Review of The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck
Robuck shaped the real-life figure of Virginia Hall into a courageous, idealistic, determined, and imperfect heroine I was intrigued by.
“Because it will get worse before it gets better,” says Mimi. “If it gets better. And then, even if it ends, think of all the people emerging from the rubble. Think of the women and children. All the empty places at dinner tables. The resentment between those who collaborated and those who resisted. The remorse for the things we’ve done that we thought were justified by the ends. We will all be called to account.”
The Invisible Woman is historical fiction about the real-life World War II-era spy Virginia Hall. Erika Robuck makes Hall appealingly realistic, with faults, desires, idealism, and an astounding baseline level of bravery that leads to realistically messy, sometimes tragic situations--and occasionally glorious victories.
Hall, an American working for the UK, was a trainer of the French Resistance despite the physical limitations caused by her prosthetic leg (which she gained following a shooting accident). She's entrenched in enemy territory sending coded messages and drumming up supporters for the cause for longer than most agents manage to survive, so she has a persistent feeling of being on borrowed time. Her desire for vengeance against a man who has betrayed the cause has motivated her to continue slogging through difficult, dangerous, exhausting situations and never sleeping, resting, or eating enough. She's beginning to wonder if good can possibly overcome evil in this interminable war, but her ragtag group of brave civilian resistors is the inspiration she needs to keep going.
Robuck has shaped Hall into a courageous, idealistic, determined, and imperfect heroine I was intrigued by. I really enjoyed Robuck's writing style, the details of the time, the pacing of the book's events, and the rich cast of secondary characters she brought to life.
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If you like reading about female spies, you might like some of the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Books about Brave Female Spies.