A Woman of No Importance

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What to expect

‘A METICULOUS HISTORY THAT READS LIKE A THRILLER’ BEN MACINTYRE, TEN BEST BOOKS TO READ ABOUT WORLD WAR II

An astounding story of heroism, spycraft, resistance and personal triumph over shocking adversity.

‘A rousing tale of derring-do’ THE TIMES * ‘Riveting’ MICK HERRON * ‘Superb’ IRISH TIMES

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In September 1941, a young American woman strides up the steps of a hotel in Lyon, Vichy France. Her papers say she is a journalist. Her wooden leg is disguised by a determined gait and a distracting beauty. She is there to spark the resistance.

By 1942 Virginia Hall was the Gestapo’s most urgent target, having infiltrated Vichy command, trained civilians in guerrilla warfare and sprung soldiers from Nazi prison camps. The first woman to go undercover for British SOE, her intelligence changed the course of the war – but her fight was still not over.

This is a spy history like no other, telling the story of the hunting accident that disabled her, the discrimination she fought and the secret life that helped her triumph over shocking adversity.

‘A cracking story about an extraordinarily brave woman’ TELEGRAPH

‘Gripping … superb … a rounded portrait of a complicated, resourceful, determined and above all brave woman’ IRISH TIMES

WINNER of the PLUTARCH AWARD FOR BEST BIOGRAPHY

Critics Review

  • 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’

    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

    Sunday Mirror
  • A cracking story of an extraordinarily brave woman . . . extraordinarily well-researched . . . thrilling

    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

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