Sonia Purnell’s A Woman of No Importance, the never-before-told story of Virginia Hall — the American spy who changed the course of the World War II — is out from Virago in the UK and from Viking in the US today.
In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”
The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and–despite her prosthetic leg–helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.
Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.
Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall–an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war.
“…It is a marvel that Purnell, who has previously written biographies of Boris Johnson and Clementine Churchill, has discovered so much…. It is a pleasure to read a biography in which the author admires her subject so warmly. This might so easily have been a pernickety, fact-finding book, but instead it is a rousing tale of derring-do. Men, women and tomboys will all enjoy the courage and initiative of Virginia Hall.” – The Times (London) Book of the Week
“A remarkable chronicle… this lively examination… shows how, if Hall had been a man, dropping undercover in and out of occupied Vichy, Paris, and Lyon, setting up safe houses, and coordinating couriers for the Resistance, she would now be as famous as James Bond… Meticulous research results in a significant biography of a trailblazer who now has a CIA building named after her.” – Kirkus
“Purnell’s writing is as precise and engaging as her research, and this book restores overdue attention to one of the world’s great war heroes. It’s a joy to read, and it will swell readers’ hearts with pride.” – Starred Booklist review
“Purnell does a fine job of bringing Hall’s story to life. Fans of WWII history and women’s history will be riveted.” — Publishers Weekly
“Well researched, fast paced, and gives a captivating look at one of World War II’s unsung heroes. This will interest readers intrigued by the history of espionage as well as women’s and military history.” – Library Journal
“…A groundbreaking biography that reads like a spy thriller… a suspenseful, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant tale of heroism and sacrifice.” – Bookpage
Monday 8th April – 6.30pm
Tuesday 9th April, 12pm
New York, NY
Wednesday 10th April – 6.15pm
GENERAL SOCIETY LIBRARY
New York, NY
Thursday 11th April, 12pm
Thursday 11th April – 6.00pm
Friday 12th April – 6.45pm
Saturday 13th April – 3.30pm
POLITICS AND PROSE
Saturday 15th April – 7.15pm
BEVERLEY HILLS WOMEN’S CLUB
Los Angeles, CA
Sunday 16th April – 7.00pm
Los Angeles, CA
Monday 17th April – 6.45pm
LA JOLLA WOMEN’S CLUB
La Jolla, CA
Tuesday 18th April – 6.30pm
San Francisco, CA
For her complete event schedule, click here.