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February 12, 2021

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

Wow! The Invisible Woman was such a great book. If you loved Ariel Lawhon's Code Name Helene, then you must get this book.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Invisible Woman
February 2021; Berkley; 978-0593102145
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); biographical
The Invisible Woman
 is my first book by Erika Robuck so I wasn't sure what to expect To tell you I was blown away is an understatement. I loved this book. Like Code Name Helene, Robuck's story is based on a real female OSS operative. I've read a LOT of WWII stories and never knew about such women. I'm so happy that their stories are finally being told.

I'm in awe of these women. While things were starting to change for women by the 1940s, they were still mostly viewed as being wives and mothers. And when we think of intelligence officers today, most have had years of training (by other officers who have years of experience). The thought that during WWII, this was a whole new ballgame - intelligence gathering in its infancy. They had mere weeks to be ready to drop into Nazi-occupied countries. It not shocking that these early spies were often only given a life expectancy of 6 weeks on the ground. Add to all that, there's Virginia Hall (aka "Diana"), the protagonist of the novel, who isn't only an American woman from a well-to-do family, she has a prosthetic leg. 

Prosthetics of the 1940s are nothing like the high-tech, light-weight prosthetics of today. There were often heavy and bulky, only slightly better than a wood peg. Virginia is lucky that her prosthetic leg has a hinged ankle. Her family's wealthy status is also a bonus for her. She is well-educated, having attended university in Paris. She had worked in several consulates before the hunting accident. Her skills as a linguist and having lived extensively in France probably weighed heavily in her favor in getting a job first with the SOE and then the OSS when the U.S. entered WWII.

For those that have read Code Name Helene, some of the plot will be familiar as Virginia works with the Maquis and organizing airdrops of supplies. But Virginia's role as a radio operator is different than Nancy Wake's (Helene) role as a spy. The Invisible Woman is also set in a different part of France, near the mountains on the Swiss border. So there is plenty of new information to feast on. I love learning new things about WWII, even after reading countless books set during the time.

The story is well-written and you will come to care deeply for all the secondary characters. I'm so glad that Robuck gave the fate of the characters in real life in her note at the end of the book as I had to know what happened to them but it would have been difficult for me to find out as often only their code name is given in the story.

My only regret with this novel is that I didn't have more hours in the day to devote to reading it. If I could have, I would have read it in a day. But then again, I got to spend nearly a whole week with these characters and had something to look forward to each evening.

Buy The Invisible Woman at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I have Code Name Helene on my TBR shelf so will add this one to my list as well

    1. They are both so very good. I'm amazed what these women did.

  2. MY father was in a bomber crew of the US 8th Air Force, shot down, and crash-landed in Switzerland. He escaped over the French Alps. The Maquis helped him and the others in his group, along with a Swiss guide. This sounds like it's in the same area and I am eager to read it.