The spy who loved The secrets and lives of Christine Granville

Clare Mulley

Book - 2013

Explores the life and career of one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents, whose gathered intelligence and courage provided a significant contribution to the Allied war effort in World War II.

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Subjects
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2013, ©2012
Edition
First U.S. edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xix, 426 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 398-411) and index.
ISBN
9781250030320
1250030323
Main Author
Clare Mulley (-)
  • Stories of trust and betrayal
  • Borderlands
  • Two weddings and a war
  • Hungarian embraces
  • Polish resistance
  • A string of arrests
  • Travels in an opel
  • Cold in Cairo
  • The beautiful spy
  • Our woman in Algiers
  • A French occupation
  • The battle of Vercors
  • Switching allegiances
  • Operation liberté
  • Mission impossible
  • Second-class citizen
  • Deep water
  • Brutal end
  • The afterlife of Christine Granville.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Christine Granville (1908–52) was born Krystyna Skarbek in Poland, but the onset of World War II and the fate of her country led her to spy for Britain as the UK's first female secret agent. Sexually emancipated, fiercely loyal to both Britain and Poland, and braver than most men, she was a feminist before the term was widespread and an enigma to many throughout her life. Works about her are few: a secret agent naturally has much to hide, and Granville inspired such loyalty from her compatriots and lovers that little about her has ever been published. Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) has meticulously mined private archives, conducted personal interviews, and consulted previously published and unpublished sources in order to give the reader a balanced account of the woman behind the legend. VERDICT Mulley successfully sorts fact from fiction in this long-overdue and well-researched biography. Readers will love the romance and suspense the author evokes and will wonder why they didn't know about Granville before. Those who enjoy spy stories, such as the James Bond franchise (Ian Fleming was rumored to have based his first Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, on Granville's exploits) will delight in this arresting and ultimately tragic story.—Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL [Page 98]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Apocryphally dubbed Churchill's favorite spy and possibly the inspiration for Ian Fleming's Vesper Lynd, Warsaw-born Christine Granville (1908–1952) was the "willfully independent" daughter of a charming but dissolute and caddish Polish aristocrat and a Jewish banking heiress. In England, following Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939, Granville, armed with "her gift for languages, her adroit social skills, formidable courage and lust for life," volunteered for the British Secret Intelligence Service and hatched a bold plan to ski into Poland from Hungary, via the Carpathian mountains, in order to deliver British propaganda to Warsaw and return with intelligence on the Nazi occupation. In other heroic feats, Granville parachuted into occupied France to join a Resistance sabotage network, bribed the Gestapo for the release of three of her comrades just two hours before their execution, and persuaded a Polish garrison conscripted into the Wehrmacht to switch allegiances. Getting short shrift from Britain after the war, Granville supported herself with odd jobs before becoming a stewardess on an ocean liner, where she met the man who would fall for her and become her murderer. Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) gives a remarkable, charismatic woman her due in this tantalizing biography. 16 pages of b&w photos & 2 maps. Agent: Andrew Lownie, the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency (U.K.). (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Documents the story of the first British female special agent in World War II, discussing her mixed heritage, daring missions in numerous countries, significant intelligence contributions, and subsequent murder by an obsessed colleague.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Documents the story of a first British female agent in World War II, providing coverage of her mixed heritage, daring missions in numerous countries, significant intelligence contributions and subsequent murder by an obsessive colleague. By the award-winning author of The Woman Who Saved the Children."

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Untold Story of Britain's First Female Special Agent of World War IIIn June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in the South Kensington district of London. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising; that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable.The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, Granville would become one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services and took on mission after mission. She skied over the hazardous High Tatras into occupied Poland, served in Egypt and North Africa, and was later parachuted behind enemy lines into France, where an agent's life expectancy was only six weeks. Her courage, quick wit, and determination won her release from arrest more than once, and saved the lives of several fellow officers—including one of her many lovers—just hours before their execution by the Gestapo. More importantly, the intelligence she gathered in her espionage was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort, and she was awarded the George Medal, the OBE, and the Croix de Guerre.Granville exercised a mesmeric power on those who knew her. In The Spy Who Loved, acclaimed biographer Clare Mulley tells the extraordinary history of this charismatic, difficult, fearless, and altogether extraordinary woman.