cover image Trapeze


Simon Mawer. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-59051-527-3

Mawer follows his Man Booker–shortlisted The Glass Room with another WWII novel based on the fascinating true story of Englishwomen whose French-language fluency led them to be deployed, via parachute, into France as agents of the resistance. The young Marian Sutro is one such woman, recruited to join the mission that gives Mawer his title, which sends her behind enemy lines in occupied France and connects her with loves both old and new. Though Marian’s naïveté and willful carelessness make her an improbable operative, her (somewhat convenient) ties to scientists researching the atomic bomb put her in a powerful and dangerous position. Slow to start (Marian’s drop into France comes well into the story), the novel picks up when she navigates the dangerous world of occupied Paris, constantly questioning who she can trust and who will betray her. While the history behind this story is captivating, Mawer’s take unfolds with inertia, is leaden with research that often feels unnecessary to the story, and is plagued with undeveloped characters, particularly his young heroine. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)