Hello, my festive little Sunshines, I am super excited to be sharing my review of the incredible; The Secret Agent by Elisabeth Hobbes. This is Elisabeth’s first WW2 historical fiction, and she has completely smashed it, I can’t wait to share this book with you all. Firstly, I want to say thank you to Elisabeth for the advanced reader copy, and apologies for how late this review is. Now, let’s have a look at this book.
About the Book
The Secret Agent by Elisabeth Hobbes
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: One More Chapter
My name is Sylvie Duchene and I am a dancer. There is no network. I am just a dancer. I know nothing. Please…I swear it…
An unknown location, occupied France, 1944
Dropping silently behind enemy lines, Sylvia Crichton, codename Monique, is determined to fight for the country of her birth and save it from its Nazi stranglehold.
As one of the dancers at the nightclub Mirabelle, Sylvie’s mission is to entertain the club’s German clientele and learn their secrets. In a world of deception and lies, she can trust no one. Not even Mirabelle’s enigmatic piano player Felix… a part of the resistance or a collaborator?
But despite her SOE training, nothing can prepare Sylvie for the horrors she is about to face – or the pain of losing those she grows closer to undercover…
This is a pageturning and gripping romance set in occupied France during WW2 for fans of Pam Jenoff !
Well, well, well…I am blown away by this book, I have always known that Elizabeth Hobbes is a damn fine author, but this one is outstanding, I honestly don’t have the appropriate words for just how haunting this book is, it’s breath-taking!
There is so much to love about this book, that’s before you even open the first page….
Firstly, it’s written by one of the finest authors of the time and who happens to be one of my favourite’s.
Secondly, that cover…well, that beauty speaks for its self. I love it, I love the striking simplicity of the woman wearing the red coat on a dark and gloomy background, it’s a powerful image that grasps your full attention. It sort of reminds me of certain scenes in one of my favourite films; Schindlers List (for those who have seen it, will know what I mean).
Thirdly, even if I hadn’t seen the cover, or know the writer you had me by the back blurb. I love anything to do with resistance and the SOE agent’s, those incredibly brave men and women risking their lives in occupied France. Again this book reminds me of one of my favourite TV series’ Wish me luck, which is an oldie but easily one of the best, so if if you’ve seen it then you’ll love this book.
Plus the last line of the blurb ‘fans of Pam Jenoff‘ who just happens to be one of my whole time favourite WW2 fiction authors, and who has just been replaced at the top with this hugely talented lady.
Set in Nantes, France which is so beautifully captured, I’ve never been there but Elisabeth’s picture-perfect, evocative descriptions and stunning attention to detail had me transported from my little Yorkshire armchair to be standing side by side with Sylvie as she manoeuvred her way threw occupied France. It’s as clear as a bell that Elisabeth Hobbes knows this part of France and she has done an inordinate amount of research not just into the overall area, but into the history of the SOE and the Resistance.
The story follows Sylvie Duchene as she returns to her native France as a British SOE agent, she grew up within a dance troupe as her French mother was an accomplished dancer. They moved with the tour and as she grew she became an adept dancer in her own right, but on the death of her beloved mother Sylvie was sent to join her English father, a man she had never met and had to learn to be ‘proper’, deep down she resented it and this new life she wanted to go back to home and then the opportunity arises.
She joins the, now famous SOE a select group people who are sent to France undercover to help the French Resistance and the allies, with her history and her ability to speak French Sylvie is the perfect person to take on the role as a dancer in the Mirabelle club, right in the centre of German-occupied France. Her duty is to gain the trust and acceptance of the Germans to wheedle out as much information as possible to pass onto her superiors through her network, she must keep her wits about her as she is in the centre of the spider’s web and there are enemies everywhere; German and French, for it’s the collaborators she must watch out for most, what she doesn’t plan on is falling in love with charismatic, charming, handsome; pianist Felix.
Can she trust this enigmatic man who sends thrills through her veins, a man who could be her link to the resistance? Or is he one of the very people she has been warned about, a collaborator?
I really liked Sylvie, I liked her loyalty and patriotism to her native land. She is a tough cookie when needed to be incredibly brave, but there is a naivety, almost little girl innocence about her that makes you warm to her. It’s so sweet when she blushes every time Felix looks her way, I like how Felix’s cheeky smiles and dancing eyes make her come to life.
This is a fast-paced, exciting, inspiring and compelling story, I loved that there is romance entwined so intricately with the darker more perilous story which is all about good overcoming bad, fighting for survival and at the forefront of the entire story is the courage and bravery that a select group of people showed in the face of such adversity.
The Secret Agent is a timeless, emotional, poignant, heartbreaking and mesmerising story of fighting for what is good while trying to hold on to love. I have been swept away on a vivid and atmospheric journey, one that buried itself deep into my heart, this is easily Elisabeth Hobbes’ best writing to date, she has excelled herself and I do hope there will be more books like this in the future.