tribute to an amazing woman
The Economist
Sonia Purnell has exhaustively researched Virginia Hall's career in archives in many countries, and she writes with authority and in vivid detail. This book is a cracking story
Oldie
Purnell vividly resurrects an underappreciated hero and delivers an enthralling story of wartime intrigue...fans of WWII history and women's history will be riveted
Publishers Weekly
Purnell mixes telling detail with narrative verve to convey both the excitements of Hall's precarious existence and the force of her indomitable spirit.
Mail on Sunday
An inspiring account of an extraordinary woman's bravery that will keep you gripping your seat
Rebecca Wallersteiner, The Lady Book of the Week