Book review: Tightrope by Simon Mawer

TightropeTightrope by Simon Mawer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book at Bedtime:
A tale of love, betrayal and espionage as the political alliances forged during the Second World War give way to the moral uncertainties of the Cold War.

Marian Sutro is a highly successful British SOE operative working with the French Resistance. Then she is betrayed and imprisoned in Ravensbrück by the Nazis.

Returning to England a broken woman, she attempts to immerse herself in a normal life with a mundane job in London. However, the lure of the secret service and her desire to work for the greater good is never far away.

As the Americans test ever more deadly atomic weapons and the Russians join the frantic race to match them, Marian finds herself in demand by all sides with no moral compass to guide her.

She must walk an increasingly precarious tightrope between her beliefs, her profession and her desires.

Episode Two.
With the war in Europe finally over, Marian is contacted by her previous spy handler. Eleven-year-old Sam meets Marian for the first time when his family visits her parents.

Episode Three.
Marian goes on a date with an RAF officer. The atomic bomb is dropped for the first time. Marian and her scientist brother Ned are horrified at the implications of this act.

Episode Four.
Marian is called to Hamburg to testify against the Germans who worked in Ravensbrück concentration camp. Afterwards, she meets an intriguing Russian officer and his friend.

Episode Five.
Marian discovers a disturbing truth about her brother Ned. Meanwhile, Major Fawley attempts to recruit her back into the secret service.

Episode Six.
Marian runs into an old friend in Paris. The atomic age is advancing and Marian’s personal and professional life is getting increasingly complicated.

Episode Seven.
Marian and Absolon get closer – but who is using who? And who else knows about them?

Episode Eight.
Marian feels vulnerable without Absolon and unsure about who to trust. Then she receives some unexpected news.

Episode Nine.
Marian encounters a man from her past with disastrous consequences. She receives news that forces her to take action and make a plan.

Episode Ten.
Sam, now a young man, helps Marian put her final plan into action. Back to the present and she tells him what happened with the rest of her life.

Reader: Peter Firth
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Producer: Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk Production for BBC Radio 4.


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