Young, Brave and Beautiful : The Missions of Special Operations Executive Agent Lieutenant Violette Szabo
SOE agent Violette Szabo was one of the most incredible women who operated behind enemy lines during the Second World War. The daughter of an English father and French mother, and widow of a French army officer, she was daring and courageous, conducting sabotage missions, being embroiled in gun battles and battling betrayal. On her second mission she was captured by the Nazis, interrogated and tortured, then deported to Germany where she was eventually executed at Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Violette was one of the first women ever to be awarded the George Cross, and her fascinating life has been immortalised in film and on the page. Written by her daughter, Young, Brave and Beautiful reveals the woman and mother behind this extraordinary hero.
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This book is a biography written by Tania Szabó about her mother the immensely brave Violette Szabó, an Agent Lieutenant in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and who was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Étoile de Bronze and posthumously the George Cross. In Tania's own words this is 'not a biography in the strict sense of the term, rather an informative and deeply researched reconstruction …'. It is about Violette, her life after joining SOE, her two missions in 1944 up until her gruesome death in January 1945. Violette had to make many difficult decisions, not least, that of leaving her daughter behind. She was stoic in manner and never wavered from her aim to help bring about the defeat of the Nazis. When she first met SOE officials she did not make a 'particularly good' impression and some were doubtful as to her abilities - how wrong they were!
Tania Szabó is a multilingual translator and language tutor who has a lifelong interest in researching the life of her mother and father, Étienne, who was a French-Hungarian Foreign Legion officer.
The reader is introduced to a girl who has immense innate courage but at the same time is a beautiful, clever, loyal and fun-loving person. Tania brings her mother alive and writes in a factually moving and heart-rending way. The story is told about Violette's bravery and intelligence, not only learnt through her SOE training but through her linguistic competencies and inherited manner. The reader is introduced to the intricate/challenging day to day lives of SOE and Résistance personnel in enemy occupied France and of the horrific life after capture.
The narrative frequently moves from the present to the past, which can be confusing. Tania has also purposely left her footnotes within the prose which, together with the incredible depth of information, makes the 400 page book seem more like a historical textbook. (Any person researching this period of history would find this an extremely useful book.) However, if one is to gloss over these intricate details, the 'story' is one very moving episode and Tania Szabó's book is highly worth a read.
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