The extraordinary untold story of one of WW2's most daring female spies.
Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, George Medal, OBE and Croix de Guerre, was the first woman to work for the British as a secret agent during the Second World War, a prototype for the women agents of the SOE, which had yet to be formed. Aristocratic and Polish-born, Christine was in many ways a difficult woman, but she was also one of the most daring female secret agents, at times exhibiting an almost psychotic longing for danger; the most adored, with a string of lovers; and the most effective, serving between December 1939 to May 1945, including periods in occupied Poland and France where an agent's life-expectancy was only six weeks.
The charismatic Christine was used to commanding respect and adoration and though not classically beautiful she nevertheless held a "mesmeric attraction" over men, from Polish war heroes and British secret agents to German Gestapo officers. Reputedly both Churchill's favourite spy, and the inspiration for Ian Fleming's Vesper Lynd, her life is extraordinary - and ended in her horrific murder after the war. And it's all the more interesting for being so little known.
Apocryphally dubbed Churchill s favorite spy and possibly the inspiration for Ian Fleming s Vesper Lynd, Warsaw-born Christine Granville (1908 1952) was the willfully independent daughter of a charming but dissolute and caddish Polish aristocrat and a Jewish banking heiress. In England, following Germany s invasion of Poland in 1939, Granville, armed with her gift for languages, her adroit social skills, formidable courage and lust for life, volunteered for the British Secret Intelligence Service and hatched a bold plan to ski into Poland from Hungary, via the Carpathian mountains, in order to deliver British propaganda to Warsaw and return with intelligence on the Nazi occupation. In other heroic feats, Granville parachuted into occupied France to join a Resistance sabotage network, bribed the Gestapo for the release of three of her comrades just two hours before their execution, and persuaded a Polish garrison conscripted into the Wehrmacht to switch allegiances. Getting short shrift from Britain after the war, Granville supported herself with odd jobs before becoming a stewardess on an ocean liner, where she met the man who would fall for her and become her murderer. Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) gives a remarkable, charismatic woman her due in this tantalizing biography. 16 pages of b&w photos & 2 maps.