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The Spy Who Loved: the Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain's First Female Special Agent of WWII

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3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,197 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable.

The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, she would become one of Britain’s most daring and highly decorated
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Paperback, Unabridged edition, 416 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Pan Macmillan (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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AJ
Jul 28, 2013 AJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to AJ by: goodreads voice
These are the top 3 things, in order, that I thought of constantly while reading this book:

1. Poland has had a lot of bad luck (these thoughts popped up partly because I had just read what the Soviets had done to it a few centuries before in Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman). And has one of the blackest histories of WW2. And it needs a lot more attention, appreciation, and historical content shed on it and it's plight.

2. Even fierce, intelligent, noble women spies get marginalized by the
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Pirate
Feb 22, 2013 Pirate rated it it was amazing
A brilliant account of a remarkable woman, one of those countless people often reduced to footnotes in larger broader histoory boos who deserve books on their own. Very cripsly and wittily written when that was required, brings in to play the remarkable characters that populated the SOE, heros all and with countless tales to tell. The heroine is a female James Bond of inestimable courage, nerve and wit. The book also lays bare again the betrayal of the Poles by all sides from the start of the wa ...more
Magda
Jun 09, 2013 Magda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I bought it after I saw Clare Mulley give a talk on the life of Christine Granville and after half an hour of detailing one impossible feat of heroics after another, Mulley confessed she'd barely got started... Granville's entire professional life as a spy was a series of inspirational impossibilities.

The book is fluid and engaging, written with sophistication, passion and a wealth of research to back it up. Recommended.
Ben Everhart
Jan 04, 2014 Ben Everhart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
I loved this book. Loved it so much that I don't want to return it to the library. I've finished it. It's sitting here, and yet, I feel compelled to hold onto it for as long as I can. Part of me has to hold back from re-reading it again.

Christine Granville was an extraordinary person and this is a great biography. Page turning while, at the same time, demanding each anecdote be savored. How can you read this and not fall in love with this woman?

World War II is brought to life in such a compell
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Rupert Colley
May 01, 2013 Rupert Colley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Originally posted on History In AN Hour: http://www.historyinanhour.com/2013/0...)

One can’t help but gasp with admiration at the life and exploits of Christine Granville, one of Britain’s bravest wartime heroines. On reading Clare Mulley’s entertaining biography, The Spy Who Loved, we are introduced to a woman who lived life on the edge and who found ordinary, routine existence a bore. Mulley writes with almost a venerable regard for her subject and rightly so, for one would expect the life of
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Rebecca
May 28, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
** I received a complimentary copy through Goodread's First Reads**
First of all I must address that I am an 007 junkie- I love a good entry into the spy genre. I was very happy to be able to preview this book, it's right up my alley and historical as well! Christine Granville led a fascinating life from her birth to a Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish bride to her reinvention as a British spy during WWII. Her life was never dull, she began life wealthy and died as a worker on a passenger
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April
Aug 07, 2013 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish the book, so I almost didn't rate it and write a review thinking perhaps I'd go back to it later; but, really, there are too many books in the world for that. The interesting thing is I didn't stop reading this book because it was horrible (that would be a one star rating); rather, I stopped reading this book because I wasn't connecting with it. I think the subject matter is extremely intriguing (that's why I checked it out in the first place), and the first 150 pages or so were ...more
Lewis Weinstein
I just read an excellent review of this in the NYT. The woman was Polish, volunteered for the British, and spent much of the war ferrying messages and people in and out of Nazi-occupied Warsaw. This woman, or a fictional character based on her, must be a part of my new novel.

UPDATE 9/5/13 ... I just watched the video done by the author and posted to GR. It is really terrific.
Karl
May 15, 2013 Karl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this but it has a terrible title - this is not a Mills & Boone wartime romance, the title diminishes the actual story and life of a complex and interesting woman living in complex and interesting times.
Eugene
Jul 07, 2013 Eugene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed in this book. Christine Granville's story is so compelling that I expected the book to be equally compelling. It wasn't. It's worth reading if you are interested in the topic (as I am). If you're just looking for a "good read", move on.

The first 50 pages were almost tortuous. The author introduced a dizzying number of people (most of whom weren't significant characters). That combined with the Polish names (are half of all Polish men named Andrzej???), the Anglicized version o
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Michelle
Sep 05, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
Wow. What a book. What a woman. Amazing, fascinating story of a Polish woman who ended up spying for Great Britain during WWII, working in Eastern Europe, the Mideast, and France, against amazing odds, and having, um, multiple romances along the way. Sometimes at the same time. LOL This was a well written book--I couldn't put it down. I kept telling my husband not to bother me now, Christine just got arrested. :-) Loved it!
Michelle
Jun 26, 2013 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this biography, but it was dry, boring and monotonous to follow. It was not written very strongly, simply just a presentation of facts, without really getting to know Christine Granville.
cameron
Jul 06, 2014 cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Wonderfully written. Real insight into British Intelligence. Brave . Heroic. Sexy. True.
It's everything you love when you watch old black and white WW2 British spy movies.
Eileen
Jul 01, 2013 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an extremely thorough account of the life of Christine Granville, a Polish Jew who became the first woman to work for the British SOE during World War II. Outfitted in the old wooden skies of yore, she skied over treacherous mountain terrain into occupied Poland, and was parachuted behind enemy lines in France. Amazing courage, indomitable physical endurance, and extremely quick wits all contributed to Christine’s brilliant wartime record. Intrepid determination combined with prevailing ...more
Audrey
May 04, 2013 Audrey rated it really liked it
Excellent biography of the Polish Countess who became known as Christine Granville and the first British female special agent of World War II. A story of a fascinating, brave and complicated woman who undertook dangerous work for the 6 years of the war. It is also a story of how she and her country Poland were both let down by the British after the war. Poland bring annexed mainly to the Russians who killed and exterminated as many polish people as they could find and Christine who they cut loos ...more
Mahmoud Abbas
Jun 27, 2013 Mahmoud Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wonderful
Mary
Jan 25, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christine Granville was a complicated hero of WWII to say the least. Thank God Mulley presents the entire person, as much as is possible when writing about a spy who didn't like to write letters. Deeply researched. Granville lead an improbably, fearless, messy life. Many fell in love along the way (myself included!). Her treatment after the war and her unnecessary demise move the needle toward the tragic from the bittersweet at the end of the story. I found some specks of dust irritating my eyes ...more
Heli
Apr 23, 2014 Heli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kiinnostava elämäkerta Britannian hyväksi toisessa maailmansodassa vakoilleesta Christine Granvillesta, joka oli alkujaan puolalainen Krystyna Skarbek. Granville eli epätavallisen elämän: syvästi isänmaallinen, kahdesti avioitunut nainen rakasti vapautta ja toimintaa. Hän oli SOEn ensimmäinen naisvakooja, joka Unkarista käsin vaelsi ja hiihti Saksan miehittämään Puolaan. Myöhemmin hänet pudotettiin Ranskaan. Huolimatta kahdesta avioliitostaan Granville arvosti henkilökohtaista vapauttaan. Kirjan ...more
Kate Lapinski
Oct 19, 2015 Kate Lapinski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christine Granville and her remarkable story deserve every star available. This book illustrates the magnitude of WW2 (all the nationalities, all the movement between countries, all the different frontlines and different types of fights, all the logistics and bureaucracies) but also shows the smaller human lives that the global conflict changed or shaped entirely.
I am buying a copy of this for myself and also for my some family members.
Jennifer
Mar 02, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
An Amazing historical Autobiography of a Polish Contess who was the first Female SOE ( Britain's Special Operations Executive) in WW2. It is a wonderful historical read as well as testament to the bravery and courage women have in spades as much as men do and how ultimately her being a woman in a time when women were not treated with the same equality and given the same status as the men she helped lead and save, ultimately was her undoing.
Molly
Jul 26, 2013 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2013
I repeatedly tried to diagnose Christine, the Polish/British WWII spy whose adventures are chronicled in this extremely well researched biography. I also learned A LOT about WWII (particularly Northern Africa's role), that I wasn't aware of before. While reading, I wasn't sure if Christine's Cluster B traits annoyed me, but the book stayed with me long after I finished reading. Definitely dense in parts, but extremely interesting.
Sarah
Feb 10, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
I am not used to reading biographies (19th-century novels are more my cup of tea), but I thought this book was well-written and compelling. It started slow but became increasingly more interesting. Not only did I gain a thorough knowledge of one of Britain's most remarkable secret agents, but I also became much more aware of Poland's plight during World War II. A fascinating read!
Marie Z. Johansen
I rated this book at 5 stars because it moved me, it taught me and it made me think.
Christine Granville was a woman far ahead of her time. She was obstinate, dedicated, independent, brilliant, cool, embroiled and just plain amazing. She died far too young at the hand of an obsessed admirer.
Christine was born to Polish landed gentry parents, but her mother, whose banking fortune had bailed the Skarbek family out of debt, was Jewish. Christine dealt with being an outcast for being partially Jewish
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Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
Fascinating story of SOE's longest serving woman agent, and recipient of the George Medal, the OBE and the Croix de Guerre.

Clare Mulley has turned up a little known tale of a woman who fought not only the Nazis but the 1940s prejudices against an independent minded woman.
Ali Boshehri
Aug 28, 2014 Ali Boshehri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ending was quite the savior for this biography. The first half of the book consisted of an account of a lady with no distinctive attributes except her apparent beauty and the magnetic abilities she possesses on men. I didn't have a slight idea of who Christine Granville was when I started reading, so the significance of her early escapades weren't really interesting to me.

The effort put in by the author to create such a descriptive and detailed account of Granville is admirable, especially
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Christine Calabrese
Excellent read. It amazes me how quickly sexual , racial, & national prejudices are discarded during the desperation of wartime, AND how even quicker such prejudices return during peacetime.
Helen
This is truly an extraordinary book, about an extraordinary woman. I wasn't able to finish it--my reading life sent me off in another direction--but I hope to come back to it.
S.P. Moss
Jan 01, 2015 S.P. Moss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clare Mulley’s excellent biography of Christine Granville (nee Krystyna Skarbek) commence with a quote from Winston Churchill: “In the high ranges of Secret Service work, the actual facts in many cases were in every respect equal to the most fantastic inventions of romance and melodrama.” This certainly sets the tone for the whole book – with the reader continually thinking that, if Christine hadn’t existed, someone would have had to have made her up.

Well-researched and detailed, the biography i
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Filmmaker Mary
Aug 28, 2012 Filmmaker Mary rated it it was amazing
Thrilling read.
Jim Neeley
Nov 05, 2015 Jim Neeley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here we are, the year 2015 and how many people know about Christine Granville? I had not. We all should know her name and deeds.

This is an amazing true story. Very heavy in detail, but if you can accept that and remember what you can, the book builds up speed to a tragic conclusion. Stayed up late into the night reading the chapter on her involvement with the heroic stand by the French resistance at The Battle of Vecors. Who needs super heroes with these real life men and women. Nazi gliders lan
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'The Spy Who Loved: the secrets and lives of Christine Granville, Britain's first female special agent of WWII' is was published in the UK in 2012, and in the USA and Poland 2013. Photo shows me outside Christine's childhood home in Poland. Despite missions that saw her skiing into occupied Poland and being parachuted into occupied France, Christine survived the war, but was murdered for love in 1 ...more
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“Christine did not live, or love, as most people do. She lived boundlessly, as generous as she could be cruel, prepared to give her life at any moment for a worthy cause, but rarely sparing a thought for the many casualties that fell in her wake.” 4 likes
“For a once renowned woman who loved telling tales of dodging bullets, wielding grenades and subverting dogs trained to kill, Christine's story is, surprisingly, little known today.” 2 likes
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