Simon Mawer’s novel imagines the bravery and heroism required by the women who were recruited by the Special Operations Executive in Britain to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France during WWII through the eyes of Marian Sutro.
The slightly naive, but tenacious convent girl, Marian grew up in Switzerland and it’s her bilingual abilities that make her a suitable candidate for recruitment. Following intensive training in a remote area of Scotland and latterly at Beaulieu, in which she learns how to operate in covert espionage activities ranging from concealing one’s real identity to stealthy killing skills, she is then dropped by air into the darkened landscape of occupied s.w. France, somewhere between Toulouse and Limoges.
She has to make contact with her Resistance colleague, but ultimately her mission-within-a-mission is to make her way to Paris and find the physicist, Clement Pelletier, who also happens to be an ex-flame, and secure his transfer to Britain where he can continue his work on the development of the atom bomb.
Mawer captures the dangerous nature of the streets and boulevards of Paris at the time partly by drawing parallels with Alice in Wonderland, which helps convey the surreal atmosphere of the city and the unknowingness of whom to trust.
Indeed, Marian isn’t known as Marian for much of the novel, but changes from identity to identity as safety dictates and we know her alternately as Anne-Marie, Alice and Laurence Aimee. But for the majority of the novel, we know her by the nom de guerre of Alice.
For the semi-solid colourway, I first dyed the yarn a gunmetal grey, then overdyed it with an airforce blue and the result is a soft grey-blue reminiscent of French shutters.
Noms de guerre
For the variegated colourway, I wanted to capture the moonlit darkness of the French countryside when Marian lands on French soil. I randomly dyed gunmetal grey, airforce blue, a touch of khaki, lake blue, mistletoe green and a little teal formed where the greens and the blues met. The courageous pilots would have seen so very little other than the faint flash of the Resistance torches below.
The yarn type is a new yarn spun in Britain from British Bluefaced Leicester. I’ve called it Blimey, partly because it’s so British, and partly because you touch it and that might be your exclamation of approval!
You get 385m per 110g and it’s possible to get a pair of man-sized socks out of one skein with some left over.
Inspiration for December: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki