Monday, 6 July 2015

Book review : Tightrope - Simon Mawer

Tightrope tells the story of Marian Sutro, a plucky and headstrong young woman who is attempting to pick up the pieces after her traumatic experiences during World War II. Working as a double agent for the allies in the SOE (Special Operations Executive), she was parachuted into France before being arrested by the Gestapo, barbarically interrogated and sent off to Ravensbrück concentration camp. She eventually managed to escape but the scars, both physical and mental, have still not healed when she returns to the now alien world of post-war England.

She returns to her parents and tries to ease into a period of convalescence in a peaceful cottage on the Sussex coast but her haunting memories and irrepressible longing for adventure make this into her toughest challenge yet. Outwardly settling into her new life with a 9-to-5 job and a husband, Marian is soon lured back into her old ways and returns to the shadowy, secret world of espionage. Nothing is the same though - the new Cold War means that old Soviet allies are now seen as political enemies and Marian is no longer sure where her loyalties lie. The Nazi threat may have been eradicated but the new sinister threat of atomic or even hydrogen bombs wiping out vast swathes of humanity have led to an uneasy sense of peace and a delicate reevaluation of what is morally and politically right or wrong.

Marian has a rich, complex personality so the supporting cast of characters, with the exception perhaps of her brother Ned, seem to pale into insignificance around her. Just like Marian, the reader is constantly on edge, looking out for sinister shadows or dangers lurking in the background at every turn, but I couldn't help but think that this post-war period of her life is undoubtedly less exciting and poignant than her dangerous escapades as a spy, before and after her capture by the Germans. I didn't realise that this is the sequel to The Girl Who Fell From The Sky and, while the book does work fine as a stand-alone novel, I do think I would have felt more empathy and attachment to Marian if I had read the account of her earlier experiences.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £16.99

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (4 Jun. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408706210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408706213
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. The characterisation sounds superb, my kind of read even if it is harrowing