The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, aka Trapeze

The novel has two titles, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky in the UK and Trapeze in the US. The US title was chosen to avoid confuson with another novel recently published in the United States.

Barely out of school and doing her bit for the war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that marks her out from all the others around her - she is a native French speaker. It is this that attracts the attention of the curious Mr Potter who, one day in 1943, calls her to an interview in an anonymous office in London. In reality Potter is a recruiting officer for SOE, the Special Operations Executive, which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. So it is that, at the age of 19, Marian finds herself undergoing commando training in the Scottish Highlands, attending a "school for spies" in the New Forest, and ultimately, one autumn night, parachuting from an RAF bomber into the South-West of France to join the WORDSMITH resistance network.

However, there is more to Marian's mission than meets even the all-seeing eyes of the SOE. Before she leaves Britain her mission has been highjacked by an even more secretive and mysterious organisation. For Marian could hold they key to the future of the whole war effort. As a young girl before the war, she was involved with a friend and colleague of her brother, a theoretical physicist called Clément Pelletier. Pelletier was working in Paris under Marie Curie's son-in-law Frédéric Joliot. At that time, the French were world leaders in atomic physics; indeed in 1940, shortly before the German invasion, they actually drew up a secret patent for an atomic bomb. Now, like Joliot himself, Pelletier is still at work in occupied Paris. Can Marian get from the South West of France across the country to the most dangerous city of all, the French capital? And can she persuade Pelletier to join the Allied war effort and spirit him out of France by light aircraft to England?

A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, is both an old-fashioned adventure story and a modern exploration of a young woman's growth into adulthood. There is violence and there is love. There is death and betrayal, deception and revelation. But above all there is Marian Sutro, an ordinary young woman who, like her real-life counterparts in SOE such as Violette Szabo, Nancy Wake or Noor Inayat Khan, did the most extraordinary things at a time when the ordinary was not enough.

Read the Reviews

Read the first chapter

Hear me on the Diane Rehm Show, NPR, discussing Trapeze

Listen to an ABC radio interview with me, talking about The Girl Who Fell From The Sky and Trapeze




The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, Abacus paperback, May 2013

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, Little, Brown UK

Trapeze, Other Press US


Simon Mawer 2008 - 2018. This website is written and maintained by the author.