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Apocryphally dubbed Churchill's favorite spy and possibly the inspiration for Ian Fleming's Vesper Lynd, Warsaw-born Christine Granville (1908-1952) was the "willfully independent" daughter of a charming but dissolute and caddish Polish aristocrat and a Jewish banking heiress. In England, following Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939, Granville, armed with "her gift for languages, her adroit social skills, formidable courage and lust for life," volunteered for the British Secret Intelligence Service and hatched a bold plan to ski into Poland from Hungary, via the Carpathian mountains, in order to deliver British propaganda to Warsaw and return with intelligence on the Nazi occupation. In other heroic feats, Granville parachuted into occupied France to join a Resistance sabotage network, bribed the Gestapo for the release of three of her comrades just two hours before their execution, and persuaded a Polish garrison conscripted into the Wehrmacht to switch allegiances. Getting short shrift from Britain after the war, Granville supported herself with odd jobs before becoming a stewardess on an ocean liner, where she met the man who would fall for her and become her murderer. Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) gives a remarkable, charismatic woman her due in this tantalizing biography. 16 pages of b&w photos & 2 maps. Agent: Andrew Lownie, the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency (U.K.). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Christine Granville (1908-52) was born Krystyna Skarbek in Poland, but the onset of World War II and the fate of her country led her to spy for Britain as the UK's first female secret agent. Sexually emancipated, fiercely loyal to both Britain and Poland, and braver than most men, she was a feminist before the term was widespread and an enigma to many throughout her life. Works about her are few: a secret agent naturally has much to hide, and Granville inspired such loyalty from her compatriots and lovers that little about her has ever been published. Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) has meticulously mined private archives, conducted personal interviews, and consulted previously published and unpublished sources in order to give the reader a balanced account of the woman behind the legend. VERDICT Mulley successfully sorts fact from fiction in this long-overdue and well-researched biography. Readers will love the romance and suspense the author evokes and will wonder why they didn't know about Granville before. Those who enjoy spy stories, such as the James Bond franchise (Ian Fleming was rumored to have based his first Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, on Granville's exploits) will delight in this arresting and ultimately tragic story.-Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.