Name: Lise by Larry Loftis brings
to life the most highly decorated woman spy. The story delves
into how Odette Sansom displayed courage and patriotism while
having to endure endless torture by the Nazis.
"After I read the SOE training evaluation of her I knew
she was a force to be reckoned with. She was described as
temperamental, a loose cannon, arrogant, relentless, fearless,
and extremely patriotic. I think she was chosen because women
carriers were needed since men were picked up by the Germans
to be drafted or put in forced labor. There was also the need
for people who spoke French without an English accent, which
she did. She was captured because she was stubborn and did
not follow directions. But she more than made up for that
mistake by showing her bravery. She did not talk or give out
any information even after being tortured that included pulling
off all her toenails."
Born in France and living in England Odette decides she wants
to help with the war cause. Because of her knowledge of the
French language and customs, she was recruited into Britain's
Special Operations Executive Program to conduct espionage
on the Germans during WWII. Working closely with her commanding
officer, Peter Churchill, they are able to complete dangerous
missions. Peter became smitten with her and eventually they
fell in love while playing a cat and mouse game with German
secret police sergeant, Hugo Belicher. He takes advantage
of a mistake Odette makes and captures them, sending them
to Paris's Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration
camps in Germany where they're starved, beaten, and tortured.
Put on a list to be executed she and Peter are kept alive
by the Germans because of two lies she concocted. She pretended
that she and Peter were married (they would be after the war)
and that Peter was related to Winston Churchill, realizing
the Gestapo hoped to use her and Peter as a bargaining chip.
Loftis describes a scene in the book. "She is standing
up to a German general while she was still a spy. Instead
of being incognito and blending in she was visible, which
showed her fearlessness, but also her recklessness. In another
case, she slipped handcuffs off, while confronting a German
guard, which also showed her fearfulness and recklessness.
I have a book quote where she tells the concentration commandant
at the end of the war, ‘I want to know why you don't
open the gates of the camp. The war is over. It is useless
murder to keep people here.'"
This story delves into the details of what Odette had to endure.
In the face of grave danger, she shows her courageousness
and willingness to stand up to the Germans. Readers will not
want to put this book down. Loftis has the ability to write
it as a spy thriller instead of a dry biography.