Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the story of the women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory in World War II. Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.
Author/narrator Rose relates the story of the several members of the 'corps feminine' with meticulous research combined with dedication and energy. Her narration reflects this obvious passion for her subject. Her pacing and inflection are masterful; in moments when the women are in grave danger, she has listeners on the edge of their seats, breathless. She does not attempt to give individual voices to the various men and women, but their identities are always clear. Rose’s French pronunciations are excellent and her German is also quite good. Listeners in search of a little-known aspect of WWII, narrated by a knowledgeable and talented author, will find much here to enjoy.
This is high-flown writing. Sometimes it comes off, such as when rooms are 'clouded with cigarette smoke and discord', or bureaucracy 'kicks into inaction', turns of phrase reminiscent of the pithy memoirs of Leo Marks, SOE’s brilliant head of coding. Elsewhere, Rose lapses into a more Mills-and-Boon style ... Since the book’s raison d’être is to remind us of the women’s agency, it seems odd to present them in this girlish way ... So many books on women’s contributions to the war reduce them to plucky schoolgirls: The Bletchley Girls, War Girls, Spitfire Girls, Bomb Girls, and The Girls Who Went to War. Now Rose gives us D-Day Girls, as if her subjects were not highly trained servicewomen. Nevertheless, this is a balanced account of three wartime careers that deserve to be better known, and allows Rose to make a fresh assessment of SOE’s achievements as well as its failures, the great courage shown (as well as some cowardice), and the price, as well as the prize, of victory.
While chronicling the James Bond-worthy missions and love affairs of these women, Rose vividly captures the broken landscape of war ... D-Day Girls is scrupulously researched ... Packed with details and multiple storylines, D-Day Girls may be a bit dense for some readers, but history buffs are likely to find it a treasure trove of previously unexplored details about the lives of these female spies.