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A Woman of No Importance

The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Auteur(s): Sonia Purnell
Narrateur(s): Juliet Stevenson
Durée: 13 h et 54 min
Catégories: Histoire, Europe
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 évaluations)

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Description

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Shortlisted for the Plutarch Award for Best Biography of 2019 

“Excellent.... This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” (The New York Times Book Review)

"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)

The never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her." 

The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and - despite her prosthetic leg - helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

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. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war. 

©2019 Sonia Purnell (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Ce que les critiques en disent

“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)

“Purnell’s writing is as precise and engaging as her research, and this book restores overdue attention to one of the world’s great war heroes. It’s a joy to read, and it will swell readers' hearts with pride.” (Booklist

“A groundbreaking biography that reads like a spy thriller...a suspenseful, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant tale of heroism and sacrifice.” (BookPage

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Moyenne des évaluations de clients

Au global

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Histoire

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    15
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    8
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Évaluations – Cliquez sur les onglets pour changer la source des évaluations.

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  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars

What a remarkable story!

Virginia Hall’s life story is in itself an amazing one, and this biography tells it beautifully. It reads in many ways more like a spy novel than a biography and brings scenes from the war to life with vivid imagery and quotes from later reports. I have been recommending it to anyone who acts half interested and bought it for my father who loves both spy novels and World War Two stories. The reader creates a great performance with distinct voices and a matter-of-fact style which allows the author’s words to convey the drama. Highly recommend.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ron
  • 2019-07-16

No issues with EXCELLENT narration!

Well written and researched. Enjoyable listen. WWII agents(whether OSS or SOE), behind enemy lines are my absolute favourite listens(Reads!). Juliet Stevenson does a fantastic job with this complex, at times material. Virginia Hall was courageous and resourceful, as well, as relentless in her drive to get the job done. Really captivating listening, as the Gestapo and Vichy Police were hard on her heels the entire time. I do agree with other reviewers that accents are usually hard to listen to and add very little to these great stories. eg. We all have seen newsreels of 'Winston' speaking and don't need a narrators interpretation. That being said, as a musician I listen carefully to the narrators voice before I decide. Juliet Stevenson gets a 10+ in my opinion for her reading here. Highly recommended. - Ron L.

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars

exceptional wartime story

exceptionally written and narrated - balancing detail and sensitivity with intrigue, chronicling this hero's wartime contibutions that were at times uselessly and solely stymied by gender issues.

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  • Au global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Andrea
  • 2019-09-18

Maybe it’s the narrator?

I was excited to read this book. I love the spy genre and was intrigued to hear about an important female spy. Seven hours left to go and I keep switching to my music or the radio while driving. I am not sure if it is the author’s lack of storytelling or the narrator’s voice and way of talking. I understand having a British narrator because the subject of the book worked for England’s SOE, however, the spy is American. When the narrator tries to speak in an American accent it sounds harsh and is a turn off. Maybe I will go back and finish some day.

24 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • CP in Seattle
  • 2019-05-21

An Excellent Read

This book gets my highest rating. Enthusiasts of WWII history will be dazzled by this non-fiction account of the French Resistance, and one woman in particular, who was an outright hero of the war. She was an involved leader and organizer of the resistance, and worked right under the noses of the Nazis in Vichy France for three years.

Thank you to the author for so clearly bringing this story to our attention. This was a nail biter, and this book is unforgettable.

Also enjoyable is The Nightingale, a similar French Resistance story, albeit fiction.

32 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Laura S. Carlson
  • 2020-02-10

Accent problems

I loved this book but ended up wishing I had read it in book form instead of listening. The narrator is British and I’m sure her French accent was fine. Her American accent was dreadful and grated every time. That, combined with the numerous French names, places and sayings pronounced with a British accent made it difficult to keep track of the members of the French resistance whom Virginia Hall worked with. Wonderful story, well written.

13 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helene
  • 2019-11-10

An inspiring story of courage and heart

Virginia Hall stands as an early model of overcoming character. Battling bias against women, a physical handicap and unsupported in the world she wished to inhabit, she nonetheless became a life-saving hero of WWII. Her story is well-retold by Sonia Purnell and very well read by Juliet Stevenson. Highly recommended.

8 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Seahawk
  • 2019-11-01

Where has this story been?

This is an excellent story of espionage by a well heeled woman of aristocratic background from the Baltimore area in the 1930s and 40s. It takes all kinds of people to help win a war. When America wouldn't use her, she went to the British who put her to work. She was tough, ruthless, and very effective. Well read and interesting.

8 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carla
  • 2019-06-10

Narration was distracting

This is a great story I wish I had read instead of listened to. I found the narrators American and French accents really grating (and not good) and ultimately distracting from this remarkable woman's story.

16 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • KathrynVB
  • 2019-04-22

Recommended for all women, young & old

I was not aware of Virginia Hall until I saw this book reviewed and decided to use my credit to purchase it. This is a fascinating account of an American woman who disappeared into occupied France as part of Britain's Special Operations Executive corps, where she became perhaps the most important spy ever recruited by that agency. This book should be read by every teenaged girl to show what a woman of her great-grandmother's generation was able to accomplish. I am sending this to my 16 year-old granddaughter.

30 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-12

an amazing story

I listen to books non stop, and this is one of the best I have found. An amazing story about an amazing woman. I am sorry she was not treated better after the war.

11 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jojo
  • 2020-01-13

Fantastic Story, Distracting Narration

Overall I really enjoyed this book, I appreciate the research that went in (even i there IS a bit too much speculation about what "Virginia must have felt" for my taste). Where I had real difficulty was with the narration. From the get-go I couldn't understand 1) Why a book about an American woman is narrated by someone with a British accent and 2) Why such a HEAVY, over-enunciating, Downton Abby style narration? It really didn't seem to fit the feel of the story - Virginia was anything but a prim and proper lady, so I don't understand.
Additionally, the put-on accents (especially the American accent that sounded a lot like when Raj on Big Bang Theory does his joke American Accent) were really distracting and pulled focus from the story.
The continuous forays into French, as well as the French pronunciations of the names made it very difficult to follow as one who speaks literally no French (yes, I understand that its correct, but for an American audience trying to make sense of an Audiobook with 100+ French names being said with a French accent... its highly confusing).

So basically, I loved the story, its told well, provides the right details, hits its most important points well. I would opt for reading rather than listening though, if I could do it over.

4 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • The Golden Bear
  • 2019-10-12

A compelling history of an American hero

This is an amazing and compelling story of a woman who should be known by all. Ms. Purnell not only details the life of Virginia Hall as a first class spy, and resistance fighter in WWII, but her struggle against misogyny both in the field and within the CIA.

This is an account that should be taught to high school students to help them appreciate the commanding role that women play in history, and the tenacity women possess.

Hall’s story is a remarkable one in overcoming societal pressures to marry and raise children, to commanding leadership in the battle field while concealing her prosthetic leg.

This narrative is not to be missed.

4 les gens ont trouvé cela utile