Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 4 out of 5 star ⭐️’s

This is a review of the New York Times Bestseller Madame Fourcade’s Secret War by Lynne Olson. I gravitated to this book as I love a good biography, and even more so than that I like to read about the lives of women—especially women who have overcome hardship, or who have lived bravely. For those of you interested in learning the details of historical events, and more importantly if you have an interest in learning about “unsung female heroes,” (Olson’s words), then this book would be a great choice to add to your reading list.

What is it about?

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War is a historical nonfiction biography about a young woman and mother in her thirties, Marie Madeleine Fourcade, who in 1941 became the leader of a spy network in France against Nazi Germany. Olson takes readers through the details of how she came to be the leader of the network– the Alliance, and illustrates how she coordinated the transfer of information while attempting to avoid capture, and with careful detail explains how she navigated her leadership position as a woman in what was previously only known as a man’s role. Olson reveals the chaos in which Marie Madeleine Fourcade existed in during the war, and provides details into her two captures, in addition to the tactics she used to avoid such outcomes–things like, moving her headquarters weekly, dying her hair, changing her overall look, and her identity. During this intense, frenzied time period Marie Madeleine Fourcade rarely saw her two children. Olson tells the action packed story of a highly empowered, motivated woman who would allow nothing to get in the way of her and the Alliance’s efforts.

The Good:

I enjoyed reading about Marie Madeleine Fourcade’s intense loyalty to her mission, and about the personal characteristics that made her the perfect fit for the position. Olson describes Fourcade as a strong, confident woman who had the ideal mix of will power and emotion to coordinate the organizations efforts and follow through with each mission up until the very end. The book has a women empowerment tone to it, and it shines through that the author is a feminist. I like the details Olson uses to paint a clear and vivid picture of Fourcade, and even more than that I like how she chooses to write about people who deserve to have their achievements shown to the world. Olson has several other historical books available that revolve around a similar theme.

The Bad:

This book is lengthy– too lengthy. It took me quite awhile to read the entire thing, and if I’m being perfectly honest, at times, it reads a bit dull. If I was even a little bit sleepy when attempting to read it I discovered that instead of revving me up and getting me excited to find out what happens next, it basically lulled me to sleep. It was a tricky one to get all the way through! I don’t want that to diminish Olson’s efforts or the information she shares, or suggest in anyway that I didn’t like the book. It just isn’t a page turner, and took some strategizing to get through. I am, however, grateful for the information I learned, and for Olson’s research and retelling so I had the opportunity to read and absorb the details of such an inspiring story.

My Takeaway:

This book is a story about a brave woman who up until now most people had never heard of. Olson explains that this is the case because at the time of her success it was basically unheard of for an author to write about a woman, even if she was a heroic woman. Before her passing, Fourcade wrote a memoir, and even that was never widely received or recognized. Olson felt a duty to celebrate Fourcade’s journey and triumphs and to share her story with the world. If you are into history, specifically World War II then I would highly recommend this book, and although long, it is definitely worth the read.

What did you think of my review? Do you plan to read the book? If so, why? If not, why? Have you already read it? If so, what was your reaction? I can’t wait to hear from you!