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The Spy Who Loved Audio Download – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once again Clare Mulley has produced a wonderful biography about a woman I wish I had known a lot more about a long time ago. The remarkable twists and turns in Christine Granville's life are beautifully described in this book. It seems that the author has captured the essence of Christine's intriguing personality in this page-turner. Clare Mulley's scene-setting is such that I could feel my heart racing at key points during Christine's WWII experiences.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Clare Mulley's 'The Spy who Loved' is the very compelling story of Christine Granville, Britain's first female special agent of WW2, who was born Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbeck, in Warsaw in 1908, the daughter of a dissolute Polish aristocrat and his very wealthy Jewish wife. Although the daughter of a count, Christine was never really accepted in the upper echelons of Polish society, due to her being half Jewish and she often felt on the margins of that society; however this only served to make her the ferociously driven and independent individual that she was.

Christine was beautiful, resourceful, courageous, highly motivated and highly sexed; she was fiercely determined and addicted to danger, excitement and adventure. Married to her first husband when she was twenty one years old and married for a second time when she arrived in England after the outbreak of war, Christine presented herself to the British Secret Service and offered to ski over the Tatra Mountains, (with her one-legged lover) into occupied Poland and return with a first-hand account of the situation in Warsaw. And, surprising as it may seem, she was commissioned to do just that, and this hazardous journey over the frozen mountains into Poland, was just one of many dangerous missions undertaken by this rather amazing woman. Apart from skiing into Poland, she served in Egypt, parachuted into occupied France, and saved the lives of many British, Polish and French officers. She made a significant contribution to the war effort by managing to infiltrate her way into the enemy camp and then smuggle information into Britain sewn into the lining of her gloves, with a cyanide tablet sewn into the hem of her skirt in case she should get caught.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I didn't warm to Krystyna Skarbek in the early chapters of this biography. Perhaps it was the aristocratic I-don't-give-a-damn impression, perhaps I was jealous of the beauty. Anyway it didn't matter as Clare Mulley wasn't asking me to like her subject, just to become aquainted with this unusual personality. I like Mulley's narrative approach throughout. She stands back and describes events with the quiet assurance of thorough research. This enables the reader to stick with Christine (as Krystyna became) through the ups and downs of her extraordinary life. It also makes it easier to see her in context - both the close context of the people who worked with or managed her and the wider historical context. I felt I had learned a great deal more than the story of a life - I had a new angle on WW2 and its aftermath and an unexpected insight Polishness and the quality of extraordinary bravery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Spy Who Loved is the story of Christine Glanville born Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek, reputedly Churchill's favourite spy from WW2; she was also sometimes dubbed Britain's most beautiful spy, possibly as she had once taken part in a 1930 Polish beauty contest. There are several recently published books on the same subject and their almost simultaneous appearance is a curious coincidence. However, as she was later employed by SOE after it was established in 1940, the title 'spy' is not one that they would accept - agent was the accepted description.

Christine Glanville was originally a nom de guerre, although she formally adopted the name post-War when she opted to remain in Britain, used by the daughter of a Polish Count and a Jewish mother. Not truly accepted by relatives on either side of her family, she sought more from life than she had been served. A family relationship with the Polish composer, Chopin, gave her no advantages. Once Poland was invaded, and with her Jewish connections likely to make life more complex had she stayed, she was later able to escape to Britain where she underwent extensive training. She had initially worked as a spy in Poland and then moved to France where her knowledge of the language served her well, all within the first months of the War. On escape to Britain, she was recruited by the newly born SOE and continued under their umbrella until War's end, becoming their longest-serving female agent. She returned to Poland several times in order to act as a courier, physically transporting information that could not be sent via radio.

As a spy she was highly capable and successful operating within Europe and North Africa. She was able to gain information and sometimes hid slips of paper within her gloves where they went unfound.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written/researched book that takes you on an incredible journey. It is not for the faint hearted. It is daunting to read and be reminded of everything that happened during the War, the politics, the savagery. Great book, but not one you read before bedtime.
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