World War II is well underway. The French are hurting; cities are for the first time in worse shape than the country and former staples like coffee and sugar have become luxuries. No one–no one–is spared suspicion. Simon Mawer’s latest novel, Trapeze, follows Marian Sutro, a young woman raised in Switzerland now residing in England. Bored and languishing in a job somehow tangentially related to the war effort, Marian is recruited by a mysterious organization to be embedded as a spy in France.
This is a story that starts fast, with Marian zooming over the French countryside preparing to parachute into uncharted darkness. From there, it reverts to a flashback, the suspense building until we reach that scene again and swoop past into a tangled web of secrets and spies. The whole thing centers on balance, on the way Marian juggles identities and alibis, relationships and persons. As Marian teeters on the edge exposure at any moment, her perseverance, bravery and drive hold her afloat. Despite the danger below, Marian clings to her proverbial trapeze, balancing fear with bravado in her desperate need for purpose as war wages on around her.”