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(Marian Sutro #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  6,355 ratings  ·  933 reviews
It's Not for the War.

Marian Sutro would be just another young English woman wondering whom she'll marry and how to find a way to be useful. But World War II has turned everyone's life inside out. Marian happens to be bilingual (her father is English, her mother French) and is recruited by the "Inter-Services Research Bureau" and enrolled in a rigorous, take-no-prisoners es
Paperback, 371 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Other Press (NY) (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Julie Christine
If you were to read a simplistic blurb of Simon Mawer's Trapeze - at the height of World War II, a young English-French woman trains as a spy and is dropped into Occupied France to aid the French Resistance - you might think you hold an espionage-adventure in your hands. Which, in fact, you do! But Mawer isn't after writing a Robert Ludlum thriller. He offers us a subtle, mannered take on a well-worn theme: how war forces the most ordinary amongst us to behave in the most extraordinary ways.

Jeanette (Again)
3.5 stars, rounding up to 4 because I like the way he ended it realistically. I also appreciated the subtle building of suspense a couple of times near the end of the story. It's not the heart-pounding suspense you get from a thriller, but a much more natural feeling of dread and uncertainty while the characters are trying to act nonchalant.
I enjoyed learning about the various training exercises women went through in Scotland and England to prepare them for life as infiltrators.

But the best thi
Jul 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because every previous book I read by Simon Mawer was excellent. Sad to say, this book comes no where near his previous standard. The plot is plain silly, the heroine ditto and so is the writing. If you read Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan you will understand how an intelligent Britain based wartime spy story should be written. This one is about a young half British/French girl who is transferred from her position as an ordinary WAC (the British equivalent is apparently called a FAN ...more
The Girl who fell from the Sky is about a young half English, half French woman who joins the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1943 and, after extensive training, is parachuted into occupied France.
Marian Sutro is beautiful, sassy, romantic and insubordinate to superior officers – so more like the 21st century heroine of an action film than a convincing portrait of a woman of her times. This though enables the author to crank up the tension in a way that wouldn’t be possible perhaps with a
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, europe, adventure, spy
I hoped for more from this novel. The protagonist, Marian/Anne-Marie/Alice is a difficult character to warm to and the novel relies heavily on her being an interesting and accessible character because she's our way in. I found Marian spiky, aloof and quite irritating, especially as an agent in training. Apart from anything else, she blabs about her exciting new venture immediately after being explicitly told not to tell anyone.

The novel doesn't really take off until Marian, now known as Alice,
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
In war there’s a fine line between being alive and being fully human.

I enjoyed this book immensely. “Trapeze” centers around a young English woman, Marian Sutro, who’s recruited to be a spy embedded in France. Marian is the daughter of an English diplomat and a French woman. She grows up in Switzerland where her father is stationed. She’s the adored younger sister of a brilliant scientist brother. She’s also adored by and adoring of her brother’s fellow scientist Clement. Mawer quickly catches t
Mindy Tysinger
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This book has been on my list to read for a while but it came up on a couple of different challenges lately, so I figured it must be a sign I should bump it to the top of my list. Interesting story about a young woman from England who goes to France to work with the Resistance during World War II. I enjoyed the story learning about these women that sacrificed their relative comfort and safety in London to go into a vastly different environment in order to help the war efforts. I must say it was ...more
This novel was left open ended in the manner of an ongoing thriller series. The next book, Tightrope, is due out in November 2015 published by Other Press. Mawer choses a nineteen-year-old British espionage agent as his central character, based on the background of a real group of women, half-French, who are recruited and trained to infiltrate France during the Second World War on behalf of British Intelligence.

Mawer sticks to the personal in this novel, and does not venture out into the war at
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marian Sutro is a young woman from Geneva, with an English father and a French mother. It is wartime and Marian is in London, when she is approached about whether she would undertake a secret mission in occupied France. Although she knows she should be afraid, Marian is exhilarated by the thought. We travel with her through training and see her learn how to use morse code, how to shoot a weapon and kill a man. Through it all, though, she is still a young woman, who is coming to terms with hersel ...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky – published in the US as Trapeze - is a thriller, a spy story, a coming of age narrative, a tale of sexual awakening, of self-discovery, of the terrors of working under an assumed name in a land occupied by a malign presence. The life that it has is all that it has, and it’s yours and yours and yours! Is it mine? The honest answer is that I’m not at all sure.

It’s the first novel I’ve read by Simon Mawer, though his much lauded The Glass Room is in my collection a
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
4 Stars - 3 Stars - 4 Stars

Is it me or is it the book?

At the outset I was very interested in reading Trapeze as it promised a peek into ta little known piece of World War II history --a fictionalized account of the 39 women, members of The French Section of the Special Operative Executive.

As someone who has tandem jumped and who also is the niece of a World War II parachutist who died doing just that during the Battle of the Bulge, I was intrigued by the thought of these women who parachuted in
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
The premise was fascinating and true -- young women who had volunteered for low-level support roles in WWII-era Britain were secretly tapped to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France as spies.

This book could have been a great glimpse into a covert operation, but unfortunately it fell flat. The main character never developed, really, and the supporting characters were never more than paper-doll men.

It told me what happened instead of showed me, to the point where the last few paragraphs were literally a
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Some novels should come with an advisory: “Readers will not get anything done until they have completed this book.” Trapeze by Simon Mawer is desperately in need of that label. Readers are immediately drawn into this novel by its main character, Marian Sutro, a young woman wondering what her place is in the fighting of World War II. Marian is the daughter of an English father and a French mother, and is bilingual, making her the perfect addition to the French Section of the Special Operations Ex ...more
Huw Rhys
Sep 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On the face of it, this is a WW2 espionage story about a female agent operating in France. Had the author simply stuck to this idea, we may have been given a better result.

As it is, we have a slow, turgid novel which barely gets going at all until the last few chapters, wrapped up in a load of completely inappropriate and often embarrassing, florid passages.

Firstly, to begin to appreciate much of this extraneous verbiage, the reader needs to be not only fluent in French, but au fait with French
Gumble's Yard
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Marian Sutro (the Geneva born daughter of a British diplomat and a Frenchwoman) is recruited by the British Special Operations Executive to work in France in 1941. As well as her training and role as a secret agent a separate part of the Secret Service also want her to take a message to Clement Pelletier, a research physicist. Clement was friends with her older brother – Ned also a research physicist but she and Clement had a burgeoning relationship pre-war despite her being only 15 and he 10 ye ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I hovered between three and four stars all night. Tossing and turning in bed after I'd finished the last page. I suppose this is not a book to finish just before bedtime, as it did not sit well. First off, it's a total cliffhanger which if doing a trilogy or a series I enjoy. It usually makes me excited to read the next, but this was more flat than exciting. I was more disappointed.

Marian Sutro, a young woman chosen by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) to be trained and sent to France as a
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
It is the second world war and Marion who is in the services is selected by SOE as she can speak fluent French. She is a little reluctant to join at first, but decides that she will. She joins the commandos on their training course with one other woman, and passes with flying colours. After a couple of other courses, including getting her wings, she is ready for her first assignment in France.

She is approached by another secret organisation that want her to meet with an old flame called Clement
Alice Meloy
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Reading this now novel from Simon Mawer after his excellent The Glass Room, I was reminded of how I felt reading Mary Doria Russell's Dreamers of the Day after The Sparrow and Thread of Grace: did someone else write this novel or is it perhaps a resurrected earlier work? It's not a bad novel, but it doesn't measure up to the depth of The Glass Room. Three and a half years into the Second World War, a young British woman is recommended for special espionage work in France. Her mother is French, a ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2012-reads
This whole book felt shallow. I was looking farward details! which where missing in abundance! The author just scoots around the idea of some young women becoming a spy, missing out all of the training in any depth, reducing it to "we did an assault course that day" and "later we did monkey bars". The whole book reads more like a plot outline then an actual book. Also, if i have to hear the line "he laughed that *insert word here, such as "throaty"/"russion"/or"deep" Laugh" AGAIN i will go crazy ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Based on the true story of a group of young women who were recruited in Britain, during WWII, to serve in the French Division of The Special Operations Executive, the book is filled with historic facts about their training, innocence and bravery in the face of enormous danger. The SOE trained these women for espionage and all types of weapon use. Dropped into France, in secret, they became different people, and they performed whatever assignments they were given, often completely on their own, f ...more
Dolf Patijn
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a riveting Second World War espionage novel with a strong, female protagonist. In WW II it wasn't just men who fought and women doing office jobs and nursing because there were women who played an important role in occupied countries. In the Netherlands there were girls like Hannie Schaft (the girl with the red hair). Theun de Vries wrote a book about this courier for the Dutch resistance. In Germany there was Sophie Scholl, one of the leaders of the White Rose resistance group. In Franc ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Recently I had a conversation with someone about the Holocaust; we agreed that those with direct experience would be gone in the next 10-15 years, and that the memories of those with direct experience were (now) fading or being lost to old age. So it's not surprising that the children of those people are striving to keep those memories alive and to honor their parents' experience.

In this case, the author is writing (loosely) about a friend of her parents, a woman who worked for the Special Opera
Robin Webster
The main character of this novel is 23 year old Marian Sutro: fluent in both French and English. She is sought out by the Special Operations Executive to work undercover in occupied France. She is parachuted into the Bordeaux region of France staying in a small town called Lussac and starts working as a courier for the resistance. However, her most important mission is to contact an old friend of her brother in Paris who is a nuclear physicist called Clement Pelletier and try to persuade him to ...more
Ava Catherine
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, britain, europe, 2014
Simon Mawer based this book on the true story of a group of young women who were recruited in Britain during WWII to serve in the French Division of The Special Operations Executive. Mawer weaves interesting historical information into the novel about their training and bravery in the face of enormous danger.

Marian Sutro, a nineteen-year-old girl who is a member of the WAF, is recruited by the SOE and parachutes into occupied France with several new identities. Marian’s mission is of the highe
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Trapeze is a better title than The Girl Who Fell from the Sky which is just a bit silly. The quote on the front cover of my edition says "As good as Le Carre." No, it's not. Not even close and not a spy story so I don't understand the analogy.

After a strong start when we learn about the way Special Ops trained recruits, the book lulls into an account of life undercover in France which isn't very exciting. The last third is full of suspense though which is why I have given it 4 stars rather than
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

What an amazing story! I hated for it to end, and such an ending it was! Adding to the appeal was my discovery, after reading a note by the author on Amazon, that this nail biting tale of the French Resistance is based on the experiences of one Anne Marie Walters. At the time the author’s mother joined the WAAF during World War II, Anne Marie was serving in her unit. Mawer read Anne Marie’s battered memoir, Moondrop to Gascony, which ‘recounts in vivid first person, the experiences after she was
Valerie Walley
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I could not turn the pages fast enough. A literary thriller of the highest order. Atmospheric, daring, great characters. I loved The Glass Room a lot and this book is much faster paced.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of books about this topic. In comparison to many others, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky (which also comes under the title Trapeze) has made an impression on me simply because it proves you needn't rely heavily on one plot twist after the other nor on the usual WW2 cliches to produce a good spy thriller. It focuses mainly on Marian Sutro's training, her main mission in France and how she dealt with it. It wasn't packed with suspense but all the while I read with a sense of forebod ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good read. The kind of thing Alan Furst would have written if he were less of a hack. A WWII noir spy thriller. But Mawer is a fine writer.
Margaret Bamford
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this novel as it depicted some of the brave people who worked in Europe during the war. The end was realistic and not what I expected.
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Simon Mawer (born 1948, England) is a British author. He currently lives in Italy.

Other books in the series

Marian Sutro (2 books)
  • Tightrope (Marian Sutro, #2)

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