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  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    An excellent French resistance novel

    I received a free electronic ARC of this historical novel from Suzy Henderson on February 27, 2020. Thank you for sharing your hard work with me! I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I have joyfully added Suzy Henderson to my favorite, must-read list. She writes with heart and clarity. Nancy Wake was an actual person, her life and contributions to the war effort well researched and honestly folded into this historical novel based on fact. Nancy never met a stranger, a trait that served her well all of her life, but especially during her war years. 'Madame Fiocca' is WWII in Paris and Marseille, and we work around Southern France with Nancy and a branch of the French Resistance during the later years of the war. Suzy Henderson brings to life France under German rule and that of the resistance fighters over the course of the war. We meet many of them, both good and not, and live with the deprivations and joys of a life in hiding. We actually meet Australian teenager Nancy Grace Augusta Wake in the early 1930s. Nancy ran away from home in Sidney when she was 16 and with some nursing training was able to be self-sufficient. In February 1933, she would work her way to New York and journalism school on 200 pounds gifted 'out of the blue' from her Mother's rebellious older sister, Hinemoa. With a job with New York's Hearst Newspaper Group, corresponding from Paris, Nancy takes a ship to England and then Paris where she settles in, working with a team of worldwide reporters in France to cover the war in Spain, so was in place to cover the German takeover of Europe as it happened. On a brief long weekend away with coworkers in August 1936 at the holiday resort at Juan Les Pines, Nancy meets wealthy industrialist Henri Fiocca, the man who will become the love of her life. In the spring of 1939, they marry. With marriage, she moved to Marseille, settled in, acquired a dog, and immediately put her self back to work with British intelligence and the French Resistance. She returned briefly to London for training sessions several times, and though Henri worried about her safety, he tolerated her work with the underground. With the German invasion of Paris and then Marseille in January 1943, their lives will have to change again. Nancy is an Australian (British) citizen and thus not protected with French citizenship, making retreat difficult as she must avoid both German and Milice (Vichy French/German Paramilitary group) roadblocks and troops. Henri must stay in Marseille to try to save the family business. He promises he will follow her as soon as possible. Through months of silent separation, Nancy returns to southern France and coordinates the Southern Resistance troops with British intelligence and through these efforts tops Germany's most wanted list. Nancy's only hope is for peace - and word from Henri.
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    Historical Fiction WW II

    February 1933, when Nancy Wake is sent a cheque by her Aunt Hinemona, she decided to grab the opportunity, leave Australia and move to New York. Nancy was born in New Zealand, her family moved to Australia when she was a toddler, she was the youngest child, she had two older brothers and three older sisters. One day Nancy's dad left for work, he never returned and this made her mother a very bitter and angry woman. Being the youngest, Nancy was the main target of her mothers anger, frustration and she's was mean. Nancy left home at 16, she decided to make her own way in life and her mum told her she would never amount to anything. Nancy decided to see more of the world, she moves to London and studies journalism. Nancy is friendly, social, enjoys a drink and people like to talk to her. The perfect qualities for a journalist, she starts traveling to Europe on assignments and she meets an older man called Henri Fiocca. He's an industrialist, rich, charming and always seems to have a different beautiful woman hanging off his arm every time Nancy sees him! Nancy isn't keen to be another of Henri's conquests, but Henri is persistent and soon the sparks are flying between them. Their relationship eventually becomes serious, just as Hitler starts to come to power and Nancy witnesses what the Nazi's do and she's horrified. Nancy and Henri marry, she, Henri and her dog Picon move into their beautiful apartment in Marseille. Nancy soon becomes bored, she starts helping the cause, dropping off notes, catching trains and visiting people. She sees it all as pretty harmless, Henri warns her to be careful, then war starts and Henri is sent his call up papers. Nancy is determined to help the war effort, she joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver and she is horrified by what she witnesses. This war is ruthless, women, children and old people are traveling on the French roads trying to get to a safe place are all easy targets. The German planes fly over spraying them with bullets, this makes Nancy sick to the stomach, she hates Hitler and the Nazi's with a burning passion. A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network and Henri’s is very worried about his wife's safety. Nancy armed with her beauty, style, charm, handbag and red lippie, convinces Henri that the Germans will never suspect her? But, soon she finds herself caught up in a ruthless game of espionage, it's dangerous, she can be betrayed at anytime, she's forced to flee France when she starts to be followed and leaving Henri behind. Nancy spends five months doing intense training to become a secret agent, soon she's on a plane called the Liberator and being dropped by a silk parachute into France. Nancy becomes a freedom fighter, she joins the French resistance, here they form units, train in using all kinds of weapons, the plan is to drive the Germans army crazy, create a diversion, take out as many soldiers as they can and cause mayhem. Nancy Wake ends up being one of the most wanted women in history, the German army had a million Franc's as a reward for her capture during WW II and her story is real one. Nancy Wake is a true heroine, she had many titles, her husband Henri called her Nannie, she had various code names and one being Madame Andree. The German's called her the White Mouse, she outwitted them, they underestimated her, she was ruthless, cunning, strong, brave, she wanted France to be free from the German armies control and be reunited with her beloved Henri? I really enjoyed reading Madame Fiocca, if you like reading historical WW II fiction I highly recommend this book, all opinions expressed in this review are my own and I gave it five big stars.

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