While Nancy cuts a vivid, stylish figure through the novel's pages, her supporting cast is also well drawn ... Their feats of daring and gritty survival tactics are drawn largely from true accounts by Nancy and others, but Lawhon's elegant plotting makes them shine ... Bold, confident, dryly witty and driven by a strong sense of justice, Nancy (no matter which name she uses) is a fascinating character. Lawhon's gripping narrative gives 'Hélène' her due.
Ariel Lawhon’s Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding work of historical fiction ... one of the most sensual romance novels you’ve ever read ... let the story sink in, and Nancy and Henri’s enduring love will indeed rise to the surface.
... [an] exhaustively researched and vividly woven historical novel ... an epic love story as an engrossing narrative of an unlikely anti-Nazi combatant ... Lawhon has proven herself a master at her craft, and she does readers a great service with Code Name Hélène[.]
Code Name Hélène is the richer of the two [compared with Liberation, also about Nancy Wake], and the more thoroughly researched; the chapters devoted to Fiocca’s courtship of 'Noncee' and their luxurious lifestyle in peacetime Marseilles give the opening third of the book a slower pace, but subsequent events gain power from the juxtaposition ... Lawhon’s novel has more than its share of action, but since it is largely told in the first person we see the danger from Wake’s perspective and are rarely instructed what to make of her. These are exciting and well-written accounts of wartime valour, and their protagonist’s qualities shine through.
Lawhon has a knack for excavating compelling characters from history ... Lawhon’s talent for geographical detail shines ... Lawhon has created an energetic, suspenseful tale, vividly conveying the grunge in Nancy’s life as well as the luxury, the hardship as well as the privilege. Unfortunately, the writing is uneven and rushed, marred by anachronisms, clichés, convoluted transitions, and unconvincing details ... she was too busy to finish the research? Code Name Hélène, entertaining as it is, leaves readers hungry for more depth, rigor, and grace.
... magnificent ... Lawhon carries us into the heart of the French resistance ... Nancy’s fighting spirit shines through her propulsive narrative, and her comrades-in-arms are well-rendered secondary characters. Her journey to becoming a fierce, powerful leader is as emotionally stirring as her growing bond with Henri. Even long after the last page is turned, this astonishing story of Wake’s accomplishments will hold readers in its grip.
Based on the real-life exploits of 'socialite spy' Nancy Wake, Lawhon's (I Was Anastasia) story presents Wake's heroism, alongside the bravery and sacrifice of all who fought, giving hope that even in the darkest times there are real-life heroes. Readers will be transfixed by this story of a woman who should be a household name.
... gripping ... Lawhon’s vivid, fast-paced narrative will keep readers turning the pages, and a detailed afterword makes plain how much of the account is factual. This entertaining tale does justice to Lawhon’s larger-than-life subject.