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The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  926 ratings  ·  171 reviews
The Untold Story of Britain’s First Female Special Agent of World War II

In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in the South Kensington district of London. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising; that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable.

The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and h
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2012)
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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
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.
Jul 28, 2013 AJ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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 And it needs a lot more attention, appreciation, and historical content shed on it and it's plight.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
Ben Everhart
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
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
** 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
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.
Rupert Colley
(Originally posted on History In AN Hour:

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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.
S.P. Moss
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
Jul 06, 2014 Helen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is truly an extraordinary book. I'm loving it.
“The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville” by Clare Mulley, is a suspenseful biography. We begin at the onset of World War II when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. This invasion led Krystyna Skarbek (1908-1952), an independent young woman who was the daughter of a Polish aristocratic and a Jewish banking heiress, to volunteer as a secret agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Consequently, she becomes the first female agent for the SIS in the United Kingdo ...more
Rob Kitchin
Krystyna Sarbeck was born in Warsaw in 1908, the daughter of a Polish aristocrat and his Jewish wife. She had a privileged upbringing, but her aristocratic and Jewish heritage simultaneously positioned her as part of the elite and an outsider. It was a position she occupied her whole life, first in pre-Second World War Poland, then as a British agent in the Europe and the Middle East, and then in the post-war years before her untimely death in 1952, as Clare Mulley’s fascinating biography detail ...more
This is a great addition to the genre of spy stories--this one being nonfiction. The title gives a good summary of a well-researched history: Christine did indeed love. She was passionate about both the freedom of Poland and her many lovers. She was a secret agent for the British effort in World War II, and her story has held secrets for 60+ years as she herself embroidered her exploits and her most dedicated lover sought to protect her "reputation" by discouraging early manuscripts of biographi ...more
Adebayo Oyagbola
A story of an extraordinary woman of incomparable courage, unremitting recklessness, boundless energy but a rather unedifying appetite for affairs. This is the tale of an intrepid field agent for Britain during the 2nd world war, who operated behind enemy lines in more than one theatre of war. The book details her constant push to be sent to carry out the most daring operations, into Occupied Poland, France and Italy.

The author occasionally got bogged down in dreary, sometimes sordid and often a
Christine Granville, born Krystyna Skarbek was the first woman working as a British spy during World War II. Her main objective was to help Poland, her native country, secure its independence. She served in Egypt, North Africa, and France (which she entered by parachute) and Poland (skiing across mountains) and not only provided important information to the Allies, but also saved Allied forces both as individuals and by supplying vital information. In one spectacular case, she rescued three age ...more
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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.” 1 likes
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