A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of Virginia Hall, WWII's Most Dangerous Spy (Paperback)Sonia Purnell (author)
A Woman of No Importance charts the incredible career of Virginia Hall – the most important female spy in the Second World War, the Gestapo’s most urgent target and a crucial force in the French Resistance. A powerful, superbly gripping story about exceptional courage in the face of tyranny.
In 1942, the Gestapo would stop at nothing to track down a mysterious 'limping lady' who was fighting for the freedom of France. The Nazi chiefs issued a simple but urgent command: 'She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.'
The Gestapo's target was Virginia Hall, a glamorous American with a wooden leg who broke through the barriers against her gender and disability to be the first woman to infiltrate Vichy France for the SOE. In so doing she helped turn the course of the intelligence war.
This is the epic tale of an heiress who determined that a hunting accident would not define her existence; a young woman who gambled her life to fight for the freedoms she believed in; an espionage novice who helped to light the flame of French Resistance.
Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall, an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance and personal triumph over shocking adversity.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 337 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 34 mm
Purnell's account of Hall's hectic, amphetamine-fuelled exploits never falters. It recalls Caroline Moorehead's wonderful book, Village of Secrets, but has an added touch of Ben Macintyre's brio ... A rousing tale of derring-do' - Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times, Book of the Week
Soon to be a film starring Daisy Ridley, Purnell's life of the SOE agent Virginia Hall is a cracking story about an extraordinarily brave woman - Telegraph Best Holiday Beach Reads
As gripping as any thriller ... a superb biography ... Purnell nimbly takes the reader through Hall's complicated manoeuvres all over central France and beyond. And in doing so, she paints a rounded portrait of a complicated, resourceful, determined and above all brave woman - Irish Times
Brimming with moving tales of courage in the face of tyranny, this is a worthy tribute to an incredible figure - Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror
A cracking story of an extraordinarily brave woman . . . extraordinarily well-researched . . . thrilling - Anne de Courcy, Telegraph
Excellent . . . Purnell's meticulous research into Hall's life and work has taken her not only through British SOE papers and resistance files in France, but also through nine levels of security at the CIA in Langley - Spectator
Purnell mixes telling detail with narrative verve to convey both the excitements of Hall's precarious existence and the force of her indomitable spirit - Mail on Sunday
Riveting ... one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines ... An intimate and moving portrayal - Sarah Helm, author of If This Is A Woman and A Life In Secrets
A gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer - Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist
Purnell's extensive research brings the facts of Virginia's life into brilliant focus - Jane Shilling, Evening Standard
With her thriller-writer's style and copious new research, Purnell has written a fitting and moving tribute to an amazing woman - The Economist
It is easy to see why Hollywood is showing interest in Purnell's account of Hall, an authentic heroine who was also American, disabled and a woman. "Marie" thoroughly deserved her laurels - Max Hastings, Sunday Times
The extraordinary facts of [Hall's] life are brought onto the page here with a well-judged balance of empathy and fine detail. This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down - Mick Herron, New York Times
Gripping . . . With this book, the true extent of Hall's heroic contribution to the war effort is known at last - Jane Warren, Express
Impressively researched and compellingly written, this brilliant biography puts Virginia Hall - and her prosthetic leg Cuthbert - back where they belong: right in the heart of resistance history - Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved and The Women Who Flew for Hitler
The remarkable life of the American Second World War spy Virginia Hall is due to get the Hollywood treatment - the Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is slated to play her on screen. In Hall's biography by Sonia Purnell all the details of her incredible adventures are gathered together for a breath-taking read - Irish Examiner, This summer's top reads
Courage, resourcefulness, ingenuity: Hall possessed them all, and in Purnell she has found the ideal biographer - Tablet
Sonia Purnell has exhaustively researched Virginia Hall's career in archives in many countries, and she writes with authority and in vivid detail. This book is a cracking story - Oldie
A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance - NPR
An incredible story of under-appreciated heroism - USA Today
An inspiring account of an extraordinary woman's bravery that will keep you gripping your seat - Rebecca Wallersteiner, The Lady Book of the Week
Remarkable ... this lively examination... shows how, if Hall had been a man, dropping undercover in and out of occupied Vichy, Paris, and Lyon, setting up safe houses, and coordinating couriers for the Resistance, she would now be as famous as James Bond... Meticulous research results in a significant biography of a trailblazer who now has a CIA building named after her - Kirkus Reviews
This true tale of courage will take your breath away - Best
Purnell vividly resurrects an underappreciated hero and delivers an enthralling story of wartime intrigue...fans of WWII history and women's history will be riveted - Publishers Weekly
Fascinating! careful research and skilful writing, Sonia Purnell, in A Woman of No Importance, takes you deep into the covert operations Hall led in Nazi-occupied France, first for the British and then for the Americans. Readers will find this tale of her cunning and courage riveting - Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage
Virginia Hall was considered the most dangerous of all the Allieds' spies by the Nazis - and her the untold story of the American with a wooden leg who became the French Resistance's key intelligence contact is finally revealed - Independent
This compelling story has remained under wraps until now, with the publication of Sonia Purnell's dramatic and extremely well-researched account. - Country Life
[A Woman of No Importance is] Sonia Purnell's astonishing account of the wartime escapades of special ops agent Virginia Hall . . . Hall's actions, which helped galvanise the Resistance movement, were guided by an indomitable spirit and fierce sense of purpose, and her perilous escape over the Pyrenees in November 1942 makes for nail-biting reading - Financial Times
A cracking biography of Virginia Hall, the tall, beautiful, one-legged Special Operations Executive agent who in 1941 was sent to occupied France undercover as a journalist to mobilise résistants ahead of D-Day. She became, in the Gestapo's view, the Allies' most dangerous spy. - Daily Telegraph
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“A Woman of no Importance”
Saw this book and thought it linked to a book I'd recently read called " A Treachery of Spies" by Manda Scott which was to do with the SOE and Resistance in France in WW2 - fiction.
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“Gripping review of Virginia Hall's life”
This is a tremendous read about a truly remarkable woman, showing great courage in the face of terrorizing times. I really couldn't put the book down, once I started reading it. The war time experiences of... More
“An extraordinary woman”
Virginia Hall lead the most interesting but frustrating life, and this book gives her trials and tribulations justice. Thank you Purnell for bringing Hall's history to the contemporary reader, without this novel... More
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