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The Tiger Claw

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  509 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Shauna Singh Baldwin first heard of the mysterious story of Noor Inayat Khan (codename Madeleine) at The Safe House, an espionage-themed restaurant in Milwaukee. A former Dutch spy told her of the brave and beautiful Indo-American woman who left her family in London, England to become a spy in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War.

The story immediately intrigued
Paperback, 592 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Vintage Canada (first published 2004)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  509 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
It’s been two weeks since I finished The Tiger Claw and I sat down to update and couldn’t at all remember what I had read since Galveston, which can’t be a good sign (whether of my memory or of the texts, I can’t be sure).

I took The Tiger Claw on a week’s holiday with my family, which always means ample time to read. Even with all kinds of opportunity, I struggled to motivate myself to keep reading. I suppose there’s only one way to put it: The Tiger Claw was boring. And it has no right to be! I
Mar 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
I never got into this book, even after 130 pages. I didn't care about the characters and every description was so so winded. I felt I gave it a chance, but I had to put it down.
I first learned about Noor Khan while reading A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII. When I was in Montreal earlier this year, I saw this book and picked it up.

As some other reviews have pointed out, the writing is both compelling and at the same time, the book could've been a little shorter. There are places where part of your mind will suggest coldly, perhaps, that the editing could've been tighter, that there is no need to repeat that. Despite this, however, the story
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Nov 18, 2011 rated it did not like it

"When Noor Khan’s father, a teacher of mystical Sufism, dies, Noor is forced to bow, along with her mother, sister and brother, to her uncle’s religious literalism and ideas on feminine propriety. While at the Sorbonne, Noor falls in love with Armand, a Jewish musician. Though her uncle forbids her to see him, they continue meeting in secret.

When the Germans invade in 1940, Armand persuades Noor to leave him for her own safety. She flees with her family to England, but volunteers to serv
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2012
I am not sure what to say about this novel. It is the fictionalized account of Noor Khan, an Indian/American/British woman who was a spy for the French Resistance during WWII. It was also a kind of love story, although the love story seemed be more of a sub-plot. The main story seemed to be about a woman who finds the strength to be the kind of woman that she has to be, if that makes any sense.

So here are the blah parts of the novel: 1) a bit slow to get into 2) the main character could have be
Toni Osborne
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Noor Khan parented by a teacher of mystical Sufism falls in love with Armand Rivkin a Jewish pianist but is forbidden to see him in the name of religion and propriety. When the Germans invade France in 1940, Noor and her family are forced to flee to England for their safety. Once there, due to Noors background she is recruited by the special intelligence agency and is sent to France to contribute to the underground resistance movement. With this mission she hopes to reunite with her true love... ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was a very big disappointment. The synopsis of the book is incredibly interesting but the author did a horrible job in execution. Like many people said, this book was boring. I really struggled to finish this book and I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to finish it because reading it was so frustrating. I didn't really like any of the characters and the descriptions of everything are so tediously long that I felt like I should have just passed over them. This book is set during Wor ...more
Tina Siegel
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The Tiger Claw’ by Shauna Singh Baldwin was one of those surprises. I started reading it because I couldn’t settle on anything else, and it happened to be available. Didn’t have high expectations - in fact, I barely had mediocre expectations.

Turns out, it’s wonderful.

The book is inspired by the life of Noor Inayat Kahn, and her work for British intelligence during WWII. It follows her behind enemy lines in France as she relays information between her fellow SOE agents and London. Being who sh
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The true story of Noor Inayat Khan, a female spy of Indian descent who worked for the French resistance in WWII. There were parts of this book which were powerful and well-written (Noor's diary while in a German prison), but overall, there were many parts of the book which were boring and lacked action. The excellent parts of the book were overshadowed by these. This book could have been a 5-star read had it all been told in Noor's voice. I am interested to pick up another book by Shauna Singh B ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5. What amazed me was a story in which the reader knows so much more about the probable outcomes of the plot than the characters. Somehow that broke my heart at times; sometimes I wanted to intervene; sometimes I was simply glad not to be in any of their shoes. Written with delicacy and restraint, I found it powerful and unflinching: compelling to the very end.
Jane Glen
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I made a new category- unfinished- for those books where I have read a considerable amount but just can't finish. This is one of them. Thought it would be good (a Giller finalist) but boring with poor character development. Putting this aside.
Kathleen McRae
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This book was a bit meandering although it had a good storyline.
Gail Fenton
Nov 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to like it, but just found it straight up boring. It was slow as molasses and dry and just a bore. Sorry. Moving on.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read.
Exhausting, heart-breaking, beautiful.

A fictionalized tale of Noor Inayat Khan, Indian-British spy in France during WW2, told from her perspective, jumping around in time.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I highly regret wasting so many hours on this book. I chose this book for my independent novel in school (It had to be a Canadian author where at least one of their books were up for an award) not knowing much of any Canadian authors who've actually won a reward for a book I had to do some searching. I ended up coming across this book. My initial response to reading the back wasn't good but I didn't have enough time to find a better looking one and anyway "she's a spy in WWII that's kind of inte ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This could have been a much better account of what is a real story, were it not for the frequent exceedingly self-absorbed religious & philosophical musings of the heroine Noor Khan, in times of difficulty during her emprisonment in particular. She was the daughter of a Sufi teacher & veena musician and an American mother, who was raised in France except for a couple of years in India, and whose family fled to England, just prior to the outbreak of WW2. She had met & fallen in love w ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to enjoy this novel. The back of the book really intrigued me, I read up on Noor Khan and was fascinated by her story, and I saw that it has won awards. However, this story left me wanting. The bones of the story are great, but it's in desperate need for tighter editing. I found that I could quickly skim entire pages and not feel as though I were missing a thing, the characters lacked any real depth, and I found the story to drag on.

Noor is obsessed with a guy she used to date. H
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Singh Baldwin has chosen an intriguing and fascinating real-life heroine - Noor inayat Khan, daughter of an esteemed Sufi teacher and musician, a Muslim Indian who was raised in Paris during the 30s, and who, under the code name Madeleine, returned to Nazi-occupied France to work underground as a transmitter for the Resistance. By the autor's own admission, this fictionalized version of her life "begins from fact but departs quickly into imagination ... to explore as if through her eyes, to feel ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melinda by:

This is a book that I read for the book club I've joined. I don't remember hearing of it,but I know I've read the first chapter before...or maybe it was read on CBC and I heard it? At any rate, this was another really good book. It is a fictionalized autobiography, based on the true story of Noor Khan aka Nora Baker, an Indian national, who grew up in Paris and went to London with her family in the early days of WWII. She trained as a wireless operator with the Brits and went back to Occupied Pa
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing and engrossing story. It is a fictionalized account of WWII resistance agent Noor Inayat Khan. Her father was Indian and a sufi from Baroda ( now Vadodara) and her mother was American. The story starts with Noor imprisoned at Pforzheim, Germany having been captured in France while transmitting messages via wireless to her British headquarters and alternates between her current situation. It retells the story of her life up to and including her incarceration. Throughout the st ...more
May 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
A story about Noor Khan - SOE operative in France in WW2. Of American and Indian descent in a time when people were being exterminated for their race, (by Hitler and by policies in India), Noor risks going to France to try and find her love, a Jewish musician named Armand.

While the story was a bit slow in building, it had so many interesting questions that I eventually was quite drawn into what was happening. Why is colonialism ok unless it happens on European soil? Why is it so easy for people
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book more than Shauna Singh Baldwin's more touted debut novel (What the Body Remembers). My word for this book is "satisfying" - the love story is unabashedly sentimental with a setting that was both familiar (set during WWII) and fresh (a female British secret service agent). The only significant critique I have of Mrs. Baldwin's writing is that I find the cultural context/background, in this case the protagonist is a Sufi Muslim, is a bit heavy handed (to be clear the same is very ...more
I read this novel a few years ago, but I still think about it and recommend it to people. My description wouldn't give the plot justice, as there is a lot going on all the time. The novel is based on the true story of a woman named Noor who was a spy for the Allies during WWII. The story shifts from her time in a Nazi prison where she is being held as a traitor to the events in her past leading up to her decision to become a spy and her eventual capture. Noor's fate remains completely unknown to ...more
duck reads
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coc-ic, wc, fiction, canw, woc-iw, ww
Charming, heavily-fictionalised account of the adventures of real life spy Noor Inayat Khan, a radio operator working for the British government in the French Resistance during WWII. In the novel, Noor describes herself as a member of many tribes, and the depiction of her experiences amid the adventure and danger of being a spy in WWII is informed by that position. A very interesting look at the attitudes and cultures that thrived during--and arguably, helped produce--a world war.

(Notable for b
Jan 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: canlit, giller-prize
I FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK!!! It was well written a great story, but the author took FAR TOO MANY pages to tell it. Unfortunately I was bored to tears through much of it.

QUOTE: “With Armand, I was unconscious of being woman, unconscious of him as man. With him I could act, and he had liberty to feel. I loved him for what he confided to me, the glimpse of his forbidden inner core, for the things I could say only to him when he shared my body and was enclosed by me. In those moments there was no
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting portrait of a young Muslim Indian woman during WWII whose love for a Jew inspires her to go to work for the SOE as a radio operator in occupied France helping the RAF. Intriguing to get the perspective of a culture not often cited during this time period, but about a hundred pages too long.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"I resist, therefore I am" - The Tiger Claw. Shauna Singh Baldwin has done it again. This book broke my heart more times than I can count. But honestly, the perfect balance of historical and the fictional details blew me away. I have to say, I'm tied between What the Body Remembers and the Tiger Claw. Both have won me over.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I am a sucker for love stories, World War Two stories, and stories based on true characters. This is it for all three. Probably one of my fave books, it's about an East Indian woman who loves a French man who is Jewish as Europe erupts in chaos. He's sent to a concentration camp, she's frantic, she tries to find him, he's moved to another camp - just read it!
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Shauna Singh Baldwin is a Canadian-American novelist of Indian descent. Her 2000 novel What the Body Remembers won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canadian/Caribbean Region), and her 2004 novel The Tiger Claw was nominated for the Giller Prize. She currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Baldwin and her husband own the Safe House, an espionage themed restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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