The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 May, 2012, 12:00am


The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
by Simon Mawer
Little, Brown

Simon Mawer was shortlisted for 2009's Man Booker Prize with his elegant novel, The Glass Room. His follow-up, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, is also set in Europe, this time in France, not Czechoslovakia. Our heroine is Marian Sutro. Born to a French mother and an English father, she is the perfect candidate for one of the more dangerous jobs during the second world war: the French government trained 50 young women to be double agents in occupied Europe; many were killed by the SS in the course of their covert missions. Most had to become expert parachutists. So it is with Marian, who we first glimpse 'plunging from the rough comfort of the fuselage into the raging darkness over France'. An odd mixture of emotional froideur and naivete, Marian makes a fine spy - whether she is learning to leap from a plane, kill an enemy agent or even survive torture. Mawer weaves a second thread into this exciting, and often nerve-jangling main tapestry: Marian's doomed love affair with a nuclear physicist, Clement Pelletier. Mawer is on fine form, mixing sexual and global politics with ease. A possible contender for Man Booker glory? You betcha.