On-sale April 23, 2019
The dramatic, untold story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory.
In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was fighting. Churchill believed Britain was locked in an existential battle and created a secret agency, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), whose spies were trained in everything from demolition to sharp-shooting. Their job, he declared, was “to set Europe ablaze!” But with most men on the frontlines, the SOE did something unprecedented: it recruited women. Thirty-nine women answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France. Half were caught, and a third did not make it home alive.
In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the story of three of these women. There’s Odette Sansom, a young mother who feels suffocated by domestic life and sees the war as her ticket out; Lise de Baissac, an unflappable aristocrat with the mind of a natural leader; and Andrée Borrel, the streetwise organizer of the Paris Resistance. Together, they derailed trains, blew up weapons caches, destroyed power and phone lines, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war. Stylishly written and rigorously researched, this is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance, in which women continue to play a vital role.
"Gripping...Spies, romance, Gestapo thugs, blown-up trains, courage, and treachery (lots of treachery) —and all of it true." —Erik Larson
“Thoroughly researched and written as smoothly as a good thriller, this is a mesmerizing story of creativity, perseverance, and astonishing heroism.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Comprehensive and compelling . . . Readers get to know these amazing women as individuals as their duties unfold against the backdrop of the war. . . . Rose smoothly integrates developing events with biographical details and glimpses into French wartime society, creating a digestible and easy-to-follow story. This satisfying mix of social history and biography . . . should engage a wide audience.”—Booklist (starred review)
“D-Day Girls, written with novelistic detail, weaves together five women’s narratives using historical research from contemporary periodicals, archives, and interview records. . . . [D-Day Girls is part of] a new library and a more robust approach to analyzing women’s essential role in war.”—Foreign Policy
““D-Day Girls” brims with detail, akin to the nonfiction narratives of Erik Larson and Laura Hillenbrand.” — Women’s Wear Daily
“Rose delivers a swift moving . . . expert blow-by-blow account. . . . A readable spy thriller that fights against the idea of ‘the original sin of women at war.’”—Kirkus Reviews