A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII - Sarah HelmNo rating.

This is probably not a bad book, and probably well written with a lot of research behind it, but this book is not for me.
I was interested in Atkins because she was rumoured to have been the inspiration for Fleming’s Miss Moneypenny. Both the NYT and the Washington Post mention this in their obituary of Vera Atkins.

However, even if the rumour was based on some fact, from all I have read about Atkins, Fleming must have decided on a personality transplant from some other lady when he created his character… Atkins was no Moneypenny.

I really don’t think the book would be a bad read, but I think the various obituaries and articles on the Internet cover might cover the material that is known about her. At the beginning of the book, Helm acknowledges that little is know about Atkins and that Atkins destroyed many of her letters and other papers, photographs, etc. which would have been useful as a basis of a biography.

So, I’m not sure what the book could bring to the table and can only surmise that a lot of the information would be about the SOE, the fate of different agents that Atkins sent on missions, and Atkins’ own mission to uncover what exactly happened to each of these people.

At least this is what I gather from other reviews, and this is where I’m going to put the book back to the library. I would have been interested in learning about Atkins’ motivations etc. but it is made clear from the start that this is something that the author could not get a handle on, as this was something that Atkins did not want to talk about.

Anyway. Someone else might love this.


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