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Early One Morning [Hardcover]

Robert Ryan
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 2002
In the flamboyant twenties, Englishman William Grover-Williams and Frenchman Robert Benoist are fierce rivals racing their elegant Bugattis on the glittering European race circuits. Not only is the World Championship in their sights, but they have both fallen for the sensuous charms of the extravagantly beautiful Eve Aubicq. But when war breaks out, both are signed up by Special Operations Executive for missions behind enemy lines in France, one of which includes investigating rumours of the manufacture of the lethal gas Zyklon B and how it is being used by the Germans. In a series of daring sabotages and assassinations, they cause havoc to the Germans, but finally their cover is blown and they are captured and tortured. Based on a true story of British covert activity and the French resistance during the second world war, this is a gripping novel of heroism, self-sacrifice, love and betrayal.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; 1st Edition edition (4 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074726872X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747268727
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 854,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Excellent fact-based romp...I cannot recommend it too highly...Robert Ryan writes elegantly and his prose is illuminated by provocative insights and descriptions...a genuinely unusual work of fiction...Comparisions may be drawn between Early One Morning and Charlotte Gray. Ryan's story is much the stronger.' Daily Telegraph

'Genuinely moving...The atmosphere at early motor racing events is well conjured and one can almost hear the ripping-canvas sound of the Bugatti engine resounding off the walls in Casino Square...marvellous...a fine yarn and an entertaining holiday read'

Daily Telegraph (Motoring section)

'Ryan is terrific on the technical details...Early One Morning has an unexpected twist in the tale...Early One Morning will sell' The Times

'If the racing drama wasn't keen enough, the rise of facism and the subsequent German invasion of France twists the tension-regulator up to 11...The combination of fast cars, sex and romance, spies, nasty Nazi and plucky heroes is damn near irresistable, and Ryan's grasp on the plot is hard to fault...Anyone labouring under the misapprehension that plodders like Robert Harris and Frederick Forsyth are at the pinnacle could receive a much needed - and very enjoyable - education' Time Out

'It steers well clear of this genre's pitfalls, thanks to the author's well-honed thriller instinct. Essential

reading' GQ

'An engaging and dramatic story, hugely enjoyable' Glasgow Herald

'A gripping novel in the Sebastian Faulks mould' Eastern daily Press

'A brialliant page-turner' Midweek

'A beautiful and haunting read' Daily Express

'[Ryan] scores highly in depicting the atmosphere of the great racetracks of the 1930s' Observer

'A meticulously researched, highly readable and ultimately uplifting account of the human potential to do good' The Big Issue in the North

'An enjoyable read' Glasgow Evening Times

Book Description

A powerful, heart-stirring novel of war and unbreakable friendship

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I wouldn't normally read a book about the war but I'd just seen Charlotte Gray so thought I'd give this one a go and it was fantastic. In fact, much better than Charlotte Gray because this is all based on real people and events. I had no idea that Grand Prix drivers had been recruited for Resistance work before I started reading and, fortunately for Ryan, they were all incredibly glamorous and colourful characters so the book's full of the most wonderful stories about their exploits. Ryan's obviously done loads of research and there are fascinating insights into all sorts of areas of war-time life (like how French prostitutes were recruited to give German soldiers sexual diseases). But the most unusual thing is I loved it (the romance between Williams and Eve is really powerful) and my husband loved it too (all the stuff about cars). It's rare we both can really enjoy the same book. You could buy this book for anyone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Early One Morning is an immensely engaging blend of fact based adventure, all the more gripping for the unlikely background of the racing driver protagonists, interwoven with an unsentimental but moving love story. The early chapters set in pre-war Paris capture in superb detail the decadence which was to end all too soon. This contrasts starkly, for instance, with the harrowing scenes of Jewish prisoners en route to the camps. The twists and turns as Williams and his close friend Benoist keep ahead of the Gestapo are in the best traditions of war time escapades (though some of the later war scenes including Williams own incarceration in a concentration camp do not carry quite the same punch).
All this is carefully wrapped in a series of flashbacks from the present day as the truth (?) about Williams is finally uncovered.
Early One Morning is a terrific read with wide appeal; its basis in fact only adds to this appeal.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Judge a Book by its Cover! 7 Aug 2008
If I had judged this title by the artwork on its cover or the blurb on the back cover I doubt that I would have chosen to read it. Based on my husband's recommendation I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did as somewhat to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed this story of the resistance movement in France during WWII.
What made it particularly intriguing was that this novel is based on real events and inspired by the protagonists of the story who were real people. William Grover, an Englishman and Robert Benoist both drove for Bugatti on the European Race Circuits and I believe that to this day trophies in their names are raced for. Eve Aubicq was the beautiful woman whose charms they both fell for. Their relationships and friendships are tested to the limits as these two brave men work for the British government behind enemy lines.
In 2001 a car that has remained submerged since WWII is retrieved from an Austrian Lake. We are then told the incredible story of the devotion and bravery leading up to this event.
At times Early One Morning is emotional and disturbing but it is certainly well worth reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch 3 Feb 2004
It's crass to say "best book I've ever read", but this one certainly comes close. I was so impressed, I subsequently spent hours searching the web for more information on Messrs. Grover-Williams and Benoist. So it's a fictional account of a true story, and factually in places inaccurate. This does not matter one iota - it's probably all the better for its dramatisation. The combination of "cloak and dagger", nazi persecution and the motor-racing glamour and toil of the day creates a brilliant backdrop for the book.
The only downside to all of this, is that it raises your expectations for Ryan's next works. In fairness, Blue Noon was similarly a good read,but not in the same league as this one. I have pre-ordered RR's next novel and wait with anticipation of another truly outstanding work.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compulsive read 25 April 2002
By A Customer
Before you start reading this book, unplug the phone and put a big Do Not Disturb sign on your life: Early One Morning is a fantastic 'read it in one go' story.
I have no interest in motor racing, yet Robert Ryan's fast moving tale of Second World War Paris and real life race driver-cum-heroes Williams and Benoist, made this book an incredible read.
Based on a true story and painstakingly researched, this is a classic cloak and dagger spy story, with a passionate love story running through the middle. It is also a horrific and moving account of Paris' shameful role in the Nazi's appalling Jewish extermination programme.
Ryan's book is a wonderful tale of personal courage and tragic events, set in a decaying city where collaboration and resistence, race neck and neck to the finishing line.
Read it - you'll love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking yarn 11 Jun 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - a cocktail of racing, spying and WW2 adventure, capture, terror and escape. Told in a style of flashbacks - giving both the intrigue of then and now with some great twists at the end. Yes you may criticise the lack of some character development but still a cracking yarn with a good dash of fact, with "elegantly written prose and provocative insights and descriptions" - Good stuff- better than Faulks?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong fiction, and fact 24 Dec 2010
By meltow
I was intrigued to read from the back cover that Early One Morning is based on a true story. I was even more intrigued with the storyline; based around 2 main characters who before WW2 were the heart and soul of the Bugatti racing team. The story takes you through their clandestine operations with the French Resistance, and ultimately their capture by the Nazis. There are some harrowing, descriptive passages about life and death in the concentration camps. However, the tender moments between the characters certainly outweighs the torment and torture.
A most enjoyable read, and one I am recommending.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Confusing But OK in the End
The timing of the storyline dives back and forth a little too much for my taste.
However, as the plot worked itself out I found myself liking it more than first impressions... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bookfiend
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story but the book in lousy condition
It's a good read but the condition of this book was awful! As if it had been kicked around a car park!! = worth 5p. Low standards seller...
Published 7 months ago by Carol Felton
5.0 out of 5 stars book
wanted this book for ages,i just loved the story, one min i was laughing then i cried a good read
Published 8 months ago by lemons
5.0 out of 5 stars EARLY ONE MORNING
Published 9 months ago by SCAMPTON83
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Fact and Fiction
This is a fictionalised story based on real events before and during the Second World War. I loved the descriptions of the glamour of Paris in the twenties and the whole racing-car... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Janette Skinner
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read
Based on a true story, but imaginatively fictionalised, this centres on the life of William Grover Williams, an Englishman with French connections, and Robert Benoist, a cultured... Read more
Published on 1 April 2012 by Benjamin
1.0 out of 5 stars Early One Morning by Robert Ryan
My first Robert Ryan book and my last. Tedious in the extreme, but I must admit to not finishing it. Half way through I lost the will to live. Read more
Published on 22 Jun 2010 by Jane Field
4.0 out of 5 stars Tension Building
To start with I couldn't help but think this book must have taken a lot of inspiration from Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks but as I read on the book came into its own. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2010 by E. H.
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from his best due to suspect research!
I have read, and usually enjoyed, other Ryan books. But I found this offering is woeful in a lot of areas. I thought some of the plots and events were stretching my belief too far. Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2010 by Lullaby-in-Ragtime!
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
A really well written yarn, which leaves you both exhilarated by the action and humbled by the knowledge that men and women such as these really did carry out such deeds.
Published on 10 Mar 2005 by Diesel
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