The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Simon Mawer

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. Trained in sabotage, dead-drops, how to perform under interrogation and how to kill, Marian parachutes into south-west France, her official mission to act as a Resistance courier. But her real destination is Paris, where she must seek out family friend Clément Pelletier, once the focus of her adolescent desires. A nuclear physicist engaged in the race for a new and terrifying weapon, he is of urgent significance to her superiors. As she struggles through the strange, lethal landscape of the Occupation towards this reunion, what completes her training is the understanding that war changes everything, and neither love nor fatherland may be trusted. 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication May 2012
ISBN 978-1408703502
Publisher Little, Brown
 

Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. Trained in sabotage, dead-drops, how to perform under interrogation and how to kill, Marian parachutes into south-west France, her official mission to act as a Resistance courier. But her real destination is Paris, where she must seek out family friend Clément Pelletier, once the focus of her adolescent desires. A nuclear physicist engaged in the race for a new and terrifying weapon, he is of urgent significance to her superiors. As she struggles through the strange, lethal landscape of the Occupation towards this reunion, what completes her training is the understanding that war changes everything, and neither love nor fatherland may be trusted.

Reviews

Scotland on Sunday

Allan Massie

I have rarely read a novel that made fear so acute, almost tangible. As a reader I was gripped; as a novelist who has written about this period, I was admiring and envious. When the tension is broken with violent action, it seems absolutely right. It should also be said that Mawer fully understands and explores the complexity of twisted loyalties at a time when almost nothing was simple or straightforward. The ending is sudden and shocking, perhaps, one may, somewhat resentfully feel, too sudden and too shocking. But that’s how things were then.

05/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Philip Womack

Mawer’s book is slick and thrilling and grown-up, like a slightly seedy uncle who smokes, drinks whisky and is always off seeing a man about a dog. Like that uncle, it’s also ephemeral and marginally unsatisfying: but don’t let that get in the way of what is an absorbing novel full of treachery, twilight and terror.

21/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Simon Schama

The great moments of the book, though – and there are many – are when the ostensible action stirs Mawer to a flight of imagining that channels pure literary adrenaline into making visible and audible, not just the concrete moment, but its bigger implications, higher, deeper, stronger. This is why Mawer is a genuinely great contemporary writer and why his entertainments, probably even his shopping lists for all I know, make for such rewarding reading.

26/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

Amber Pearson

Where his last Booker-shortlisted novel, The Glass Room, gave an expanisve overview of a whole country over the course of 50 years, Mawer’s latest is a more intense and tightly-focused story. Radiating an atmosphere of tense suspicion and claustrophobia, it is utterly gripping from start to finish.

26/04/2012

Read Full Review


The New Statesman

Alex Preston

Mawer’s previous, Booker-shortlisted novel, The Glass Room (2009), told a sweeping tale of wartime Europe. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky picks up where that novel left off, with a well-drawn heroine (Marian’s voice owes much to Liesel Landauer), beautifully lyrical passages (particularly its descriptions of parachute jumps) and a keen eye for period detail. It is a fine example of that most crowd-pleasing of genres – the literary spy thriller – but, as one would expect from a writer of Mawer’s class, it transcends that genre in its depth, subtlety and style.

06/06/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Catherine Taylor

A pre-war proto-romance with nuclear physicist Clément is the pretext for Marian’s dispatch to Paris to deliver an encrypted message and get Clément to England.This is the least credible part of the story, simply because sentiment threatens to deflect from the emotional truth that is the book’s strength.

24/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Literary Review

Linden Burleigh

Marian’s ‘personality split by war’ is both plausible and sad. She has to put girlish things away very quickly. In the end her fate is determined neither by patriotism nor love. It very much fits with what we know about these women: they became addicted to danger, to the exhilaration of living in the moment, and to the excitement of fighting a just war. Mawer has mastered the Buchanesque action novel brilliantly without ever descending into pastiche. This book probably won’t make the Man Booker shortlist but you won’t be able to put it down.

01/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Lucas Hollweg

This is a professionally crafted and engaging story in the tradition of Sebastian Faulks's Charlotte Gray, made plausible by the author's attention to historical detail. But it does not, unlike The Glass Room, aspire beyond itself. It reads as though Mawer has been urged by his publisher to write for a more commercial audience. He does it well, but it does leave one hankering for more.

11/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is a less capacious, less thoughtful book than The Glass Room, and some readers will find it – a thriller, I suppose – unsatisfying in the end. But who cares, really? It is so beautifully done. I disliked Mawer's interest (it verges on a fixation) in Marian's genitals, and she would perhaps have been a more interesting heroine had she not been so predictably beautiful. But otherwise I cannot fault his story-telling; I read late into the night and cried a little when I was done.

04/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Independent on Sunday

Leyla Sanai

Anna Funder's novel of Second World War resistance, All That I Am, was stunning because its main characters were based on real life ones, and its harrowing denouement was true. Mawer's in contrast, is a terse, gripping thriller that is faultlessly written but falls short of being remarkable simply because it paces already trodden ground.

06/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Times

Kate Saunders

Passion plus danger — what could be more thrilling? A dark, pacey tribute to the 50 heroines who made the same jump in real life.

28/04/2012

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore