A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

Title: A Woman of No Importance
Author: Sonia Purnell
Genre: Biography
Rating: 4/5

“She gambled again and again with her own life, not out of a fervent nationalism for her own country, but out of love and respect for the freedoms of another.”

 Virginia Hall was an American woman who desperately wanted to help put a stop to the Germans in World War II. Although you would assume that any help was wanted, Virginia was continuously turned away at every foreign service because she was a woman and had a prosthetic leg. Eventually she landed a spot on the British intelligence where she was the first woman to deploy behind enemy lines in France. Virginia Wolf became one of the most successful spies in World War II. She provided information on German troop movements and coordinated attacks that helped win the war.

“Valor rarely reaps the dividends it should.”

Sonia Purnell did a great job researching Virginia Hall’s story and making sure every detail was correct. You will find many fine details that she included such as dates of events, names of people involved, and transcripts from coded messages. These details bring the story to life and make this book a great addition to a high school reading list. 

Towards the end of the book, you will also find a few pages of real photos of Virginia Hall and some of the attacks that she coordinated. I really like when biographies include photos because it reminds us that the book is a true story. After reading The Woman of No Importance, it was really interesting seeing real photos of the stories that I had read about and putting a face to the brilliant woman who used her perceived weaknesses as strengths. You will see in the photos that she is someone who would have been easily overlooked and rarely assumed to be an enemy spy. 

“The importance of looking natural and ordinary while doing unnatural and extraordinary things.”

This book highlights stereotypes for women and people with disabilities that were in place during World War II. Women were seen as being weak and unintelligent, their sole place being at home taking care of children. Similarly, people with disabilities were seen as weak and a nuisance. If it hadn’t been for the British Intelligence overlooking these stereotypes and offering Virginia Hall a role as one of their spies, the war could have had a very different outcome.

A Woman of No Importance was not a quick read since there were many complicated dates and names that took some effort to process. However, it was worth the time and effort to learn Virginia Hall’s story and remember that everyone can make a difference.

One response to “A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell”

  1. I really enjoyed this book, but I am kind of a history buff too and really enjoy non fiction. What really struck me about this book is how it captured the perseverance of Virgina Hall. What an amazing lady! Despite all of the obstacles that she encountered from the Germans looking for her because they knew how effective she was an an allied spy as well as all of the misogyny that she dealt with from her own allied forces, she continued to work endlessly to assist the allied forces. She was a true hero and I had sadly never heard or her before this read.

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