A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

A Woman of No Importance

"An incredible story of under-appreciated heroism." - USA Today "A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPRThe never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must fin...

Details A Woman of No Importance

TitleA Woman of No Importance
Release DateApr 9th, 2019
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, War, World War II, Spy Thriller, Espionage

Reviews A Woman of No Importance

  • Stephanie Crowe
    Purnell has penned another spectacular history of another outstanding woman. I was enamored with the first history of Clementine Churchill. I loved that one!! And this tale of the exploits of Virginia Hall just blew me out of the water!!! This woman was unstoppable, unflappable and fearless in her desire to serve in WWII. She was the primary developer of the French Resistance and worked for the British Secret Service as well the American OSS. She...
  • Madeline
    This book tells the important story of an unrecognized hero of World War II--Virginia Hall, one of the few female spies who helped build the French Resistance and assure the success of the Allied invasion of France. Purnell's stunningly detailed research and writing puts us in the action with Virginia, building up tension, emotion and joy as events unfold. Purnell also includes the perfect amount of historical context, to ensure that the reader i...
  • Donna
    3.5 STARS.This is nonfiction about an American woman who made the French resistance her passion. She fought her way to the center and did so much to assist and direct. She was daring and constantly pushed for results. I enjoyed her story. But I'm not sure I was all that crazy about the audio narration. So 3 stars.
  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    Summary: An incredible, exciting story about an inspiring, dedicated spy.This is the story of one of the most impressive people I've ever heard of. Despite being an American woman with a disability, Virgnia Hall was one of the first spies of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE aka "the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare"). By surviving a devastating early round-up of SOE agents, she was largely responsible for establishing an SOE presen...
  • Elizabeth A.G.
    A well written and researched book-Sonia Purnell brings to light the life of a mostly neglected American heroine of WWII who was dissatisfied with and eschewed the upper class life that her mother envisioned for her. Defying the convention of a "woman's place," Virginia Hall sought a life that made her feel "alive" and after overcoming discrimination, prejudice, and her disability (a prosthetic leg) found that life working for the British SOE as ...
  • Shay
    This fascinating account takes the reader deep into the underground of the French Resistance, and behind the scenes of how the Allies worked to arm and coordinate with fighters inside the occupied country to end the war. Hall’s remarkable adventures make for a gripping, if bittersweet read. After struggling to find her place as a young woman, Hall achieved great success in the war, only to struggle to advance in her later career. What was forgi...
  • Joann
    Firstly, I won this amazing book in a Goodreads Giveaway for the chance to leave an honest review of this book and what a stunner it is. This book reveals the way women were regarded in the 1930's and 1940's. We have come a long way since then but still have a good way to go yet. Virginia Hall had the skills and leadership abilities that were unrecognized by her so-called superiors. I never knew that these operations had been going on years befor...
  • Marie
    Virginia Hall should by rights be a household name. Her espionage and singular determination to aid the French Resistance is one of the most remarkable war stories I have ever read about, but most people have never heard of her. This extraordinary woman had more grit and determination than many tougher men, and more incredibly, walked with a wooden leg, having lost the leg following an injury as a teenager. Her exploits during Vichy France were n...
  • Claire
    WOW. everyone needs to read this book, and i say this a lot, but i truly, truly, TRULY mean it this time. this is a story of an amazing superwoman who existed in ww2. she was truly amazing. considering the world STILL knows nothing of virginia hall, this book is so important! we must all pay tribute to the woman trailblazer who single-handedly set up the groundwork for the french resistance in ww2, commanded guerilla forces, and routinely pulled ...
  • May
    "A Woman of No Importance" is about the life of Virginia Hall, who despite being a woman, an American, and disabled (a prosthetic leg), managed to outwit and outlast the Nazis and organize, arm, and train pockets of the Resistance throughout France during the German occupation. (Oh, and fled over the Pyrenees when the Nazis finally figured out who she was.) She then returned to France to aid the Resistance to prepare for the Allied invasion in No...
  • Bruce Katz
    An astonishing history of a woman of incredible courage and fortitude. In brief: a woman in a time and place where women were expected to be demure and subordinate, Virginia Hall refused all such expectations. Despite having lost a leg in a gun accident, she set up and ran the most successful spy and resistance operations in Nazi-occupied France, outwitting the Gestapo, their French collaborators, and numerous double agents. I gather there’s a ...
  • Bill
    She was dismissed and ignored and treated poorly and yet managed to become the premier linchpin of the French resistance during WWII. She wasn't French. She wasn't British. She was an American woman with a wooden leg. In spite of the multiple rejections and dismissals, her contribution to the Allied victory during the war earned her a Distinguished Service Cross. Despite all the rejection - simply because she was a woman - she persisted. Her cont...
  • Rachelle
    After somewhat of a rocky start (with the author being a bit over dramatic in her word choices at times), this turned out to be an incredible and gripping read. Virginia Hall was an amazing woman that did so much for France during WWII despite all of the blatant sexism that she had to endure. I wish I had heard of her before now, because she truly is incredible.
  • Vendela
    This book and this woman is riveting. A woman with a prosthetic leg who ran one of the war’s most important spy networks and was instrumental in D-day operations—and yet she’s largely unknown.
  • Kappy
    Fascinating. Reveals a woman of persistence, intelligence and determination in the face of many challenges. The narrative reveals once again the higher bar women had to meet and continue to face in order to do the work or live the life that they want.
  • Lucy Meeker
    What an amazing and fearless story of a trailblazing war hero and a resistance fighter during the Second World War, Virginia Hall was relayed in this wonderful book. She would takes risks where others would not. This was truly a well-written and captivating biography of a heroic woman. I highly recommend this book.
  • David
    5 stars or more for Virginia Hall, an exceptional person who overcame physical limitations and societal obstacles not to mention the Vichy French and the Nazis often with little else other than sheer force of will. Amazing. The storytelling is the drawback here the author writes a straight forward non-fiction narrative and avoids taking liberties with the available facts for the sake of a smoother story. I suspect the author did as well as one co...
  • Haley Nixt
    3.5*The content is 5 stars. This was an absolutely fascinating story, and I would love to go back in time and have dinner with Virginia Hall and just pump her for stories because damn. She would have some good stories. However, the reason I took off stars was the writing. While I finished the book in just a few days (this is a great subway read!) and it's very engaging while you're reading, it feels very surface level. I would have appreciated mo...
  • Peter A
    The author tells the remarkable and inspiring story of Virginia Hall, who overcame physical as well as social norms to be a leading force in France during the Second World War. Born into a family of above average means (in 1906, in Baltimore Maryland), she has a strong independent streak, and a sense of greater purpose in life. She joined the foreign service, and during a posting in Turkey suffered a self-inflicted hunting accident that resulted ...
  • Zeb Kantrowitz
    During the last three years of WW2, Virginia Hall did more than any other agent, MI6 or OSS, to battle the Germans, Vichy French (Milice) and cause sabotage across France. After the Allies landed at Normandy and the South of France, her guerrilla bands harassed the Germans and their French allies by blowing up bridges, roads, and supply columns, preventing many from making it to the Normandy front before the Allies broke out at St Lo.A tom-boy he...
  • Cathy
    Virginia Hall was undoubtedly a formidable woman. A woman who spied (extremely effectively) on behalf of both Britain and the U.S. during WWII, then became part of the fledgling CIA at its inception. Hall's story screams "Adventure! Intrigue! and Action!" And, akin to the saying of "Grace Kelly did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels", Hall accomplished all her feats - many of them physically taxing - with a prosthetic le...
  • Bobbi
    Virginia Hall's life is a study in overcoming obstacles. She wanted to be in the U.S. foreign service, but it was a time when women were viewed as being unworthy of such an endeavor. So she signed up to work at embassies around the world as a secretary. Injured in a hunting accident, she learned to walk with a prosthetic leg. Then WWII broke out. She convinced the British to let her go into France (a country she thought of as a second home) and o...
  • Tom
    A gripping story of a woman of great importance.Virginia Hall's life during World War II reads like several spy movies back-to-back. What she did was incredible, and her story needs to be heard. The irony of the title is that simply because she was a woman she was not properly valued for what she could do and did. Of course the Germans, at least initially, did not consider a lame woman as a threat either. (She had a prosthetic left leg.)The book ...
  • Cheryl Campbell
    If there was ever a book that exemplifies how one person can make a difference in the world, this is it. It is a tribute to harnassing your powers of observation, having innate people skills, an overarching sense of mission, and an astounding desire to learn new things. Virginia Hall is a classic for this history books, not just for this past century, but for all time. Her story is riveting, and well told. The book is richer for sharing the frien...
  • Dennis Hogan
    Finished A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell, the story of Virginia Hall, an American spy who worked as a radio operator and organizer on behalf of the French Resistance first with the British SOE and later with the American OSS after the British wouldn’t send her back after escaping over the Pyrenees from the Gestapo. A truly remarkable person, targeted by the Gestapo for ...
  • Sara
    An absolutely amazing woman. The risks she took, the lives she saved, her courage and stamina, all in the face of not only the Nazis but also the men she worked with who had real problems taking orders from a woman. Even the spy organizations she worked for originally assigned her to be a secretary until her astonishing abilities proved her worth----the reason the title is A Woman of No Importance. The Nazis certainly knew her worth and were avid...
  • Katherine
    Virginia Hall was next level, ahead of her time. She was a true hero, and I so happy that this book was written. This year I've noticed a plethora of historical fiction novels touting the role of women in WWII resistance efforts, but it's refreshing to read about a real woman thwarting Nazis with subterfuge, obfuscation, and general bad-assery. I'm both in awe of and indebted to Virginia Hall for her tireless, fearless, and committed bravery. She...
  • Thelma Fountain
    I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. This is a really fascinating story not just because of the amazing accomplishments this female spy/resistance worker did to help win the second World War. But because she did these things at a time when women were not usually given opportunities to do this kind of work. I really admire her resilience and her ability to overcome obstacles in her life such as her disability. This is a worthy read especi...
  • Kathleen Gray
    Up front- Virginia Hall is one of my personal heroes. She's not widely known, which is appalling because she was incredibly brave and devoted to mission. Hall was not really a socialite (although she was from a wealthy family). Service over self was a theme throughout her life and it's a message that's often lost these days. How she managed to create and run a network in France, escape the Nazis, and then go BACK- amazing. I wish that fans of his...