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As Espiãs do Dia D

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“Uma visão empolgante do perigoso mundo de pessoas corajosas que confrontaram os monstros nazistas em seu covil.” – Library Journal. Segunda Guerra Mundial: Na fúria expansionista do Terceiro Reich, a França é tomada pelas tropas de Hitler. Os alemães ignoram quando e onde, mas estão cientes de que as forças aliadas planejam libertar a Europa. Para a oficial inglesa Felicity Clairet, nunca houve tanto em jogo. Ela sabe que a capacidade de Hitler repelir um ataque depende de suas linhas de comunicação. Assim, a dias da invasão pelos Aliados, não há meta mais importante que inutilizar a maior central telefônica da Europa, alojada num palácio na cidade de Sainte-Cécile. Porém, além de altamente vigiado, esse ponto estratégico é à prova de bombardeios. Quando Felicity e o marido, um dos líderes da Resistência francesa, tentam um ataque direto, Michel é baleado e seu grupo, dizimado. Abalada pelas baixas sofridas e com sua credibilidade posta em questão por seus superiores, a oficial recebe uma última chance. Ela tem nove dias para formar uma equipe de mulheres e entrar no palácio sob o disfarce de faxineiras.Arriscando a vida para salvar milhões de pessoas, a equipe Jackdaws tentará explodir a fortaleza e aniquilar qualquer chance de comunicação alemã – mesmo sabendo que o inimigo pode estar à sua espera. As espiãs do Dia D é um thriller de ritmo cinematográfico inspirado na vida real. Lançado originalmente como Jackdaws, traz os personagens marcantes e a narrativa detalhada de Ken Follett.

448 pages, Paperback

First published December 3, 2001

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About the author

Ken Follett

354 books52k followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995.

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of Ken’s most popular books.

In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on best-seller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007.

Ken’s new book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published in September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust and Patron of Home-Start Hertfordshire.

Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player. He lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with his wife Barbara, the former Labour Member of Parliament for Stevenage. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren and two Labradors.

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5 stars
12,811 (34%)
4 stars
14,942 (40%)
3 stars
7,424 (20%)
2 stars
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1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,726 reviews
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews352 followers
January 20, 2019
This is a heart-racing, brilliantly fast-paced and gripping read. To merely call it 'exciting' would be an understatement. The plot is fantastically well-written, bringing together drama, history and tangible emotion. This is certainly not a book which can be easily put down.
Follett not only knows how to tell a fantastic story and captivate the reader, he also knows exactly what the reader wants. The ending is just as gripping as the rest of the book and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed by it.
The plot of "Jackdaws" is realistic; many women served in the war, and some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice. Details of how agents were trained, how they reached their destinations in France, and the types of attacks they carried out alongside the French Resistance are accurate. Through this we are able to see the fear and horror facing those who worked behind enemy lines, yet also their courage and resourcefulness, and in this respect I can highly recommend this novel.

On the other hand, I did find some aspects of "Jackdaws" a little too far-fetched. It would have been possible to put together an all-female group, but no agents would have been sent out with the limited training that the characters in this novel received. Also, some of the characters were incredibly blasé about the dangers facing them, behaving almost as though they were on holiday rather than on a secret mission behind enemy lines. Having said that, this is historical fiction and so one can suspend belief a little in exchange for a good story. And ‘Jackdaws’ is that. The plotting is clear, the action almost constant, the suspense engaging.

Alongside the story of Flick and her group we also have the story of Dieter Franck, a German Intelligence officer whose character is full of contradictions – willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve his aims, yet feeling the guilt at what those actions entail; a loving husband, yet a man who also loves his mistress; a man who upholds the German ideal yet has feelings for a Jew. With Franck, and the other main characters in this novel, Mr Follett explores human psychology showing us the complexity of human relationships and how our feelings for others can colour our actions.

All in all, "Jackdaws" is a good war-time thriller. Anyone who enjoys a fast-paced story set during the Second World War will enjoy this novel.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,027 reviews374 followers
August 8, 2022
Sementes de Verdade*

Pegaram em armas, planearam ataques, trataram dos feridos...
Preservaram a sanidade numa guerra gerada por sementes de loucura!
Lutaram numa guerra de homens sem, contudo, deixar de ser mulheres!
Mulheres corajosas!...
Grandes Guerreiras que merecem ser recordadas com o maior respeito e admiração!

É um 4+++
Leiam! É uma ficção com Sementes de Verdade!!! ♥️

*A história narrada é baseada em factos verídicos — o Executivo de Operações Especiais enviou 50 mulheres para França como agentes secretos tendo 36 sobrevivido
Profile Image for David.
43 reviews5 followers
August 20, 2007
Reading Jackdaws, like other Ken Follett titles I've read, is kind of like riding a moped. It's a lot of fun, but all the same you really don't want to be seen enjoying it. For me reading Follett is one of those guilty pleasures, where you know it isn't the best writing out there, the characters aren't particularly well developed, and in general the book isn't ground breaking or noteworthy in any way -- and yet you keep reading, because secretly it's kind of fun.
If you like WWII fiction with lots of action and don't mind stereotypical characters, then Follett's your man.
Profile Image for Jess.
382 reviews258 followers
January 5, 2021
I’m not even going to attempt to be diplomatic, so buckle yourselves in because this book made me angry.

Note: I am aware that I am in the minority for this one, as a few people have ungraciously pointed out. Whilst I welcome informed debate, I will not tolerate hateful comments. Please don't take it personally if I block you.

I’m surprised this has such a decent rating. Jackdaws is a grim mockery of the dedication and fierce bravery of the SOE girls. It exploits a very real and turbulent episode in European history, failing to present the complexity of the sacrifice these women were willing to make - many gave their lives. What is marketed as an intense action-packed thriller is nothing more than a completely implausible troupe of women squabbling, bitching about each other, instigating cat fights and hooking up with every volunteer in a fifty mile radius.

Follett’s presentation of women is sickening. The Jackdaws are never established as real characters beyond constant reminders of their sex appeal. Follett has a needless preoccupation with the objectification of women which seems to serve no other purpose than as an attempt to villainise the antagonist or else add some sort of racy element that the unnecessary sex scenes fail to provide (they read like bad smutty fanfic). It’s also obvious that Follett was attempting some shade of free indirect style by sporadically adopting different characters’ voices, but the female perspectives are especially cringey. Follett endows the Jackdaws with stereotypically ‘girly’ lines in an attempt to emulate the female mindset. Hackneyed examples include: “I’m sorry for being such a girl” and the classic, “My bum is too big!”. Look, as a real life (cisgender) female, I can testify that the size of my arse would be the last thing on my mind if I were facing the prospect of imminent capture and torture.

I guess Jackdaws is supposed to be some groundbreaking feminist masterpiece simply because it puts women center stage amid the androcentricity of war - but to me, the Jackdaws are hardly the epitome of ‘strong female characters’. Flick is nothing but a fighting machine with breasts, ( “a tiny bundle of sex appeal” and yes, that is an actual line) something which apparently makes her an undisputed feminist. Although other characters frequently supply helpful asides about how brave, intelligent, [insert other stereotype here] she is, Flick never does anything to justify these claims. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for female empowerment, but I thoroughly disagree with how Follett went about it. Jackdaws heavily insinuates that for a woman to be on an equal footing with men, she must be endowed with masculine qualities to make her like a man, and/or the men around her need to be degraded to incompetent idiots. To me, this completely contradicts the concept of gender equality and it's not fair - on men or women. Strong in the sense of physicality or capability is only one side of the coin; a character needs some level of vulnerability and empathy otherwise they will never have the need to be brave, or indeed strong. Being able to fire a gun alone does not make you brave or admirable. Besides, a primitive lust for violence is not a particularly appealing trait in anyone.

Every character was achingly stale and prone to stereotype. Flick was a ripoff of Nancy Wake, the openly bawdy SOE agent, complete with a French lover and a codename that I assume was supposed to be lyrical like ‘The White Mouse’... but ‘Leopardess’ was just so obviously sultry that it had me snorting my disapproval. Other characters were defined entirely by their sexuality. It’s honourable that the effort was made to represent LGBTQ+, but these moments are so sporadic and contrived it feels to me as though Follett was trying too hard to be inclusive without actually doing the LGBTQ+ characters justice. These characters have no other values or traits other than their sexuality which does a disservice to both the characters themselves as well as the author. Is there a need to simply label a character as LGBTQ, tick a box, and have them play no other function in the story? People are more than just their sexuality. Ultimately, none of the characters were particularly likeable... besides from the antagonist and his sidekick. You know there’s a problem when you find yourself rooting unconditionally for the killer.

Jackdaws reads like a bad action movie. The writing is, quite honestly, appalling; it’s ameteur and brimming with clunky phrases. My favourite lines included: “Your security stinks.” and 'The torture chamber gave him the creeps.' The juvenile prose is incongruous with the tidbits of historical exposition which feel like transcribed verbatim excerpts from documentaries. This is in many ways a research-heavy piece, and certain scenes were obviously orchestrated with no other purpose than as an opportunity for Follett to show off how much research he’d done rather than offering any helpful insight into the story or moving the plot forward. Jackdaws is also full of specious and convenient plot twists; Follett is excessively melodramatic and uses numerous close calls in an attempt to build tension and suspense - but it only belies the gravity of the situation. Inevitably, this all builds up to a saccharine happy ending. Something that should've been emotionally compelling, wasn’t.

Jackdaws is junk reading. If you like badly written Harlequin Romances masquerading as gritty espionage, give it a go. This was, quite simply, the thriller that failed to thrill.
Profile Image for Nina.
267 reviews97 followers
January 7, 2023
Ken Follett is known for plots that tell quite a story. And he definitely did it with Jackdaws. I enjoyed this book a lot, primarily because it tells the story of a group of female spies playing their own version of cat-and-mouse with Gestapo agents and German soldiers. The characters are interesting, the plot is great and moves on rather quickly. In addition the women’s mission is very important for the allied invasion in Normandy. I think that the plot, the characters, the setting and how Follett tells this story are great, and Jackdaws has everything it takes to make this an exciting read.
Mind, there are some rather brutal scenes which I didn’t really like, but they were necessary as part of the plot.
5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kristen Schrader (Wenke).
246 reviews13 followers
May 18, 2011
"Exactly fifty women were sent into France as secret agents by the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. Of those, thirty-six survived the war. The other fourteen gave their lives. This book is dedicated to all of them."

So. Damn. Good.

Ken Follett is best known for his sweeping epics Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and Fall of Giants which span decades, but in Jackdaws he manages to apply his same talent for engrossing description into a story that takes 10 days. The novel is centered around Flick (aka Felicity) who leads a group of all female secret agents into occupied France to disable an all too important telephone exchange. And if that wasn't difficult enough - the Nazis know she's coming.

It's emotional, heart-pounding, and incredibly descriptive. You'll swear you were there and you won't be able to put it down.

Oh, yeah. And chicks rule.

From the official history:
"Women did not normally organize sabotage; but Pearl Witherington, a trained British courier, took over and ran an active Maquis of some two thousand men in Berry with gallantry and distinction after the Gestapo arrested her organizer. She was strongly recommended for an MC (Military Cross), for which women were held ineligible; and received instead a civil MBE, which she returned, observing she had done nothing civil."
Profile Image for Antonella  M..
952 reviews85 followers
March 22, 2022
Da Wikipedia su Ken Follett:
Considerato uno dei più grandi narratori al mondo...

Quanto è vero! La sua padronanza narrativa non si discute. A qualsiasi suo romanzo mi sia approcciata sono stata fagocitata e ammaliata dalla storia raccontata. "Le gazze ladre" riesce a tenere viva l'attenzione in modo particolare, tanto che al primo momento libero, fossero solo dieci minuti, correvo a prendere il libro per andare avanti anche di pochissime pagine.

"Nel corso della Seconda guerra mondiale, cinquanta donne vennero inviate in Francia come agenti segreti del Special Opertaions Executive. Trentasei sopravvissero, le altre quattordici persero la vita in azione. Questo libro è dedicato a tutte loro."

Follett prende spunto da questo evento e cuce su misura un romanzo meraviglioso, ambientato appunto in Francia poco prima dello sbarco degli Alleati in Normandia e non lascia nulla al caso scrivendo una storia completa che può soddisfare, a mio avviso, tutti i tipi di lettori. Non manca nulla: c'è suspense, azione, spionaggio, violenza, vendetta, riscatto, sentimenti romantici e non, e tanta, tanta storia. Quella storia che sui banchi di scuola sembrava così monotona e noiosa, ma che con Follett assume contorni così intriganti, tanto da portarmi a fare ricerche personali di approfondimento. Non è da tutti. Se non lo avete fatto, leggetelo e non fatevi spaventare dalla mole, va via in un attimo.
Profile Image for Becky.
496 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2012
Either KF is a dirty old man or he's taken the adage "sex sells" to heart. For a spy novel, there was an awful lot of flirting and crushes and sex — each instance intended to be more shocking than the last. Rather, each was more ridiculous than the last, resulting in sighs and eye rolling. Lots of eye rolling.

When the author wasn't writing amateur porn and got around to writing the spy part of his spy novel, things didn't pick up as much as you'd think. The plot never gets any serious momentum. It's best described as a formulaic cliche: bad guys on the trail of the good guys (or girls in this case) with lots of close calls, but everything turns out just pat (a little too pat) in the end. All the right characters live, all the wrong characters get what's coming to them, and all the characters you feel neutral towards die. You know, to pull at the reader's heart strings and give the plot that necessary hint of realism. Bleh.

A good novel keeps the reader guessing. It at least keeps the reader interested. This pile of cliche and predictability did neither. Only through misguided persistence could I slog through and finish this, and especially at the end, it was only to get it over with already.
Profile Image for Craig.
225 reviews
February 4, 2013
Jackdaws could have been a very good World War II novel. It's about a group of women operatives (most of them criminals or malcontents) who are given a chance to serve their country and clear their records if they undertake a dangerous mission in France to blow up a Nazi communications center just as the D-Day invasion begins. Yes, the premise is very much a female Dirty Dozen.

The action and characterization of the book are okay but typical. There were just too many sex scenes. And the sad thing is those scenes were entirely unecessary. Follett has caved to the contemporary temptation of explicit sex. Too bad. Otherwise, it would have been better.
Profile Image for Tessa Nadir.
Author 3 books272 followers
February 20, 2022
"Nu ai fost cel mai inteligent spion pe care l-am intalnit vreodata, dar ai fost un baiat curajos, zise el incetisor. Dumnezeu sa te ierte. Ii inchise ochii."
Romanul incepe cu o dedicatie pentru cele 50 de femei care au fost trimise in Franta ca agenti secreti de catre Marea Britanie. Dintre ele doar 36 au supravietuit razboiului. Autorul dedica romanul acestor femei.
Cartea este despre secrete, spionaj, decizii cruciale si mult curaj. Toate aceste lucruri pot schimba definitiv viata cuiva.
In ceea ce priveste actiunea, ne aflam in 1944 si o avem in prim plan pe Felicity Clairet care este agenta britanica si face parte din organizatia secreta Divizia de Operatiuni Speciale, cunoscuta si ca "Armata secreta a lui Churchill". Acesta este un serviciu special de spionaj si sabotaj.
Ea si echipa ei, din care face parte si sotul ei Michel, se afla in Franta cu misiunea de a ataca cladirea in care nemtii au cea mai mare centrala telefonica din Europa. Misiunea esueaza, echipa ei este omorata sau capturata, sotul ei este impuscat si ea ramane sa raspunda singura pentru acest esec.
Cei care supravietuiesc sunt interogati de maiorul SS Dieter Franck. Acesta o admira, o vrea si doreste s-o invinga pe Felicity. Ea insa are un plan in care sa transforme esecul misiunii ei in succes: o echipa de agenti secreti alcatuita din femei care sa se infiltreze in centrala nemtilor, dandu-se drept femei de serviciu. Ce nu stie ea este ca Dieter afla despre planul ei si o asteapta.
Echipa de femei care se incropeste pe nepusa masa este una inedita alcatuita din: o aristocrata aroganta si infumurata, o ucigasa din inchisoare, o cocheta visatoare, o specialista in explozibil trecuta de prima tinerete si un cantaret transexual, specialist in telecomunicatii.
Am retinut si o declaratie de dragoste care mi s-a parut frumoasa:
"Ma declar vinovat. Sunt un tampit. Dar un tampit care te iubeste si-ti cere sa-l ierti de data asta, in caz ca n-o sa te mai vad niciodata."
Romanul are toate ingredientele unui thriller de spionaj si de razboi reusit, are femei curajoase si frumoase, barbati sarmanti, pericol, sex, arme, misiuni riscante, decizii inteligente, calculate si personaje simpatice.
In incheiere atasez cateva citate care mi s-au parut interesante:
"Femeile frumoase erau aidoma minunatelor tablouri impresioniste franceze pe care le colectiona: daca aveai unul asta nu insemna ca nu-ti mai doreai altul."
"Durerea dureaza atata timp cat vrei tu. Cand vei decide sa-i pui capat, se va opri."
"Ai observat, mama, ca barbatii nu-si dau uneori seama cand o fata e proasta de bubuie?"
"Ai grija de mine intr-o lume in care nimeni nu e protejat. Si acum cred doar in tine."
Profile Image for Leslie.
823 reviews67 followers
May 25, 2011
I picked this up on holiday because I'd read through the books I'd brought and this was the only one among the English-language secondhand paperbacks at the hotel I thought I could stand. It's okay, for what it is. Follett keeps the adrenaline going, but there's not much else here. The main characters are all impossibly good-looking and/or bursting with raw sexual energy (one can practically cast it with the appropriate Hollywood A-listers as one reads). The plot is full of twists, as one would expect, but the decision to connect it with the D-Day invasion limits the potential for suspense; I mean, we know the invasion happened and it worked, and if the destruction of this telephone exchange plays a role in it then it has to succeed, too, right? The only real question is exactly who will die along the way, and I didn't care about or believe in any of the characters enough to get too anxious about their survival, and most of the deaths were pretty predictable. The book is full of clunky writing. This is just one bad sentence in a book full of bad sentences: "Beautiful women were like the gorgeous French impressionist paintings he collected: having one did not stop you wanting another." Ugh. A stupid cliche, overloaded with adjectives, and quite typical of the book overall. If all you require is adrenalin and you don't care about character or writing or, well, anything else, it's adequate junk reading. Graham Greene and John Le Carre do spy thrillers far, far better, of course, but I'd have been pretty surprised to find a book by either of them in the stack in my Mexican hotel.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,749 reviews1,266 followers
August 19, 2020

After a chunk of the French resistance in Reims is killed, a ragtag band of (mostly) English female saboteurs are recruited and trained to take their places and blow up an important telephone exchange operated by the Nazis. (They must be female because they're going in undercover as cleaners.)

Follett is from the Captain Obvious school of writing. In my favorite example, the protagonist Flick and her gay brother Mark go to a gay club in London.

A waiter said, "Hello, Markie," and put a hand on Mark's shoulder, but gave Flick a hostile glare.

"Robbie, meet my sister," Mark said. "Her name's Felicity, but we've always called her Flick."

The waiter's attitude changed, and he gave Flick a friendly smile. "Very nice to meet you." He showed them a table.

Flick guessed that Robbie had suspected she might be a girlfriend, and had resented her for persuading Mark to change sides, as it were. Then he had warmed to her when he learned she was Mark's sister.

But the novel is not all such tender scenes as this. In fact there is lots and lots of torture. "Some men enjoyed torturing prisoners," Follett writes. "They smiled when their victims screamed, they got erections as they inflicted wounds, and they experienced orgasms during their victims' death throes." After about the sixth explicit Nazi torture scene, some of it extremely disturbingly sexual, readers can be excused for thinking that some men enjoy writing about torture in the same way.
Profile Image for Shannon.
901 reviews235 followers
May 6, 2014
First off, I feel this is a 3.5 but I'm giving it 4, as some of the reviewers on here have been too harsh.

JACKDAWS takes the standard D-Day spy stories but twists it by focusing on the Historical female agents, or, as they were known, something of the unsung heroes.

This particular tale focuses on a female agent who is trying to knock down the phone lines of an SS HQ but needs to do it as cleaning ladies. So, after failing her first attempt, she heads back to the UK where she, and other govt officials, recruit several female agents for training.

All of these women are untrained and have to do a crash course in spycraft.

Thereafter, the next half of the book entails the women parachuting into France, some of them getting caught or killed and then moving in on the mission. Expect the usual "B" love story.

Story is very good in pacing, and, while some of the characters have the archetypal element, I felt he did a good job creating a diverse selection.

When he wrote EYE OF THE NEEDLE the market was less saturated with WWII stories. Now, they're all over the place, so, he has less of the market, the stories overlap more and expectations are higher for newer and newer stories.

This one is above average to good but not quite either in definition. If you want to read him for the first time, I'd recommend EYE OF THE NEEDLE.
Profile Image for Rosie.
341 reviews38 followers
April 24, 2020
**4,5 estrelas**

A sua agilidade de escrita e a onda electrizante de suspense, deixam o nosso coração aos saltos e os pelos eriçados.

Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Thriller inspirado na Agente Secreta Pearl Witherington, membro executivo de Operações Especiais.

Homenagem a todas as mulheres espias, assim como a todas as outras que de alguma forma contribuíram para o fim da guerra.

Os horrores da tortura.
A morte, os assassínios, as condenações.
A miséria, física e da alma.
Uma missão. Uma corrida contra o tempo. Adrenalina. Decisões de vida ou de morte. Expondo a fragilidade e/ou a coragem exponencial.

Fica-se sem fôlego. Muito bom.

Nota: Apesar do reconhecido contributo de Pearl Witherington e de ter sido recomendada, não era atribuída a Cruz de Guerra a mulheres. Daí a desfaçatez de lhe concederem antes o título de membro civil da Ordem do Império Britânico, que declinou (e muito bem) dizendo “que não fizera nada civil”.
Que mundo este…😝
Profile Image for ChopinFC.
271 reviews79 followers
December 27, 2018
Another stellar entry into the mind and brilliance of Ken Follett!


Follet brings us back into the chaos and madness of WW2, and again brilliantly narrates a story that is filled with action, with engaging characters, and most incredibly based on real events! A group of British amateur 'spies' are recruited to lead a suicide mission into occupied France, and infiltrate and explode a key communication relay center north of Paris. Their mission is a-la 'Mission Impossible' scenario. 5 women are chosen and led by an experienced resistance fighter 'Flick', and she leads a group of least expected women into a formidable mission! Flick herself is badass, beautiful, and willing to give up anything to flag and country. The other women in the other hand...


Follet again set up a narrative that is filled with action and hyperbole, leading to a crescendo worthy of any hollywood movie! The brilliance in Follett is his ability to express his thoughts elegantly in the most simple way possible! It's a near an impossible trait in a writer, but Follet has masterminded this skillset. His characters are riveting, and there's plenty of violence, some sex and lots of humor in the story. He weaves his characters like chess pieces, and in the end he checkmates without difficulty!

5 Stars
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,965 reviews283 followers
September 10, 2018
Whenever I read a Ken Follett novel, I expect a lot. Not every book I’ve read by him has been outstanding but most have and so I always hope for one of those. This one certainly qualifies.

It’s a story that takes place during the ten days just prior to the D-Day landings in 1944 during WWII. The French resistance is in full gear, expecting the imminent invasion, even if they don’t know the exact date. The SOE (Special Operations Executive) in London has determined to support the French resistance in its efforts to sabotage a key target which, in turn, will greatly aid the success of the invasion. The Gestapo HQ in Paris in the square at Sainte-Cécile, also houses the critical telephonic communications hub. If that were to be taken out of commission, then critical communications to those defending against the invasion forces would be severely impacted.

We follow along with Felicity “Flick” Clairet as she builds a team to infiltrate and destroy the communications hub. She chooses all women (Code name: "Jackdaws") so that they can pose as a cleaning crew and make it easier to withstand close scrutiny. Recruitment proves difficult and she must settle for inexperienced women with very little time to train. Most of them are misfits in one fashion or another – comparisons to the Dirty Dozen are not inaccurate.

One mark of an excellent thriller story is the quality of the primary antagonist and here, the character of Major Dieter Franck, working on Field Marshal Rommel’s staff, is a wonderfully drawn bad guy. He is extremely dedicated to his task of finding Flick and stopping her mission, and while he can be deliciously evil in his effective torture techniques, he also demonstrates admirable traits of intelligence and dogged determination.

The pacing here is perfect. A nice buildup of intrigue and emotion and stressful intensity interspersed with danger as well as softly romantic moments. The pages keep turning despite whatever else might be going on in your life that would drag you away from reading further. The danger is real, and not all characters survive but the ending is deeply satisfying.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mihaela Abrudan.
245 reviews16 followers
April 1, 2023
O altă poveste tulburătoare din timpul celui de-al doilea război mondial. Este poveste unui grup de femei parașutat în Franța pentru a sabota o centrală telefonică. Dincolo de ficțiune se află realitatea. Deși femeile au participat activ la servicii de spionaj, după încheierea războiului o mână de bărbați, care nu au prea văzut frontul, au decis modul în care acestea să fie decorate. Bineînțeles că doamnele nu puteau primi decorații de prim rang ca și domnii...
Profile Image for Ana Filipa.
106 reviews
December 16, 2012
Em primeiro lugar começo por dizer que não só o autor, como também o livro me surpreenderam.

Este foi o primeiro livro que escolhi para dar início às leituras de Ken Follett, pois nunca tinha lido nada deste autor. Fiquei um pouco de pé atrás quando li a sinopse, pois pensei ser mais um de tantos livros que iriam descrever espiões e situações horríveis passadas durante a Segunda Grande Guerra. No entanto, este livro surpreendeu-me pela positiva, uma vez que não entramos apenas na trama que se situa ao redor da Grande Guerra, mas também tomamos conhecimento da vida de cada uma das personagens, o que são e de onde vêm.

Flick Clairet, uma agente secreta britânica, tem uma missão a cumprir que irá apaixonar o leitor. Com a Segunda Guerra Mundial como pano de fundo, somos levados a "presenciar" algumas das situações mais horrendas e sufocantes que jamais poderão ter acontecido na história da humanidade.
O que poderia ser uma história aborrecida, tornou-se num turbilhão de emoções e aprendizagens.

E aproveito para dizer que jamais se poderá comparar o trabalho de Ken Follett ao de Daniel Silva.
Profile Image for Kenny Bellew.
443 reviews13 followers
May 9, 2017
This is another historical fiction by Ken Follett. It was published about 15 years ago. This time, it's a about the women of the French Resistance who attempt to help the allied evasion by going after a highly-guarded military target. One of the women is gay man who works as a cross-dressing performer and identifies as a woman. The author calls her female for the whole book.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
489 reviews14 followers
November 5, 2018
This book is dedicated to the 50 unbelievably brave, female secret agents that parachuted into France to gather intelligence or to prepare the invasion on hostile territory during the Second World War. This is one of their (fictional) stories, that is unfortunately all wrong.

First of all, the women: they are basically tough and randy men who just tend to burst into tears, are overly beautiful or just plain stupid.

Second, the plot: we already know the outcome, yes D-Day happened and yes it was a success, so instead the plot uses blunt torture, random sex quickly leading to love and throws in some homosexuals and queers to make it more diverse. Oh yes and all the Nazis’ decision are always plot-relevant meaning that if the author needed someone to survive he was sure to not be tortured right away but for some strategic reason only put away. Overall, this made everything too predictable. I have to confess that by the last 20% I wanted to know how it all ended, but really, I rather I haven’t read this. It is certainly not worthy of these amazingly brave women!

There was one quote that moved me:

My dear Papa, I am doing well in school although Dr Richter’s classroom has been bombed. Fortunately it was night time and the school was empty.

2.5 stars, rounding down.
Profile Image for Sarah.
330 reviews16 followers
September 21, 2008
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Typically, war based stories are so full of minute details that they detract from the story for me. The plot sounded intriguing though, so I decided to give it a shot. It ended up being one of the better WWII stories that I have read. There was enough background information for me to underdstand the historical reference of the story, but it was balanced by a well developed plot. I like reading stories from a non-American perspective since it is a viewpoint that I am not normally exposed to. I do not recall learning in school anything about other countries efforts against the Nazi regime during WWII. While this is a fictional story, I think it serves as an interesting view into the role of the French resistance during the war. My only gripe is that the ending seemed a bit contrite. It was rather convenient that her husband that she no longer wished to be with but had too much respect to leave dies, leaving her able to the marry the man she falls in love with.
Profile Image for Rachael.
22 reviews
March 8, 2015
That's the last time I take a book recommendation from the head cashier at Barnes. The fact that she also recommended The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks should have been warning enough. I think I'll be pulling the fluff out of my eyes for days. Good try, Mr Follet, with your Nazi insignia designed cover and scattering of knowledge about code breaking and writing of LGBT characters. It was not a story about women fighting in the war effort so much as women arguing with each other and hooking up, sometimes with one anither, a Nazi with a twisted love of torture and Judas doors (No, really, we get interogation is about betrayal). I'll always have a special place in my heart for Pillars and World Without End, but no lasting love for Jackdaws.
Profile Image for Razvan Banciu.
1,084 reviews64 followers
June 30, 2023
At first sight, Jackdaws seems a historical novel, but it is more a book for youngsters. as much as "Hornet Flight" it combines known facts from WWII and fiction, but this time I have more remarks to do:
- you have to be very stupid indeed to assail the castle from Sainte-Cecile, as long as Germans are the masters of the town
- there are too many temporal coincidences, as that of Michael running from the escort and going to the bar immediately after Flick
- it's childish from Paul to suddenly let his toothbrush at the door and Flick to find it...
In any case, however, the style, the action and the characters made the book a pleasant one, so three stars are a good rating indeed.
Profile Image for Ana.
466 reviews55 followers
February 22, 2019
“Nome de Código Leoparda” é baseado em factos verídicos. A personagem de Flick foi construída a partir da história de Pearl Witherington membro do EOE (Executivo de Operações Especiais).
É um romance passado na II Guerra Mundial e aborda a força das mulheres e a importância que elas assumiram na vitória dos Aliados, mas esse estatuto nunca foi reconhecido oficialmente, porque pelo facto de serem mulheres nunca poderem ser condecoradas.
Profile Image for G.A..
Author 7 books24 followers
March 22, 2018
Follet come al solito costruisce una piccola storia durante la ‘grande storia’ che è un gioiello.
Profile Image for Emerson.
167 reviews47 followers
July 28, 2019
O livro possui um ritmo de narrativa muito fluido, capítulos curtos, isso faz com que o leitor leia um atrás do outro, e quando damos por si já lemos cem páginas. Há dois pontos de vista diferente: da protagonista britânica infiltrada na França, ocupada pelo exército alemão, e o ponto de vista de um oficial nazista. E isso se torna briga de cão e gato, a agente dos Aliados tentando concluir sua missão secreta, e o oficial nazista testando desvendar e interceptar o plano vigente dos Aliados, um sem conhecer o outro.
Com cenas de humor, ação, suspense, tortura e os horrores da segunda guerra mundial, inspirado numa história real, As Espiãs do D é, sem dúvida, um ótimo livro.
Profile Image for Ram.
656 reviews43 followers
November 22, 2020
A spy/war suspense book. The historical context and atmosphere of the book is nice, as expected from Ken Follett. The plot is interesting but many times I found myself thinking, did they really have to send complete amateurs to do the job? Couldn’t they find more skilled people for this (local or imported)? I admit that I do not know if the WW2 spy part of this book does represent real events or is just complete fantasy.

Bottom line, it was a good read but some of the decision making of the characters did not make sense.
Profile Image for J.F. Penn.
Author 45 books2,150 followers
June 17, 2011
Full video review here : http://mysterythriller.tv/jackdaws-by...

I have always found Ken Follett too verbose but this book was an excellent fast read with a great female lead character. Flick Clairet is one of a select group of women helping the French Resistance during the final years of the Second World War. She is married to a French man, the leader of the resistance in Reims and in the opening sequence we see a group of them fail to overcome a telephone exchange that is crucial to the Germans. 

Several of the local resistance members are captured, tortured and a German intelligence officer is able to start unravelling the underground team there. He is a ruthless torturer although we also see his cultured side and his love for a Jewish mistress. He even gets terrible migraines when he has to torture people so Follett manages to create a villain who is still believable and not a caricature of the evil Nazi.

After the failure of the team, Flick is determined to get back to the exchange and blow it up, creating a critical gap in communications at the same time as the Allied forces invade. The timing is crucial and the book is basically her mission back to Reims in order to accomplish this task. The only way in is to recruit other women to act as an all-female team disguised as cleaners. In that way they can get into the exchange and blow up the communications. The women Flick recruits have been rejected by other services and are generally unsuitable, a ragtag bunch including a convicted murderer, a Cockney explosives expert thief, a lesbian aristocrat and a transvestite whose lover had been killed by the Germans. The journey the women take, the danger they get into is the crux of the story. No spoilers but as in real life, they don’t all make it.

Flick is characterized as a hard soldier in that she is able to shoot a traitor and and fight in hand to hand combat, but she also has a softer side and is able to love and think about marriage. I like these types of characters and she made the story believable. She and Dieter, the Nazi interrogator are by far the strongest characters in the book and it really was a battle between these two throughout the book.

Although you know that of course the Allies will win in the end, you still don’t know until the last pages whether the team will survive. I enjoyed the book, reading it on a windy, wild Auckland day in pretty much one sitting. It’s a thriller with an intelligent female heroine. Recommended!
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews17 followers
March 6, 2014

Read by Kate Reading. Unabridged, on 9 1/2 Tapes

blurb from Publishers Weekly- Time is running out. With D-Day rapidly approaching, the Nazis are actively trying to quash the French resistance. Meanwhile, Britain's Special Operations branch is working hard to supply the resistance with intelligence, supplies and agents. Felicity "Flick" Clairet is one of England's most effective operatives in northern France. Having failed in an assault on the Nazis' main European telephone exchange, she regroups in England for another attempt, this time with an all-female team that will infiltrate the exchange under the guise of a French cleaning staff. Unfortunately, finding female agents fluent in French proves impossible and Flick resorts to crash-training nonprofessionals for the task. Imagine Charlie's Angels (minus the campiness) in The Guns of Navarone. Written in Follett's (Pillars of the Earth, etc.) riveting style and with his penchant for historical detail, the Jackdaws (the codename of the all-girl team) are given a heightened air of authenticity with Kate Reading's performance. She flavors her confident delivery with a wry cynicism that is inherent to Flick's character, and her use of international as well as regional accents keeps the rapid narrative flowing flawlessly.

Shamelessly nicking the tagline: the female dirty dozen

If I was cynical I could say this may be Follett's very own recurring wet dream:

A dozen females in dress-up
S & M
Gratuitous sex
Nazi goose-steppers

Sounds like that Mel Brookes filmscript doesn't it. And if not that, maybe it would have been a strong contender for the Benny Hill-esque Chase Scene or toned down this could be an assignment for Charlie's original trio .

All that said, this was rather good, taut and exciting, however it was hard to keep concentrating with all these asides my brain wanted to fling at me.

ETA - hah! scanning through the reviews here I'm not alone with the brain-swerve into jocularity as there is a reference to 'allo 'allo

Profile Image for Angela.
524 reviews30 followers
November 19, 2018

"Exactly fifty women were sent into France as secret agents by the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. Of those, thirty-six survived the war. The other fourteen gave their lives. This book is dedicated to all of them."
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