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Code Name Hélène

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  11,345 ratings  ·  1,804 reviews
This book is based on the life of Nancy Wake, an Australian expat who worked as a reporter for Hearst in Paris just before WWII and later as a spy for the British. Lawhon throws readers into the middle of the action, as Nancy, under the alias Hélène, prepares to parachute from an RAF plane into France to help the Resistance in 1944, carrying in her head memorized lists of ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Doubleday Books
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Katherine Hardee Yes...and it is fabulous on audio. Highly recommend.
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Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I love books and movies about women spies. I have read quite a few about WWII and even WWI, though those women are not as well recognized.

This is the first book that I have read by this author. From the blurb of the book you know that :

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence
Fictionally, Nancy is presented as a chic tough heroine who never fights without a fresh application of lipstick. The character of Nancy Wake holistically is interesting and I enjoyed her unapologetic nature.

A lot of the past, 1936, is about how Nancy met her husband, Henri. The development of their relationship takes the limelight for the first half of the book.

Nancy's different identities, totaling four, are not exactly told chronologically. The book is told in dual timelines, but two of her
Anne Bogel
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! This WWII novel tells the story of Nancy Wake, the unsung French Resistance leader who was #1 on the Gestapo’s most-wanted list by the end of the war.

The real Nancy was larger than life; bold, bawdy, and brazen—a woman who, as the only female among thousands of
French men, was not only respected as an equal but revered as a leader. The story is set during WWII, yes—a setting the author says she came to kicking and screaming, because there are a lot these days—but at its heart this
Darryl Greer
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Wake was a New Zealand-born, Australian-raised nurse and journalist who joined the French Resistance and later the British SOE – Special Operations Executive – during World War II. Her exploits during the war earned her the George Medal from the UK, the Medal of Freedom from the US, the Légion d’honneur from France and medals from Australia and New Zealand – she became Australia’s most decorated heroine in World War II. Her exploits also earned her the title ‘The White Mouse’ from the Gest ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Nancy Wake... Nancy Fiocca—is the kind of woman who conquers the world. Fearless. Ferocious. Nancy is the sort of woman who bathes in a meteor shower. She is not the kind of woman who concedes to anyone. (c)

The ragged timeline actually made this novel a lot worse than it could have been.

This is not anywhere close to a contender for the title of the best book about WW2. Lots is severely watered down. For example, I was extremely irritated with that lipstick nonsense going on: for people who ac
So here I am once again in the land of the "wish I could have liked it better". I am an avid fan of well done historical fiction, and of course looking at all the raving reviews on this story, I was ready to settle in and be amazed and awed by this tale.

What I liked about the book....

--- it did allow me to learn about a woman who I had never heard of. As a teacher for thirty plus years, it often amazes and disappoints me that I never knew of these courageous, fearless, and audacious women of the
Megan C.
I'm a sucker for a true story. Although categorized as historical fiction, the core characters and events in this book are real.

I was sitting on a solid 4 stars throughout 75% of this book, but the last quarter (and also the author's note at the end) blew it up to a 5 star read for me. Color me obsessed with Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, aka The White Mouse/Madame Andree, code name Helene. She was fierce, salty, irreverent, strong, and unapologetic. She threw on a coat of Lizzie Arden's Victory Red
I have read many stories of the famous Australian, Nancy Wake; I even have her biography autographed by Nancy herself. I found Code Name Helene to be refreshing and heartwarmingly real. Nancy Wake went through several years of pure hell during WWII but it was when she met her husband-to-be, Henri Fiocca in 1936 that she found, for the first time in her life, true love. Nancy and Henri hadn’t been married long when war was declared and Henri was called up to fight, leaving Nancy home alone. It di ...more
Jul 05, 2020 marked it as dnf
The real life story of Nancy Wake's work for the French Resistance during WWII is fascinating, but the writing style and the eye-rolling, insta-love watered down the accomplishments of this amazing woman.

I abandoned the book and spent some time online reading about Nancy Wake, which was far more satisfying.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss-2020, 2020
4 strong historical fiction stars

At 464 pages, this one is a tale you can really sink your teeth into. It has many elements of historical fiction that I love – strong female character, WWII France, resistance efforts, a bit of a love story, espionage, dastardly Germans. It’s even better that it is based on a real person – Nancy Wake Fiocca, an Australian woman who becomes fiercely French and is determined to drive the Nazis out of her adopted country.

The book takes the alternate storyline approa
Susan Meissner
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unputdownable! Nancy Wake is every writer's dream of a real-life person's life story to fictionalize. And Ariel Lawhon handles the details flawlessly. Highly recommend... ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is strong historical WWII fiction based on the resistance work of glamorous socialite turned secret agent, Nancy Wake. Fearless, audacious, and resolute, Wake was a force to be reckoned with all while wearing red Chanel lipstick. Now there’s a woman after my heart. Going by four different code names she thwarted the Nazis at every turn and became the “most wanted” with a sizable price on her head. She also took on members of the resistance who balked at taking orders from a woman with the p ...more
DNF @ 2%

"I raise one palm and shove it toward his face while I unbuckle myself with my other hand. He's muttering profanities as I unzip my purse and dig through the contents looking for my tube of Lizzie Arden lipstick. For once, I'm not concerned about my forged travel documents or the one million French francs neatly stacked inside. Nor do I double-check that I still have the list of targets that must, no matter what, be distributed once the Allied forces land in France. I am frantic to fi
Gloria Arthur
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-bookshelf
I love a good historical fiction story and Code Name Hélène did not disappoint. This powerful and thrilling WWII story is fictional but it’s based on the remarkable young socialite Nancy Wake who went off to war while her French husband stayed behind.

I loved Nancy’s character she was a feisty and independent woman who used profanity liberally and with flair and could drink any man under the table, she even killed a Nazi with her bare hands! Nancy applied her lipstick like a badge of honour in t
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
1936. Australian expat, Nancy Wake, lives in Paris and works as a freelancer. She has paved her way onto the roster at Hearst.

When the story starts progressing with her investigative work, the moment I thought I was getting into it, another man’s facial description pops up. It’s like some kind of infatuation with facial descriptions.

When the story starts alternating to different places, for a moment it felt as it was about to pick up the pace, but then it’s on and on about broken camera.

The sto
Kari Ann Sweeney
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
PUB DATE April 2020

I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of Code Name Hélène ahead of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club Retreat and the hear Ariel Lawhon's thoughts when she joined the group in person.  While I’ve read and enjoyed all of her fiction books- this is hands down my favorite.

Hélène is just one of four code names used by Nancy Wake. A relentless, unapologetic, feminine, brave woman who stood toe-to-toe with her male counterparts in the French Resistance during WWII.  Beyond her work in the
Tina Woodbury
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am sitting here, hands hovering over the keyboard, trying to figure out how in the world I am going to put into words how much I enjoyed this book!

This book alternates time periods, but it all takes place between the 1930’s – 1940’s. The book opens on February 29, 1944, “Leap Day”. Hélène is preparing to jump out of an airplane and into France, but before she can do that she must first apply her red lipstick. It is her armor and she is a saboteur, she is there to help the resistance in any way
Laura Peden
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars! I don’t read much historical fiction but when I read the publishing blurb it grabbed my attention! BASED ON THE THRILLING REAL-LIFE STORY OF SOCIALITE SPY NANCY WAKE,
featuring the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII....

Even though it’s a bit lengthy, I was never bored with the story. There’s even a beautiful love story to enjoy! If you like WWII historical fiction don’t miss this one!
From Ariel Lawhon's Website:

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

I did enjoy this book of romance and intrigue. At first I thought Nancy's words were irreverent and sarcastic, unbefitting a serious historical fiction. But then I came to appreciat
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
First off, I won this through the First Look Book Club. Thank you Suzanne and Penguin Random House.

This book is the partially fictionalized of Nancy Wake, SOE agent during The Second World War. Not to be spoilerish, here is a link to her obituary in The Guardian :

She was an amazing woman. Read this story and see how amazing.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars. I made it halfway through and then started skimming. The real life story of Nancy Wake is undeniably interesting, but this book is...not. Melodramatic to the point of parody and horribly structured (WHY is the husband's POV included at random?) and the only really interesting part of the story was her involvement with the French Resistance; the narrative about her and her husband pre-war reads like it was cut-and-pasted from a completely different (and equally bad) romance novel. Also ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Wow did I choose the wrong time to read this book.

That ending was super depressing. Hate to knock points off because the story ended in a historically accurate manner but shit. It was bad enough to make me want to throw it.
Karen R
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my fourth Lawhon book and I was eager to dig in as she is one of my favorite authors. Based on a real-life story of socialite spy Nancy Wake, a woman who ran counterintelligence missions, the story did not disappoint. It is thrilling from beginning to end. Lawhon has built strong characters/relationships and weaves in World War II historical moments. The love story between Nancy and Henri is an exceptionally enchanting one.

Nancy Wake is a natural-born leader, strong, independent and clea
Melissa Crytzer Fry
This was the right book at the right time for me – the story of a tough-as-nails woman whose struggles and bravery make our shelter-in-place woes seem trivial. (Yes, the fictional story is – remarkably – based on a real-life character). This is the story of Nancy Grace Augusta Wake’s resistance efforts during WWII in France, but also it is a story of her marriage.

The character is full of pluck, and the story – despite its serious nature – showcased some laugh-out-loud moments. I continue to appr
Apr 19, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf, audio, overdrive
This wasn’t for me. I need to read a nonfiction book about Nancy Wake.
An engrossing presentation of the life of Nancy Wake, an amazing woman & one of the top spies in World War II. She led men in the French Resistance & lived to tell many tales. This is the 2nd book I’ve read about her.

Ariel Lawhon is a talented, detail-oriented author. She brings the time period and characters to life. She used a dual timeline style—going backward & forward to flesh out different years in Nancy’s own life. (A few times her cutoffs didn’t work so well for me & impeded the forward
Linda Hutchinson
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would not be 100% truthful if I said that historical fiction is my favorite genre.  It isn’t. However, I was fortunate to receive an ARC of “Code Name Helene” by author Ariel Lawhon which won me over with a fantastic tale of heroism. This book is set toward the end of World War II, but it’s much more than a war story. It’s a story about a strong, opinionated, brave, and determined woman who worked with the French Resistance during WWII. The heroine’s real name was Nancy Wake and she brought or ...more
Amanda (TheBookwormAdventures)
*Thank you to Doubleday Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Nancy Wake was known as many names during her time in reconnaissance against the Germans during World War II: Mrs. Fiocca, Lucienne Carlier, The White Mouse, Hélène, and finally, Madame Andrè. What name would I give her? Total and complete badass. And I don’t feel bad saying that, because Nancy - who was a very real person - was known for her “unladylike” language and cursing and I just c
☝️Reposted because someone was just ugly to me about my review☝️
Thought I would like it but I didn’t! I couldn’t finish it either!
Rating: 1 star
Warning: bad language, adultery, hatred of men, heavy flirting and militant feminism
Recommend: I can’t recommend it, sorry
Read: 7/10-14/20
Reading interest level: Boring and then I DNF
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story about a badass women who will do anything to fight for her country.
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Ariel Lawhon is the critically acclaimed, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, FLIGHT OF DREAMS, I WAS ANASTASIA, and CODE NAME HELENE. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, w ...more

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“The thing about lipstick, the reason it’s so powerful, is that it is distracting. Men don’t see the flashes of anger in your eyes or your clenched fists when you wear it. They see a woman, not a warrior, and that gives me the advantage.” 4 likes
“Love is a choice. It is the active choosing of good for another person. But like? It is a gift and it cannot be forced.” 2 likes
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