• A Woman of No Importance

  • The Untold Story of Virginia Hall, WWII's Most Dangerous Spy
  • By: Sonia Purnell
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best seller.

In September 1941, a young American woman strides up the steps of a hotel in Lyon, Vichy France. Her papers say she is a journalist. Her wooden leg is disguised by a determined gait and a distracting beauty. She is there to spark the resistance.

By 1942 Virginia Hall was the Gestapo's most urgent target, having infiltrated Vichy command, trained civilians in guerrilla warfare and sprung soldiers from Nazi prison camps. The first woman to go undercover for British SOE, her intelligence changed the course of the war - but her fight was still not over. 

This is a spy history like no other, telling the story of the hunting accident that disabled her, the discrimination she fought and the secret life that helped her triumph over shocking adversity.

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

©2019 Sonia Purnell (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"A rousing tale of derring-do." (The Times)

"Riveting." (Mick Herron)

"Superb." (Irish Times)

What listeners say about A Woman of No Importance

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    4 out of 5 stars

Perfect narration

I was familiar with Virginia Hall ( & Noor Kahn) having read Sarah Helm's book "A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII" in 2016.

I enjoyed getting to hear a much fuller account of her courage during WW11, and then her life after the war. To have given so much during the war and then to be side-lined afterwards must have been so hard .... and to have your mother not give her O.K. for you to marry the man you've been living together with off-and-on for years, until you're in your fifties.

This is the kind of book that encourages me to want to do more study about the character.

1 person found this helpful

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  • andrew james lilley
  • 04-05-19

Outstanding story of a remarkable woman

One of the most riveting and remarkable stories of courage and ingenuity in the face of incredible adversity.
Virginia Hall was a truly astonishing woman whose accomplishments put legions of her contemporary Male
collaborators and bosses to shame. She deserves to be celebrated and I volunteer to make a statue to commemorate her.I will ,listen to this book again and again for inspiration.
Since writing g the above review I have listened to this twice more.It is an amazing story that is very well written and beautifully read.It is the best audio book in my collection and believe me I have many hundreds.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Ellen
  • 04-02-19

Wonderful account of an amazing woman

Virginia Hall was an amazing woman, an effective and trailblazing SOE operative. Deapite being ruthlessly hunted by the German authorities continued to evade them all whilst organising effective networks and sabotage raids. Her work in Lyon turned her to the go to problem solver of many allied operatives, often compromising her own safety she helped them in whatever way possible. Often facing discrimination from top brass and resistance operatives on the ground due to being a woman but she was indefatigable.
At one point Virginia was forced to escape France via the Pyrenees when the Nazis seized the free zone. This would have been a feat of endurance for anyone let alone someone who had lost one of their legs.
As with most true hero’s Virginia was never given the respect or opportunities she deserved and had indeed earned after the war.
The book is very well written, much better than other books I have listened to. Highly recommend

10 people found this helpful

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  • Klara
  • 02-07-20

Surprisingly uninteresting

After having read quite flattering reviews of this book I was eager to begin listening. It didn't take long, though, before I lost interest. Over and over again I caught myself thinking of other things while listening. The narrator probably did her best but there was no "drama", merely a dry account of the main character's activities. As I have read a lot about wartime France and the resistance, I had hoped for a colourful and captivating story, but this reminded me of a school essay - talented but boring..

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-20-19

An astonishing, humbling story.

Brilliantly told, brilliantly read. The scale of Virginia Hall’s achievement is remarkable and the book is biography, history and thriller all at once.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Durston
  • 08-14-19

superb from start to finish .

Will live long in the memory. outstanding. led a life to the full . Thank you.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MellySchweppe
  • 07-11-21

Extraordinary

A truly extraordinary and inspiring woman but her story is utterly heartbreaking, devastating and infuriating. Very well written and read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-28-19

A true female hero if ever there was one

A really interesting and eye opening read about a truly remarkable woman who's accomplishments should be more widely known about, forget the vacuous Kardashians, this is a woman that we should encourage our children to aspire to be like; brave, strong and resolute.
Narration is good ( French accent a bit clichéd at times and the American a bit naff but not detracting from the story in the slightest) A really good read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JWW
  • 09-03-19

A disappointment

Virginia Hall was a truly remarkable woman, but this women’s lib hagiography read in monotone by Juliet Stevenson (of all people) does not do her, SOE or the secret services in WW2 justice. The facile assumptions eventually drove me up the wall. If you are interested in the real world rather than the author’s imagination this is not a book for you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs M E Burstow
  • 07-01-19

Put it on the National Curriculum

A disabled woman, who created and lead the Resistance in two regions of France, showing incredible courage and planming skills.

A wonderful listen. I had to keep on reminding myself all this was true and not just a story.

Virginia Hall truely deserves The Legion of Honour award.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Terryr
  • 06-23-19

Gripping, what a brave woman

Kept my attention from start to finish, how brave where all these people, As usual an awful lot of lives were lost do to the incompetence of people in high office, one of the best ZI have listened to and brilliantly narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-17-22

good story. very biased though, not a well rounded

good story. very biased though, not a well rounded, strongly favours the protagonist. anyone, or any situation that crosses her path/will gets harshly represented.

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  • Lauren Wilson
  • 03-17-22

Dreadful narration

This book started with excellent,historical refernces but,gradually deteriorated with a nauseating narration,constantly interrupted with appalling "accents". It was enough to turn me off completely,and,I was unable to complete the listen. Don't waste your time with this narrator. She ruined what could have been a good book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-22-21

A wonderful story of an amazing woman

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was always trying to make time to listen to it. A woman with such determination to help the Resistance in France throughout the war.
Joy

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  • Linda
  • 11-16-20

Incredible but true. Totally enthralling.

Exhaustively researched, engagingly written. Better than the best spy novel because it's true and about an unsung hero, a superwoman who was fearless, clever, and disabled.