Code Name: Lise is a fast-paced book that tells the story of Odette Sansom and her adventures in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. The author, Larry Loftis, has obviously perused all available documentation relative to Odette’s history and compiled a thought provoking, exciting catalogue of how a quiet, married Anglo/Frenchwoman, residing in Britain with three young daughters, became the most highly decorated agent working for the French Resistance.
Odette Sansom became a household name after the war was over. Books were published about her exploits, this being the latest one. A 1950 film, Odette, in which she was played by Anna Neagle was a massive success, with the king and queen attending its premiere.
To read about the scary, harrowing existence that she lived during the war years, right up until she was captured, is quite a lesson in human nature under duress, but after she was captured, the story then becomes a graphic nightmare of detail and endurance.
This is a well-written book, almost a romance novel, almost a horror story, almost a war story, that can leave the reader somewhat breathless. The author has that knack of shifting the emphasis onto another detail just when the narrative gets exciting. This enhances the book greatly, making it rather similar to a decent novel really.
One gets the motive to examine how an attractive female with three young daughters gives up a reasonably contented and safe life in England to enter the jaws of hell in Nazi-occupied territory. She placed her own life on the line every day, was eventually captured, brutally tortured, and shifted from one prison to another, all the time thinking about everyone else, except herself. I really wonder at how things are so different today and whether a woman in the same position as Odette do the same.
A last chapter is about the movement to have Odette Sansom’s George Cross medal rescinded, plus other rather hard-hearted attempts to undermine her achievements. Why? I have no idea, but others, who probably had nothing better to do, seem to pour from the woodwork. It all makes quite the interesting book. Far more moving than the film, in which any 1950’ visual detail is often lacking owing to censorship. A cracking book from one end to the other.
Reg Seward 4/3
Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis
Mirror Books 9781912624546 hbk May 2019