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on 5 September 2013
Having read other biographies by Carole Seymour Jones I was eagerly looking forward to this publication-and I was not disappointed. Very well researched and,although in a similar genre to other espionage books, Carole's detailing has obviously paid dividends in really bringing to life the history of this remarkable lady-someone whose courage and relative anonymity in the general annals of wartime espionage activity are now portrayed in a book I would recommend to anyone who has even a vague interest in British undercover operations in World War Two.
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on 30 August 2013
this is a well researched, well written book, My interest in it stems from the fact that my father was a trainer first at Beaulieu in the New Forest and then in North Africa so i grew up surrounded by books about these brave people although they were never talked about. It is very readable, humorous in places and very moving, i enjoyed every minute of it and couldnt put it down!
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on 3 August 2013
This a great read for people interested about the second world war. I am astounded and the terrible danger that these very young people put themselves through. And many of them did not survive. They put their country first, fantastic quality in a person.
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on 3 September 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this very readable book and its fascinating insight to the resistance movement in France in the Second World War. Agent Pearl Witherington was a remarkable but relatively unknown heroine, receiving recognition for all her bravery only late in her life. In today's affluent world it is difficult to comprehend the sacrifices agents like Pearl made for their countries and the hardships they faced - but perhaps that is all the more reason for reading this book.
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on 15 August 2013
Pearl Witherington was the real Charlotte Gray - the only woman in the history of S.O.E. in France to run a network of Resistance fighters. Prof. M.R.D. Foot, to whom this book is dedicated, said 'I have never met anyone braver than Pearl'. She was a truly amazing heroine, in every sense of the word, and it is also the story of a romance, when she eventually marries Henri Cornioley, whom she had known before the War in Paris, and when she became head of her resistance circuit, with over 2,000 man under her command, he became her second lieutenant. They organised parachute drops of arms and supplies, blew up bridges and railway lines, blocked roads, cut communications, and supplied intelligence to the Allies ahead of the D-Day Landings - as she said 'We liberated France south of the Loire'. She was venerated by her troop, and became their symbol. 'She was for us what de Gaulle was for France' said one of them.
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on 18 May 2014
Pearl Witherington grew up in Paris struggling to make sure that her mother and sisters would not go hungry and have a place to live. After the fall of Paris, the family makes to London where Pearl becomes a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and is parachuted back into France where she becomes the only woman who runs a network.
"She Landed by Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington" by Carole Seymour-Jones was a good book telling a story a young woman who passion for her country would lead her to fight for her country. This was a good book and a great story about one woman's fight.
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on 31 July 2013
Having read much of the literature on SOE over the last 40 years I was really keen to read this book on Pearl Witherington. Unfortunately it did not live up to the standard I have come to expect over the years from the likes of M.R.D. Foot.

I'm sorry to have to say that this is more akin to a novel than a serious biography although it does give a good basic outline of Pearl's life. Details of how she managed to gather and keep command of such a large Maquis group and also their operations are lacking or skimmed over. Whilst information is needed on other Circuits and their interaction with Pearl's Circuit there are far too many references to other aspects of SOE's war that have no relationship to what Pearl did. One example of this is Giskes's 'Operation Nordpol', the Abwehr operation against SOE's Dutch section; other than the fact that this operation was against SOE and Pearl was in SOE there is no connection, so it rather smacks of 'padding'.

Was it really necessary to include details of her sexual relationship with Henri? Wouldn't it have been better to give more information on her Circuit's operations against the Das Reich SS Panzers which was of far more importance to the outcome of the Battle for Normandy?

Pearl Witherington was an exceptionally brave SOE agent who had no illusions about what would happen to her if she was captured. She was (along with all other SOE agents) treated abominably by de Gaulle at the end of the war by being ordered to leave France within 48 hours. At least she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur. She was feisty enough to tell the British authorities what they could do with their civil MBE - 'there was nothing remotely "civil" about what I did.' She had to wait 60 years for her parachute 'wings' ... utterly deplorable

The Times quote states 'The truth is that Sebastian Faulk's novel...stands on its own, but so does She Landed by Moonlight, the long-awaited biography that Agent Pearl deserves. (The Times)' It's a good read but I feel that there is a much better biography yet to be written ... perhaps in that biography we might find that the authorities had awarded Pearl the Military Cross that she was recommended for, so richly deserved and was refused because she was a woman?
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on 7 August 2013
What really stands out in this tautly written work of non-fiction is the courage of Pearl Witherington.

Carole Seymour-Jones's brilliant book charts the story of the Anglo-French secretary who volunteers for SOE and ends up as one of the most formidable agents in France in the second world war, leading an army of 4000 resistance fighters, which holds back the German panzer divisions from the beaches of Normandy, and so helps to win the war.

Seymour-Jones's book is finely crafted, deftly mixing personal, political and military. The book is unconventional in its approach to biography - refreshingly so. This book is for anyone interested in history, courage, spying, and the second world war. I found it compellingly readable.
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on 2 August 2015
Without doubt the best book I have read - and I have read many, being particularly interested in the subject - of the French resistance to the Nazi occupation. The scale of the atrocities committed by the Germans in reprisal for acts of resistance was a revelation to me and was truly horrifying.. Carole Seymour-Jones, whose obituary I had read a few weeks prior to reading her book, captures the mood of the period, the incredible bravery of Pearl Witherington , and the incompetence of the bureaucrats in London in charge of clandestine operations in occupied France, quite superbly. Highly recommended.
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on 15 September 2013
I found the story absolutely fascinating, and were it not so thoroughly researched and referenced you might think it was fiction. The background of internal conflicts within the British security services and the government, plus mutual suspicions between British and French politicians and security personnel, all add to my wondering how the allies succeeded in the war with Germany. The heroism, leadership and romanticism of Pearl Witherington are very engaging, and her lack of recognition by the British authorities until many years later is shocking. The one limitation is that to some extent the book reads as a very detailed study rather than a powerful narrative.
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