Sunday, 5 April 2020

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon BLOG TOUR @ArielLawhon @headlinepg @RosieMargesson #CodeNameHelene #RandomThingsTours

In 1936, foreign correspondent, Nancy Wake, witnesses first-hand the terror of Hitler's rise in Europe. No sooner has Nancy met, fallen in love with and agreed to marry French industrialist Henri Fiocca, than the Germans invade France and force her to take on her first code name of many. The Gestapo call her the White Mouse for her remarkable ability to evade capture when smuggling Allied soldiers across borders. She becomes Hélène when she leaves France to train in espionage with an elite special forces group in London. Then, when she returns to France, she is the deadly Madame Andrée. But the closer Frances gets to liberation, the more exposed Nancy - and the people she loves - will become.
Inspired by true wartime events, Code Name Hélène is a gripping and moving story of extraordinary courage, unfaltering resolve, remarkable sacrifice - and enduring love.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon was published on 31 March 2020 by Headline Review. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake
The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.

February 29, 1944
I have gone by many names.Some of them are real—I was given four at birth alone—but most
are carefully constructed personas to get me through checkpoints and across borders. They are lies scribbled on forged travel docu- ments. Typed neatly in government files. Splashed across wanted posters. My identity is an ever-shifting thing that adapts to the need at hand.
Tonight, I am Hélène and I am going home.
It is February 29. Leap Day. The irony of this is not lost on me, because I am about to jump out of an aeroplane for the first time. I’ve only just been lifted into the belly of the Liberator bomber like a clumsily wrapped package. Me in slacks, blouse, and silk stockings beneath my coveralls, tin hat, and British army boots. The camel- haired coat and parachute pack don’t do much to help the ensemble. But this isn’t a fashion show and I’m not here to make friends, so I don’t care that every man on this plane is looking at me as though I don’t belong. Besides, I’m hungover. And I think I might throw up.
There are only four of us on this flight: an RAF pilot, a dispatcher, “Hubert”—my partner on this mission—and myself. A motley crew indeed. I settle into the jump seat across from Hubert and we watch with trepidation as the aperture in the floor closes. There’s a grind- ing of gears and the clank of metal and then we’re locked inside. I very much regret that third bottle of wine I shared with the boys last night. Headquarters delayed the mission by an entire day so we would have extra time to memorize key details of our cover story, which meant that, for the second night in a row, we raucously cel- ebrated our looming departure and likely death. By the end of it we were singing “Blood on the Risers” at the top of our lungs, and now I can’t get the stupid song out of my head.
“Gory, gory what a helluva way to die . . . ,” I hum, only to find the pilot staring at me with a bemused grin. I shrug. It’s the truth. This would be a helluva way to die. Too late now, though, because all four engines shudder to life with an angry bellow.
I begin counting as the plane rumbles across the aerodrome. Ten. Twenty. Thirty—good grief, when will this thing ever get off the ground?—forty. And then my stomach drops as we lurch into the air like a drunken seabird. The Liberator heaves and rumbles its way into the low-hanging clouds over the English countryside, sounding all the while as though someone has tossed a pound of bolts into a meat grinder.
Once we’re through the clouds and the engines dim to a lesser roar, the dispatcher looks at me and shouts, “Witch?”
Under normal circumstances I would be offended, but Witch is my code name for this flight. I nod in the affirmative.
He turns back to his control panel and radios Command. “Witch on board”—a pause and then a glance at Hubert—“Pudding as well. Approximately two hours until the drop.”
Poor guy, it’s not his fault. He’s not been given our real code names, much less our actual names. Need to know, etcetera, etcetera. I make a face at Hubert and he grins. We’d argued over which of us had the worse handle. Mine is sexist but his is stupid, so in the end we declared it a draw.
“At least the plane is heated,” I say, but Hubert has settled into his jump seat, closed his eyes, and is trying to sleep. If he hears me he doesn’t let on. Hubert is not what you’d call a conversationalist.
A thrilling and heart-wrenching novel inspired by the astonishing real life story of Nancy Wake. Perfect for fans of Suzanne Goldring's MY NAME IS EVA, Kate Quinn's THE ALICE NETWORK and Imogen Kealey's LIBERATION, soon to be a blockbuster movie.
'Lawhon breathes new life into Nancy Wake's extraordinary story. Rich and thoroughly researched, an exciting, well-written account of wartime valour and the protagonist's qualities shine through' The Times
'This is the next book I won't be able to stop talking, so good!5 stars (Goodreads reviewer)
'A gripping thriller based on the life of Nancy Wake... Lawhon's vivid, fast-paced narrative will keep readers turning the pages' Publishers Weekly 

Ariel Lawhon, author of I Was Anastasia (2018), Flight of Dreams (2016) and The Wife, The Maid And The Mistress (2014), is a critically acclaimed writer of historical fiction. 

She lives with her family in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee.
Twitter @ArielLawhon
Author Page on Facebook

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