Book Review: Code Name Helene


Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon ~ 464 pages ~ to be published 3/31/20 by Doubleday Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

BASED ON THE THRILLING REAL-LIFE STORY OF SOCIALITE SPY NANCY WAKE, comes the newest feat of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia, featuring the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.
It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.


What I Thought:

*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.* 

Wow! This is such an amazing book! I went into Code Name Helene, honestly, just expecting another typical WWII historical fiction novel. This was totally fine with me because I love historical fiction. What I got was an absolutely amazing heroine who, bonus, was a real-life lady who was (pardon my French) a complete and total bada**! Nancy Wake is my newest role model, and I am never turning back!

Seriously, how in the world have I never heard of this woman?? She was an Australian immigrant who decided to join the French resistance when her French husband was called to the front. Even after he returned home, she kept smuggling Jews out of the occupied territories. She escaped when the Gestapo started to try to come after her. Then, she went back into France to work with the French resistance for a second time, with more than 7,000 men under her command. I mean, you can’t make up a woman who is more amazing, and she actually existed!!

Okay, now that I am done fan-girling about Nancy Wake, let me talk about Lawhon’s writing style. She really likes to use interesting timelines. In her novel I Was Anastasia, she wrote in two different timelines: one went forward in typical fashion, the other started at the end of the story and worked its way backwards, so that the two storylines met at the end of the novel. It was a bit confusing, but very intriguing.

Code Name Helene has two timelines, both moving forward in time. You get Nancy from the beginning of the war and see her evolution into the woman she is in the second timeline, which begins after she goes back to France to lead the army of resistance fighters. It was so much fun to discover things as the story progressed that were talked about in the other timeline. It was such intricate storytelling, and I am now really jazzed to pick up more of Lawhon’s books.

When you can’t stop thinking about a book and want to shout it’s praises from the rooftops, you know you have a great read! I cannot wait for the world to get their hands on this book. Nancy Wake deserves to have her story heard!


My Rating:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I gave Code Name Helene 5 STARS! This is a fantastic book for anyone who loves WWII history, as well as learning about amazing women in history.

Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below! 

Ariel Lawhon’s Website

Ariel Lawhon’s Twitter

Code Name Helene on Goodreads

Pre-order Code Name Helene on

Are you a fan of historical fiction? Have you ever heard of Nancy Wake? What other books about amazing women in history would you recommend? Let’s talk in the comments! 


Love and happy reading,

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Code Name Helene

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