Cast No Shadow

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

CAST NO SHADOW is another well-researched book by Mary S. Lovell about the life of an outstanding woman. In STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING, she wrote about Beryl Markham, in THE SOUND OF WINGS, about Amelia Earhart. In CAST NO SHADOW, she tells the story of a woman with an assured place in society, who risked her position, her freedom, and her life to obtain secrets for the Allies during World War II.

Betty Pack is undoubtedly Lovell’s most complex subject to date. Born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, hence “Betty,” in 1910, she displayed her indifference to convention by early involvement in sexual liaisons. After her marriage to Arthur Pack, a British diplomat, in 1930, she again acted unconventionally by handing over a son to foster parents, presumably because he had been born embarrassingly soon after the wedding. Later, she was almost as casual in delegating the care of a daughter.

If Betty lacked maternal instincts, she had no deficiency in sexual appetites. These, along with boredom, seem to have motivated her career in espionage almost as much as loyalty to her cause. Betty was recruited for her work in prewar Poland, where her pattern of seduction and persuasion was established. The procedure proved to be just as effective in occupied France and in wartime Washington.

Lovell’s research into many documents previously unavailable has established Betty’s importance to the Allied victory. Even more impressive, however, is the biographer’s success in bringing to life a woman who, whatever her frailties, must be admired for her salient characteristics: intelligence, ingenuity, unshakable loyalty, and selfless courage.