Simon Mawer’s new novel, about a female secret agent, is billed as a good old-fashioned adventure story, albeit one which is subtly subverted by the presence of a female heroine in a masculine world. Like his weighty Man Booker-shortlisted The Glass Room, this novel is set during the Second World War, but otherwise Mawer has written a book that is its predecessor’s opposite – The Glass Room is a European novel of ideas; The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is a stab at a British action story.
Mawer tells the story of Marian Sutro, one of the heroic female Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents who were parachuted into occupied France to aid the Resistance. Marian is a composite of legendary agents such as Violette Szabo and Nancy Wake. Szabo was tortured by the Gestapo and died in