Review published on March 16, 2017.
The English Agent is a well-written, enjoyable novel about a subject that doesn’t always get as much coverage as it should: the women’s effort during the war, particularly female agents who risked their lives to help the French Resistance against the Nazis.
The story unfolds from two perspectives: agent Edie (codename Yvette), who is fresh out of training on her first mission abroad in Nazi-occupied France, and Vera, who trains and looks after the agents. This way you see snippets of info about the war from both France and London. You really get a feel for what life must be like for both women and the danger that Edie in particular faces.
The story is fast paced and kept me enthralled. I love novels set during WW1 or WW2, so hoped I’d really enjoy this – and I definitely did!
The English Agent felt like a well-researched story and two of the characters were apparently based on real people. There were parts that were probably over-dramatised for the purpose of the story, but none of it felt completely unbelievable, which was good. I liked that the characters weren’t completely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on whether they were Allies or not. Most of the characters had their own faults or made errors in judgement, despite being generally good people, whilst people you’d assume would be bad through and through weren’t necessarily presented in such an obvious way. There are some really inspirational women in this novel who I loved reading about, and I found it fascinating to read about people involved in the war that we don’t often hear much about.
There is quite a lot of the story that jumps around and sometimes I got a little confused as to whether we were in the present day or ‘remembering’ past events. Bits of the characters’ memories are sort of ‘teased’ out throughout the novel, which I really enjoyed reading and added extra tension to the story.
Clare Harvey’s other novel, The Gunner Girl, also features Edie and I’d like to read more about her (though I suppose that would be a sort of prequel to The English Agent) – still, I’ll definitely be adding it to my reading list!
The English Agent is definitely a truly entertaining, well-written and enjoyable read that I’d really recommend.
Laura Nazmdeh 4/4
The English Agent by Clare Harvey
Simon & Schuster 9781471150579 pbk Feb 2017
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