The Woman With No Name by Audrey Blake
Historical Fiction | WWII
Audrey Blake is admittedly one of my favorite authors, which means that I didn’t even bother reading the description before requesting my advance copy of The Woman with No Name. And this newest WWII-set novel by Audrey Blake certainly did NOT disappoint!
The Woman With No Name is based on the real-life story of Yvonne Rudellat — the first female SOE agent to be sent to German-occupied France during WWII. The French resistance is one of my favorite subjects in historical fiction, and these authors did a fantastic job bringing to life actual historical figures and events.
In their first standalone, Audrey Blake takes us to a different setting than their previous series, but the writing is still filled with the same vivid imagery, compelling characters, and heartfelt plot that I’ve come to expect.
Yvonne is a female saboteur in her forties, and I was thrilled to see a main character who had already had some life experience under her belt. And yet, at the same time, she’s feeling isolated and adrift, discontent to fit the mold that so many others have wanted to place her in. This made for an interesting, well-layered character that was easy to connect with and feel for.
Written in first person, the story also flashes forward and back in time. I found this to be a compelling way of building backstory, character, and motivation. The one element to the flashbacks that didn’t quite work for me, was a part of Yvonne’s personal history and a training task that featured really heavily in the flashback chapters. Because it was so strongly emphasized, I thought it was going to play a pivotal role during Yvonne’s time in France, and I was a bit surprised to find it didn’t tie in with the present. However, overall, I think the flashback chapters demonstrated the character’s perseverance, dedication, and willpower – and I thought that was well done.
The novel felt well-researched, and I gleaned a few new historical tidbits that I hadn’t encountered in fiction before. (Like rat bombs! Yes… a real thing!) While the ending came as a bit of a surprise to me – I liked how it was done. I’ve come to expect a certain conclusion to most French resistance-type stories, and it was refreshing to see that the authors weren’t afraid to let this story go where it needed to.
Full disclosure: I didn’t realize the main character was based on a historical figure until the author’s note at the end. This is why I love authors’ notes in historical novels, especially when they highlight where fact meets imagination. Sometimes, true-life truly is as unbelievable as fiction! Knowing that Yvonne Rudellat encountered and experienced a lot of the same things as our protagonist did, makes me truly appreciate this story on another level. I’m grateful that the authors took the time to research and introduce us to this inspiring woman in such a beautiful way. (Plus, not knowing in advance meant that I didn’t accidentally spoil the ending by researching Yvonne’s life while I was reading. Another bad habit of mine…)
With its strong pacing, immaculate setting, and captivating characters, I highly recommend this for fans of historical fiction. I am so excited for whatever time period and trailblazing female protagonist Audrey Blake decides to tackle next!
WWII historical fiction fans who enjoy action-packed stories and inspiring, female protagonists
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance e-copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Sourcebooks and NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) She’ll light the fire of resistance—but she may get burned…
1942. Though she survived the bomb that destroyed her home, Yvonne Rudellat’s life is over. She’s estranged from her husband, her daughter is busy with war work, and Yvonne—older, diminutive, overlooked—has lost all purpose. Until she’s offered a chance to remake herself entirely… The war has taken a turn for the worse, and the men in charge are desperate. So, when Yvonne is recruited as Britain’s first female sabotage agent, expectations are low. But her tenacity, ability to go unnoticed, and aptitude for explosives set her apart. Soon enough she arrives in occupied France with a new identity, ready to set the Nazi regime ablaze. But there are adversaries on all sides.
As Yvonne becomes infamous as the nameless, unstoppable woman who burns the enemy at every turn, she realizes she may lose herself to the urgent needs of the cause …