I sat in the farmhouse in front of the open fire and read Vivienne Fernandez’s file.
Aged 24, she resided in London where, before the SOE recruited her, she was a switchboard operator. Multilingual, she enjoyed gymnastics – like Mimi – cycling, ice-skating and dressmaking. Her assessors also noted that she loved to party.
I’d met her from the plane and noted her elegance and grace. She was stylish, beautiful – the complete package. Jealousy should have raised its ugly head. Instead, I smiled at that recent memory; I liked her.
Vivienne’s French husband had died fighting for the Free French in Senegal. She’d left a two-year-old daughter at home, with childminders. Father and daughter had never met. That was sad, and all too familiar.
Vivienne’s mother was English, her father French. They’d lived on the French-Spanish border and, when the Nazis invaded, escaped over the Pyrenees. It was a route I knew well.
I tore Vivienne’s file into strips and placed it on the fire. Within seconds, it turned to ash, consumed by the orange and yellow flames.
I wondered what Guy would make of Vivienne. I would discover his thoughts soon enough, when he returned from the coast. I wondered how she would fit into our team. As a short-term replacement for Mimi, I didn’t foresee any problems.
In retrospect, I would regard that assessment as a huge mistake.
Eve and Guy have noticed Mimi’s decline, while she’s still the fastest wireless operator out there, she has lost her spark. They arrange for her to return to England for a break, and a new operator – Vivienne – is brought in. Mimi is not at all happy; she feels she’s being sent away because she knows how close Eve and Guy have become, and that she’s in the way. Eve admits her feelings for Guy, but assures Mimi that the break is only temporary.
Meanwhile, Eve’s German Officer admirer, Raab, wants her to spy for him. Despite Guy’s reluctance, Eve is determined to do so, although she plans on giving him out-of-date info, and just enough detail to keep him distracted from his amorous overtures to her, and to the real matters of business that they’re pursuing.
Vivienne is soon put to work, but her love for fashion worries Eve, who feels the new operator – a mother of a two-year-old – will stand out too much. Nonetheless, the business of sending and receiving messages continues until one night the power fails. It’s a tactic used by the Nazis to track down wireless signals. They have to flee.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets away and, together with Jean-Claude’s men, the SOE agents have to rescue one of their own. Clashes with the Gestapo lead to losses on all sides, and even Eve’s ardent admirer, Raab, is caught in the crossfire. Revenge is inevitable, the Resistance will not accept anything else.
Looking forward to the next in the series – roll on July! Now I’ve read all those published to date, I’m sort of wishing I’d waited till the whole series was available to binge read … but I’m not that patient!
I said in a previous post that I had a plan about how to fill the gap between now and July (for book 7) and the three month wait for each subsequent book. It’s not as if my TBR list is lacking, but having studied this author’s extensive back catalogue, I think I’ll be checking out The Olive Tree series next. As a former student of Spanish political history, I’m looking forward to this one. Hannah Howe, right now, is hitting all the buttons on my “want to read” list 😉
About the Author
Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.
Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.