I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Code Name: Lise today. This is a fascinating account of one woman’s bravery during the Second World War, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her exploits.
The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.
Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.
It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.
They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.
This is portrait of true courage, patriotism and love amidst unimaginable horrors and degradation.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and if I do, it has to be on a subject that’s of interest to me. I was immediately intrigued by Code Name: Lise when asked if I’d like to review it as part of the blog tour. It tells the story of Odette Sansom and her role in the Second World War, and part of the fascination for me was that I’ve never heard of her, despite the fact that she was our most decorated spy (note the lack of a qualifier in that statement) from that conflict.
Code Name: Lise feels like a great introduction to this courageous woman’s tale. It very briefly touches upon her childhood and life prior to the war – growing up in France, the health problems she had as a child, getting married and moving to England – before describing her recruitment, training and early assignments. This isn’t a true biography, nor does it claim to be – it’s too light on her early years and life post-war for that – but it does give an account of her activities during the war and the betrayal by a fellow agent which saw her captured and incarcerated by the Germans.
Odette was clearly a brave and courageous individual. I liked that she was opinionated and obstinate, so much so that she almost failed her training. As soon as she arrived in France, she threw herself into her assignments, wanting to make a difference. This passion and the desire to liberate her homeland never let up, despite the near misses and the plans that went awry. Loftis does cover her imprisonment in Fresnes Prison and Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Throughout her incarceration, she never uttered a word that could have helped the enemy, despite her horrific treatment – isolation, meagre rations that barely enable survival, and torture. She was a bold and utterly selfless person, and I feel that her story should be better known.
Loftis tells the story of her activities in the war in an engaging manner that reads more like a thriller than it does a biographical account of one person’s activities. I think that readers who, like me, tend to prefer fiction over non-fiction will find this to be an accessible and engaging read about an utterly remarkable individual.
Code Name: Lise is published by Mirror Books, and is available in paperback now. Many thanks to the publisher and Melanie Sambells for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other wonderful bloggers taking part in the tour: