The Juliet Code…
About the Book:
It’s 1947 and the war is over, but Juliet Barnard is still tormented by secrets. She was a British agent and wireless operator in occupied Paris until her mission went critically wrong. Juliet was caught by the Germans, imprisoned and tortured in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch.
Now that she’s home, Juliet can’t – or won’t – relive the horrors that occurred in that place. Nor will she speak about Sturmbannführer Strasser, the manipulative Nazi who held her captive. . .
Haunted by the guilt of betrayal, the last thing Juliet wants is to return to Paris. But when Mac, an SAS officer turned Nazi-hunter, demands her help searching for his sister, Denise, she can’t refuse. Denise and Juliet trained together before being dropped behind enemy lines. Unlike Juliet, Denise never made it home. Certain Strasser is the key to discovering what happened to his sister, Mac is determined to find answers – but will the truth destroy Juliet?
There are so many stories to come out of WWII. It awes me, how this never fades, no matter the years that pass and the distance that widens. The Juliet Code is a story about espionage and the high price spies paid if captured behind enemy lines. The author notes at the end indicate just how much of this story was inspired by real people and real events. It’s an absorbing read, filled with tension and quite a lot of harrowing moments. Juliet was a complex character and her story has touched me deeply.
I felt rather betrayed on behalf of these young women who were British spies sent into France. They were literally being sent to their deaths, knowingly by the powers that sanctioned it, and I can’t really fathom whether it was worth it or not. What was learnt from spies parachuting into France and being captured immediately by Nazis? How many times did this happen before they stopped sending them in? It seemed to me to be a futile exercise that only benefited the enemy. These spies were informed during training that they shouldn’t expect to last long. Juliet kept saying to herself, over and over, that she had lasted for months, so she had therefore done so much more than what was expected – how debilitating, to have an expiration date put onto you from the outset. And how fortunate, that a case of nerves led to Juliet initially landing in France at a location different to her fellow spies. The conspiracy around British spy units sabotaging other British units was another eye popping notion to come out of these pages, yet, oddly enough, I found it entirely plausible. I was also disturbed by the bargaining that went on after the war, over Nazi war criminals. To offer sanction in exchange for intelligence is a horrific act of betrayal to all of the people who suffered through the war. It’s like this novel has opened up a can of worms full of things for me to be incensed about. There’s a lot of thought provoking material contained within its pages, that’s for sure.
The legacy of espionage and collaboration is explored throughout the narrative extensively, along with the heavy burden of guilt associated with survival. The Juliet Code is excellent historical fiction that doesn’t hold back. It’s not all grim, there is a love story woven into the mix and a joyously happy ending to temper the more harrowing sections of the novel. All in all, I highly recommend this as a really great read.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of The Juliet Code for review.
About the Author:
Christine Wells worked as a corporate lawyer in a city firm before exchanging contracts and prospectuses for a different kind of fiction. In her novels, she draws on a lifelong love of British history and an abiding fascination for the way laws shape and reflect society. Christine is devoted to big dogs, good coffee, beachside holidays and Antiques Roadshow, but above all to her two sons who live with her in Brisbane.