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review 2020-12-11 05:17
A Woman of No Importance
A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell

An outstanding story from start to finish.  I listened to the audio and the narrator did an outstanding job, making an already riveting story one that I wanted to just sit and listen to, rather than serving as just a diversion while in traffic.


Virginia Hall, by any standard measure of time, accomplishment, daring, intelligence or bravery, was a heroine.  Her gender makes no difference in this distinction, nor does her disability, but both render her accomplishments during WWII even more astounding.  

Sonia Purnell does an excellent job chronicling the life of Hall, in spite of what she admits upfront was a daunting process of historical research in the face of archive fires, classified intelligence in multiple countries, and Hall's own ingrained reticence to discuss her work or accept accolades for her contributions to ending the war.  Her speculations as to what might have happened during gaps in primary sources seem few, and the writing makes those speculations clear.  She also doesn't just rely solely on chronicling Virginia's life, but covers quite a bit of the story of the French Resistance, especially in Lyon, during the Vichy government, and the Nazi take-over leading up to the invasion of Normandy.


The history is at times romantic in true Bond style, terrifying, and heartbreaking.  The details of Vichy and Nazi interrogating techniques is NOT for the feint of heart, and the post-war years for Virginia were a mixture of recognition of her talents and accomplishments, and a disgusting record of 50's misogyny.  I appreciated that the author made the effort to be accurate, not falling into the easy route of railing against all the discrimination and not giving time to those men in the intelligence and government sectors that stood up and gladly gave her the credit she earned and deserved.  Purnell tries to be balanced, and I think she succeeds brilliantly, pointing out the CIA's mistakes and their own efforts to take responsibility for them.


I'm thankful I found this book, and I'm thankful Purnell wrote it, giving men and women around the world another authentic role model and hero to look to.  I can't help but wonder, though, how Hall herself would view this fine work.  I hope, in spite of her life-long secrecy and desire to remain unknown, she'd appreciate her life's achievements as the valuable legacy they are to future generations.

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text 2020-05-26 19:17
Reading progress update: I've read 8%.
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

"Dr. Pixwell is a specialist in bioarchaeology," she said. "She works on archaeological digs in Egypt."

"That´s right," Pix said. "You read my faculty bio?"

"No," Stevie said. "The teeth, your shirt, you´ve got an Eye of Horus tattooed on your wrist, the chamomile tea in the kitchen has packaging written in Arabic, and you have a tan line on your forehead from a head covering. Just a guess."

"That´s extremely impressive," Pix said, nodding. Everyone was quiet for a moment. A fly buzzed around Stevie´s head.

"Stevie thinks she´s Sherlock Holmes," her father said.




I really do think she has read the faculty bio.



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text 2020-05-26 11:04
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Murder in the Mews: Four Cases of Hercule Poirot (Audio) - Agatha Christie,Nigel Hawthorne

I remember not being particularly fond of these stories, but they are actually quite good.


I´m still a little bit disappointed that the first story hasn´t been narrated by Hugh Fraser, though. It´s not that Nigel Hawthorne did a bad job, but he doesn´t even come close to Hugh Fraser, who is on a whole other planet when it comes to the narration of these books.

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text 2020-05-16 10:46
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Death in the Clouds - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser

Not one of my favorite Poirot novels, but still a good one. The biggest issues that I have with this book are the lack of memorable characters, the fact that I found the solution to the mystery to be a bit lackluster and the final reveal to be not very well developed.


However, Poirot is a first rate matchmaker, especially in this novel. And I adore that about him.



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text 2020-05-07 17:44
Reading progress update: I´ve read 100%
A Royal Pain - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

The mystery is so-so and yes, there are some incredibly silly bits in this and I could have shoved Hanni in a ditch. But these books are also incredibly fun and Katherine Kellgren´s narration is excellent.

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