“She gambled again and again with her own life, not out of a fervent nationalism for her own country, but out of love and respect for the freedoms of another.”Sonia Purnell, A Woman of No Importance
Title: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Author: Sonia Purnell
Genres: Non-fiction, Biography, History, World War II
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Published: March 28th, 2019
My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 12/6/2022 – 12/8/2022
Being a woman in the early 20th century was no picnic, especially when it came to getting a job. Add a disability to the mix and getting someone to hire you was near impossible. Virginia Hall broke down barriers and excelled over her able-bodied male counterparts. At the start of World War II, Virginia was hired as a spy and was deployed to France. As the war carried on, Virginia (under a number of aliases) became a touchstone for people under occupation and fellow resistance workers.
The more her reputation grew, the more the Nazis wanted her captured. Despite several warnings and close calls, Virginia was reluctant to leave her post in France where so many people had come to rely on her. When staying was no longer an option, she continued to prove her strength both mentally and physically — achieving things that most people without a prosthetic leg couldn’t. She continued to do what she could for the war effort no matter where she had to go.
There seems to be no end to the fascinating figures of WWII. Virginia Hall is now among my favorites. The book flowed wonderfully. Nothing dragged and there was always something interesting going on. I appreciated that it went in a linear timeline. I’ve noticed a lot of non-fiction books like to jump around even if it’s following a chain of events. A must-read for WWII buffs.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The linear timeline.
- We get some backstory about Virginia, but not so much that it eats up a large portion of the book. The same can be said about her retirement. The major focus was her time in Europe and it remained the central discussion.
- The author’s dedicated research.
What I didn’t like:
- I had some trouble keeping some of the names straight. Portions of the book were more fast-paced than others so I ended up mixing up some of the people involved.
I can’t say that I have any quips about this book. The author’s note at the beginning warned that there would be some gaps given a lack of evidence or destroyed files. While there are definitely vague moments, I didn’t get a sense of incompletion.