A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell

A Woman of No Importance

By Sonia Purnell

  • Release Date: 2019-04-09
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 874 Ratings



Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

“Excellent…This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR

"A meticiulous history that reads like a thriller." - Ben Macintyre

A never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine.

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her."

The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.


  • Fantastic

    By BTHS63
    This is a page burner; hard to put down. How awfully she was treated by so many of her male superiors. She was fearless and competent, with no female peers, behind the lines in occupied France during WWII. Young people need to read about this heroism to appreciate their lives today. How many men or women today have this courage, and conviction about the freedoms they so easily enjoy.
  • Compelling and enlightening

    By BizCoachk8823
    A look inside the French Resistance that is eye opening as well a documented story of the real beginnings of espionage and the trials of being female in a male dominated world.
  • A Woman of No Importance

    By diekii
    Fascinating book. Well written - it moves quickly and keeps the reader engaged.
  • Wonderful storytelling

    By politex
    Great storytelling that reads with all of the excitement of a best-selling spy thriller … because that’s precisely what it is. I found Purnell’s work both inspiring and instructive on many levels.
  • Great book

    By Sue5949
    A wonderful tribute! Well worth reading to find out more about a little known WWII hero.
  • Best Book I’ve Read In a While

    By Boof Tinkeboork Jr. III
    Even if you don’t like history, this book is absolutely worth reading. It is a shame that a true hero like Virginia Hall hasn’t gotten the proper credit she deserves for her courage and determination in the most dangerous of conditions.
  • Loved the book

    By Walkerjg
    Absolutely amazing woman
  • Could have been written better

    By dleyh
    Compelling story but read like a glut of factoids about Virginia. Author should have written this like a story, like Laura Hillenbrand and Unbroken, Cheryl Strayed and Wild, David Grann and Killers of the Flower Moon., Tara Westover and Educated... I love true-life stories but this was hard to get through.
  • Great Story

    By lindsay
    The story is fantastic ... I just didn’t care for the writing style. It was very wordy and just difficult to get through.
  • A Woman of No Importance

    By litcircle
    A great sense of immediacy: I felt as if I were there with the saboteurs and radio operators. At times I felt confusion with the chronology of events: so many activities occurring within a short period. War is confusing! Some parts reminded me of “The Alice Network “. Well researched. I enjoyed seeing the photos at the end of the book.