Nigel Jones

The Odd Couple

Claude and Madeleine: A True Story of Love, War and Espionage

By

Picador 322pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Sixty years after the Second World War ended, the global cataclysm is still throwing up extraordinary stories of human courage, tragedy, and – as in this book – sheer weirdness.

Edward Marriott has reconstructed, insofar as the incomplete sources allow, a remarkable tale from the shady borderlands of espionage and secret warfare, where bluster, exaggeration and downright lies meet. What emerges is a colourful fresco with large areas missing. Sometimes Marriott admits the lacunae in his narrative. Then he attempts to paper over the gaps with the broad brushstrokes of the imaginative novelist – in fairness, probably the only way that this odyssey could have been smoothed into the coherent and gripping voyage through an amazing life that he presents.

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