From the author of Sisters of the Resistance comes the story of WWII British Naval Intelligence officer Victoire Bennett, the real-life inspiration for the James Bond character Miss Moneypenny, whose international covert operation is put in jeopardy when a volatile socialite and Austrian double agent threatens to expose the mission to German High Command.
World War II London: When Victoire “Paddy” Bennett first walks into the Admiralty’s Room 39, home to the Intelligence Division, all the bright and lively young woman expects is a secretarial position to the charismatic Commander Ian Fleming. But soon her job is so much more, and when Fleming proposes a daring plot to deceive the Germans about Allied invasion plans he requests the newlywed Paddy’s help. She jumps at the chance to work as an agent in the field, even after the operation begins to affect her marriage. But could doing her duty for King and country come at too great a cost?
Socialite Friedl Stöttinger is a beautiful Austrian double agent determined to survive in wartime England, which means working for MI-5, investigating fifth column activity among the British elite at parties and nightclubs. But Friedl has a secret–some years before, she agreed to work for German Intelligence and spy on the British.
When her handler at MI-5 proposes that she work with Serbian agent, Dusko Popov, Friedl falls hopelessly in love with the dashing spy. And when her intelligence work becomes fraught with danger, she must choose whether to remain loyal to the British and risk torture and execution by the Nazis, or betray thousands of men to their deaths.
Soon, the lives of these two extraordinarily brave women will collide, as each travels down a road of deception and danger leading to one of the greatest battles of World War II.
Smart and had me looking all the time on Wikipedia to compare with historical facts!
I loved Sisters of the Resistance and when I learned that Christine Wells released another WWII story, narrated by one of ly favorite narrators Saskia Maarleveld, I jumped on the audiobook.
I didn’t even read the synopsis so when I heard of a Ian Fleming in the story, that sounded vaguely familiar.
And when he submitted daring war scenarios to the admiralty, that’s when I recalled! I had a “lightbulb” moment! Ian Fleming was the author of James Bond!
Suddenly I didn’t see commander Fleming under the same light.
And when later on we crossed path with a double agent named Dusko Popov, I couldn’t help but see him as James Bond. One Wikipedia search later, confirmed my suspicion!
That book is told from a dual POV. Paddy and Friedl ‘s point of views.
Victoire “Paddy” Bennett was a no nonsense young lady with a sharp intellect. We could see her efficiency and her determination right from the start when she escaped the Nazis invasion of France. Later on, once back in London and working for the admiralty, she challenged the vice admiral and Ian Fleming’s ideas.
This was highly entertaining and instructive to follow Paddy ‘s path working for the admiralty as the personal assistant of Ian Fleming and the vice admiral.
When I looked into the “real” Victoire Bennett, I learned that she indeed was the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny.
Ian Fleming or Commandant Fleming was described as a ladies man, aloof, hard working with a keen eye for details. It seems that James Bond’s father before being a renown author had earned the admiration of the admiralty and secret services in the war effort.
Parallel to Paddy’s life, we follow Friedl Stöttinger ‘s story and see first hand how the Austrian women seeking shelter in London did her part in the fight against Nazism. Spy and counterspy, seducing men, playing the socialite to gather intelligence for the British Government, Friedl had quite an adventurous life!
I think Christine Wells did a very good job weaving fiction and history, bringing the spotlight upon two women whose role in WWII was important yet overlooked so far! And needless to say that I love discovering less known stories being part of the big history!
Thanks for reading!