TOMORROW TO BE BRAVE: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion
Englishwoman Susan Travers, aka "La Miss," now 91, was the only woman ever to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion. Travers's story begins with her lonely girlhood, spent wishing she were a boy and yearning for her military father's approval. In her late teens and 20s—during Europe's decadent '20s—Travers rebelled, hitting every baccarat table and aristocrat's bed she could find. When war broke out in 1939, she was ready to live out her girlhood fantasies of exotic travel and heroic service. Joining de Gaulle's Free French, she endured the mandatory nursing training and in North Africa found the work she wanted, as a front-line driver. Eventually, she became Gen. Pierre Koenig's personal driver and secret lover. She emerged a decorated hero of the bloody Bir Hakeim campaign in Libya, often referred to as the Verdun of WWII. Her (married) general's career also advanced—too far for their affair to continue. In her despair, Travers joined up and became a true Legionnaire, escaping her unhappiness by immersing herself in the world of warfare. Still, "je ne regrette rien" is the message here, which may be why this prefeminist figure sounds so inspiring to modern ears. (June)
Forecast: With enough review attention and the right endorsements, this action-packed romance could find its way onto many women's shelves. Its historical interest should attract students, and the saga of a woman fighting to live on her own terms could draw reading- group interest.