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Publisher's Summary

A rousing tale of espionage and unsung valor, this is the captivating true story of Vera Atkins, Great Britain's spymistress from the age of 25. With her fierce intelligence, blunt manner, personal courage, and exceptional informants, Vera ran countless missions throughout the 1930s. After rising to the leadership echelon in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a covert intelligence agency formed by Winston Churchill, she became head of a clandestine army in World War II. Her team went deep behind enemy lines, linked up with resistance fighters, destroyed vital targets, helped Allied pilots escape capture, assassinated German soldiers, and radioed information back to London. As the biographer of her mentor in the SOE, William Stevenson was the only person Vera Atkins trusted to record her story.

©2007, 2011 William Stevenson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    22
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Story - Unfortunately Monotone Performance

What made the experience of listening to Spymistress the most enjoyable?

The story itself. And the writing was brisk and informative.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Why, the Spymistress, of course

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Really a one tone narrator. Very little inflection. It was, literally, mono-tonous. It is really too bad because the story is very interesting, and one that needs to be told. It is quite remarkable that this performance was 'approved' by editors/directors. Sentence after sentence delivered with the same intonation contours. It becomes almost impossible to distinguish given and new information.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Only a strong reaction to the performance. I like the narrator's accent, but his lack of any kind of variation in delivery made listening a challenge.

Any additional comments?

I finished the book because I wanted to hear the story. And it was well told, just not narrated very well at all.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • david
  • houlton, wi, United States
  • 08-18-14

Disappointed

The disappointing part of this book is that it doesn't live up to it's title. Lots of info on the WWII spy network, but little about Vera herself. The narrator's fast talking and british accent made difficult to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Better read as a novel than as history

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I read a lot of WW II history and I did enjoy reading this. It's full of anecdotes I've never seen. However, it is not a serious history. The author seems more interested in name-dropping than telling a coherent story about Vera Atkins.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Stevenson again?

No.

Did Nicholas Camm do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

If there is any dialog, i missed it. No need to differentiate. I think he did a good job.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Spymistress?

NA. The book needs footnotes and sources. I am not sure what the Audible does when footnotes are encountered.

Any additional comments?

According to other reviews, CIA, goodreads, etc., the book is full of inaccuracies.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn't like a smart and tough woman?

...unless of course you're her enemy! We who live free owe a great debt to those who fought the secret wars, and the men and women that Vera led were some of the bravest and most determined fighters whoever lived. Thank you for telling their stories!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen
  • Kenilworth , IL, USA
  • 03-28-14

THE NARRATION IS A MONOTONE RACE

How could the performance have been better?

An editor who listened and directed the narrator to -SLOW DOWN- ADD INFLECTION-AND TONAL CHANGES. This is a very interesting book which I have started 3 times and simply can't follow much less think while listening. Having listened to 1000s of audiobooks, this is the most incomprehensible.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger- at the narrator who seems to make no effort to communicate-only to prove- he can read fast (without breathing?).

Any additional comments?

I wonder if it is possible to slow this file technically.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Unintelligible

What disappointed you about Spymistress?

The narrator was unintelligible. My wife and I couldn’t understand him at all. We’ve enjoyed books narrated by people with lots of different brogues, but Mr. Camm’s was beyond our ability to comprehend. So we couldn’t get much further than the introduction before we decided to forget about Spymistress (which may well be a good read) and find another audiobook whose narrator we could understand.

Would you be willing to try another one of Nicholas Camm’s performances?

No.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Boring!

i love spy stories that take place in. WWII, but this had little to offer and the narrator spoke too fast and with no inflection.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Griping story told badly!

The narrator was so dull & lifeless it was unnerving. Please have the narration of this wonderful woman's story redone by someone, preferably a woman, with a pulse!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

horribly read

a wonderful and exciting story totally ruined by the reader . he read in monotone without inflection, feeling or interest. I did not finish listening.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Bad writing, horrible audio, magnificent history.

William Stevenson packs the book full of details, but lacks structure. There is so much info here, so many names mentioned and connections made, it is fun to swim through but it's a pool of chaos. There are a couple of factual errors and a few bitchy snippets.
Nicholas Camm drones flatly, slogs monotone throughout. And it must be said, a reader who cannot pronounce 'Auschwitz', has no business narrating. Hearing 'Aushwhich' instead has stripped years from my life.
Fortunately exist scores of other books on the topic.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Laura Bennewith
  • Laura Bennewith
  • 03-05-17

Fascinating story

I struggled, at first, with the narrator - very flat. However, the story was so interesting and the pace so fast, that I kept going and in the end, I warmed to the narration style.

The foreword has very flowery language and the quotation from D H Lawrence did not surprise me but stick with it - the book is not so!

I recommend listening to this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Margaret Peyton
  • Margaret Peyton
  • 02-10-16

brilliant

the world needs to know more about these unsung heroes amazing woman and outstanding courage of the operatives

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jon
  • Jon
  • 09-18-17

Disapointing

Would you try another book written by William Stevenson or narrated by Nicholas Camm?

No

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Better research,

Would you be willing to try another one of Nicholas Camm’s performances?

No

What character would you cut from Spymistress?

N/A

Any additional comments?

The reader had the most mournful monotonous voice. The book is full of glib generalisations and poor research. Stereotypes and an over emphasis on the war against the Jews and Zionism. For instance he says the Nazis reintroduced antisemitism into France that had been banished by the French revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. He obviously had never heard of Dreyfus !

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dunblane1
  • Dunblane1
  • 08-16-17

A fascinating character who deserved better representation.

Found the narration so irritatingly hurried and toneless that it detracted from the book's content. Certainly cannot recommend as an audible book and will check in future before buying anything narrated by Nicholas Camm (who he?).

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ray
  • Ray
  • 06-12-17

Terribly dull narration -- a great pity, because content good.

We'll-written account of Vera Atkins' life but oh what a dreary, dreary narration! It would have been so much more enjoyable with a decent narrator. Worth listening to -- if you can stay awake!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Louise
  • Louise
  • 04-04-14

Racing to the end.

What would have made Spymistress better?

A slower pace. Could not keep up with the speaker. Had to really concentrate to understand.

How could the performance have been better?

Slower speech and more inflection in his voice. Sounder like reading a documentary.