Publication date: December 13th 2019
Genres: Adult, Historical
A must-read gripping adventure based on the true story of Nancy Wake, Gestapo’s most wanted. Soon to be a major feature film.
February 1933: Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-year-old looking for adventure. Having fled her unhappy family home in Sydney, she becomes a journalist and is thrilled when she is posted to Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and a growing number of refugees.
Later, in the French Riviera, she uncovers more than news following a chance encounter with wealthy industrialist, Henri Fiocca. Their relationship blossoms as Hitler makes waves across Europe. While on an assignment in Vienna in 1938, she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on the street and she vows to fight for justice if ever the opportunity arises.
When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris falls, Nancy flees the German oppressors and returns to Marseille.
A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network, despite Henri’s reservations. Soon she finds herself caught in a deadly game of espionage.
As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, neighbours denounce neighbours. When the enemy closes in, Nancy and Henri face an impossible choice. Has she done more harm than good?
Based on a true story, Madame Fiocca weaves an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption in wartime.
I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time.
The RMS Aorangi II steamed steadily on as I gazed forlornly at the fading shores of New York and the diminishing lady in copper, the Statue of Liberty. I tried to imagine how people fleeing persecution felt, glimpsing her for the first time from the icy waters of the Atlantic, relief swelling their hearts. Faces relaxing as smiles erased frowns and worry lines, butterflies flitting in their tummies as they stared in awe, visualising freedom, safety, and hope.
I had fled my home at the tender age of sixteen. Life turned upside down the day Dad left. I loved my dad, adored the bones of him. He always found time for me, scooping me up in his arms at the end of a day’s work, reading stories, making me giggle, singing ‘Waltzing Matilda’, and dancing. Every morning he went off to work, except for weekends of course, and every evening I’d wait by the garden gate. And then one evening he didn’t return home. And as I swung on the gate, Mum hollered at me to come inside for the twentieth time, and my older sister, Gladys, marched outside, a scowl glued to her face as she dragged me indoors by the hand.
‘Dad’s gone to America,’ Mum said, muttering something about him making a film of the Maoris. I didn’t understand back then. ‘When will he be back?’ But she’d already wandered away. I found her sitting at the kitchen table, the bible in front of her, a frown masking her face. ‘He’ll be back home in a few months,’ she snapped, before lowering her bulging eyes to the scriptures. Her coldness stung, and I missed Dad’s strong, warm arms around me even more. I used to lie awake at night, listening to the creak and groan of the staircase, my heart leaping as I wondered if Dad had come home. My elder brother, Stanley said all houses squawked in the night as they cooled down. It seemed to me that our home was miserable too.
We lived in a lovely spacious house in Sydney, having moved from our native New Zealand when I was two. I had five older siblings, two brothers, three sisters. They were wrapped up in their own lives, except for Stanley. He always found time for me, but he served in the navy and wasn’t home much. One day I noticed that the gilt-framed picture of Mum and Dad on their wedding day had vanished from its place on the oak dresser. No one said a word, and Mum became more distant, retreating to her bible reading. Right then I realised Dad was never coming home again. A hole opened up inside me, a hollow that ached, and I cried myself to sleep at night. And for a time, I would swing on the garden gate in the evening, looking out down the street, waiting, hoping for a glimpse of my dad. The Galah birds screeched as they settled for the night, roosting in the Jacaranda trees, and I never saw him again. One day, while I played in the garden, Stanley called me over.
‘We have to move, Nancy’ he said. ‘To a new house, not far from here.’
‘But I don’t want to leave this one,’ I said. Besides, if Dad did come home, how would he find us?
‘It’ll be okay, I promise.’ Stanley hugged me tight, swiped the tears from my eyes. ‘Be a brave girl. Help me get your things packed up.’
It wasn’t okay. Life with mum became unbearable so I ran away at sixteen, became a nurse and worked in a mental asylum. At eighteen, I returned to Sydney, found a job and a place to live which enabled me to get by, but I still dreamed of seeing the world. Then, a letter from Aunt Hinemoa arrived out of the blue. ‘Thinking of you,’ she wrote, with a cheque enclosed for a whole two hundred pounds! A lifeline. Mum never approved of her sister, who had run away with the captain of a whaling ship. Hinemoa was the black sheep of our family, like me, I suppose. So, like her, I decided to leave Australia and sail around the world. Canada, New York, and England beckoned.
Suzy Henderson lives with her husband and two sons in Cumbria, England, on the edge of the Lake District. In a previous life she was a Midwife but now works from home as a freelance writer and novelist.
While researching her family history, Suzy became fascinated with both World War periods and developed an obsession with military and aviation history. Following the completion of an Open University Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she began to write and write until one day she had a novel.
She writes contemporary and historical fiction and is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Suzy’s debut novel, “The Beauty Shop”, has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Her next novel, “Madame Fiocca” will be published in December 2019.
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