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Trapeze Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 1590515285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515280
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. Educated at Millfield School in Somerset and at Brasenose College, Oxford, he took a degree in biology and worked as a biology teacher for many years. His first novel, Chimera, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1989, winning the McKitterick Prize for first novels. Mendel's Dwarf (1997), his first book to be publish in the US, reached the last ten of the Booker Prize and was a New York Time "Book to Remember" for 1998. The Gospel of Judas, The Fall (winner of the 2003 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature) and Swimming to Ithaca followed. In 2009 The Glass Room, his tenth book and eighth novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Mawer is married and has two children. He has lived in Italy for the past thirty years.

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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Plenty of novelists have tackled the irresistibly suspenseful material that World War II espionage offers, and many of them have honed in on the activities of the women of the French section of the SOE, the ultra-secret group assigned by Churchill to "set Europe ablaze". Off the top of my head, I can bring to mind novels by Evelyn Anthony, Ted Allebury, Elizabeth Buchan, Larry Collins -- and those are just books I read back in the 1980s. And yet, despite the fact that real-life chronicles and novels have been based on these tales since the end of the war in 1945, Simon Mawer shows that there's room for more.

What he brings to to the familiar territory of the SOE's operations in France is a great narrative style and tremendous ability in bringing to life characters whose objectives and convictions aren't always clear even to themselves, and who experience fear and terror rather than posturing bravely in the manner of a golden era movie hero or heroine. Marian Sutro, recruited because of her ability to speak French like a native and dispatched to work with an SOE circuit in the southwest of France, is often terrified and battles nightmares about falling through the air -- just as she did in real life when she arrived via parachute. When she is dispatched to Paris on a special assignment for a rival espionage organization, fear turns to terror, all the more acute because the physical landscape of Paris so familiar to her and yet simultaneously nightmarishly different. Mawer's descriptions were so vivid that I found my own breathing becoming more rapid and my palms damp as Marian negotiates her way through the Parisian streets, at first haunted by a sense of unease and later trying to dodge pursuit.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on May 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. "Trapeze" centers around a young English woman, Marian Sutro, who's recruited to be a spy embedded in France. Marian is the daughter of an English diplomat and a French woman. She grows up in Switzerland where her father is stationed. She's the adored younger sister of a brilliant scientist brother. She's also adored by and adoring of her brother's fellow scientist Clement. Mawer quickly catches the romance of the times as well as the danger and horror. Marian goes on a crash course as one of only two women who are learning skills that will keep them alive in France and that will enable them to help the French continue their resistance. She learns that a momentary loss of awareness could cost her her life as well as the lives of the people she's trying to help. She lives in fear. Mawer is skilled at setting impactful scenes with few words. Marian's thoughts and predicament seem very real and Mawer's attention to details is exquisite. You'll feel like you're walking the dangerous war time Paris streets right next to Marian.

This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publishers.
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Interestingly Mawer briefly ties in Leo Marks' work as presented in Marks' fascinating nonfiction work "Between Silk and Cyanide: a Code Makers War"*. Marks' book is understandable to the layman and tremendously humorous while still being, literally, deadly serious.

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Mawer has always been able to tell a good story. His plots flow well, his descriptions are evocative, and his characters are engaging. But he is best when he has something else to add, as in MENDEL'S DWARF, which jumps to and fro between two different centuries, or THE GLASS ROOM, which takes place in a single house but over a century's span. His latest, TRAPEZE, is another story well told, but it treads familiar ground and has very little new to add.

The setting is WW2. The heroine, Marian Sutro (though she goes by many different names in the course of the novel), is young, beautiful, and bilingual, born of an English father and a French mother. Although barely out of school, she gets recruited by British Intelligence for training as a spy, and is parachuted into the southwest of France to help organize the resistance in that region, with the additional mission of contacting a French nuclear physicist in Paris to persuade him to come to Britain. The hook is that the scientist, Clément Pelletier, is an old childhood friend to whom she had a strong emotional attachment. For more even than being a spy story, TRAPEZE is a romance, as Marian must weigh her lingering crush on Clément against her first physical experience with a fellow agent in the south.

Why did Mawer, who is usually a much more sophisticated author, chose this subject? I seem to have been reading such books almost since WW2 ended; the most recent is
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