Audiobook Mini-Review: Code Name Helene

10 May

I am going though a biographical reading/listening phase — who knows how long it will last 😉 — but I am loving learning about very interesting women! A few of my friends and I are meeting to discuss them too. Yay!! The first book up was Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon. It is a must read for anyone who loves WWII fiction. There are a few caveats though. Check out my review below.

In 1936 Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène follows Nancy’s transformation from journalist into one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But with power comes notoriety, and no matter how careful Nancy is to protect her identity, the risk of exposure is great — for herself and for those she loves.

Ariel Lawhon is a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction. She is the author of The Wife, The Maid, And The Headmistress (2014), Flight of Dreams (2016), and I Was Anastasia (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, Indie Next, One Book One County, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, black Lab, and a deranged Siamese cat. She splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.

My Impressions:

I downloaded the audio version of Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon after finding out it was included in my Audible subscription. What did I have to lose — it was free after all. What I won was an excellent reading experience featuring a courageous woman who really existed. This book sucked me in from the get go as it detailed the exploits of Nancy Wake, a tough and determined woman who was invaluable to the French Resistance during WWII. This was a story that needed to be told! Nancy’s story — from international journalist prior to WWII through her work as a super-spy — is told in two storylines. I loved how Lawhon revealed key parts of the story in this way. It also helped to soften the hard experiences that are laid out. The historical details are well-researched and had me googling for more. Nancy’s character, as well as others, are well-drawn and made me feel like I really knew them. This book is a must-read for WWII fiction fans, but please be aware that it is filled with adult elements — language and situations. If it was a movie it would get an R rating, especially for violent images and language. If this doesn’t bother you, then I highly recommend it. A few of my friends gathered to discuss this book, and they all loved it too. The narration for the audiobook is excellent as well. The handling of the many accents was an achievement in its own right.

Highly Recommended. (caveats — adult language and situations, violence)

Audience: adults.

(I downloaded the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Audiobook Mini-Review: Code Name Helene”

  1. Carla May 10, 2021 at 9:09 pm #

    Great review Beckie. I have wanted to read this book for a long time and will have to see if I can find the audiobook.

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