Trapeze Summary

Marian is sitting in the fuselage, surrounded by metal and packages and assaulted by the noise. She had to be placed here half an hour ago because she was too encumbered by her parachute to walk up the ladder by herself. She wishes she could sleep like Benoit, the man sitting across from her. His eyes are closed and his head is swaying; sleeping whenever and wherever he can is one of the most infuriating things about him.

The young dispatcher makes his way to them through the clamor and opens the floor hatch, allowing darkness and cold to rush into the fuselage. Marian sees a town huddled below; Benoit opens one eye to see what is happening before giving her a quick smile and returning to his nap. The dispatcher tells her the city is Caen as he drops bundles of papers through the hatch into the darkness below. He does not believe the French read the flyers, but as long as the Germans think propaganda is all that the planes are dropping, they will not suspect that parachutists are also being dropped.

Suddenly they are being sprayed with flak from below, and the dispatcher laughs at the look of surprise on her face. He grins as if flak is nothing, and indeed it seems as if there truly is nothing important other than the roaring of the engine as the plane pitches and banks. Soon they are past it and the hatch is closed. Calmness lay ahead.

Later the dispatcher brings Benoit and Marian a thermos of tea and some sandwiches; Benoit eats hungrily but she is unable to eat at all because of her nerves. Her stomach muscles have been constricted since Vera told her that Trapeze was scheduled for the next moon, assuming the weather was good. As they made their final preparations at the airfield, Vera said Marian was pale and asked if she was all right. Marian assured Vera she was only pale because of the “damned English weather” and was just fine.

Now they are in France, and finally Marian is able to sleep awkwardly...

(The entire section is 606 words.)

London, Chapter 1 Summary

Mr. Potter, a rather distant man with a thin, querulous voice, thanks Marian for coming so far to see him and asks her to sit. It is clear from his manner, however, that he is merely being polite. It is a spartan room, containing only a table and two chairs; a bare light bulb hangs from the ceiling. She sits upright but relaxed as he smiles benignly, an undistinguished man. It seems to her as if Potter is a headmaster who is about to interrogate a difficult student, asking questions rather than delivering lectures and allowing the student to tie himself—or herself, in this case—in knots without any help from him.

His letter had asked her not to come in uniform, which seemed quite strange to Marian since everyone, it seems, is in uniform these days. Instead she wore a business-looking outfit: a navy skirt and jacket, a white blouse, her only decent pair of shoes brought with her from Geneva, and her last pair of silk stockings. Marian reminds Potter that he mentioned the ability to speak French, and he begins speaking it rather stiffly, as if it were not natural to him. She has always had a gift for language and responds, moving easily from English to French. The rest of their conversation is conducted in French, he with his “quaint formalities” and she with her “flutter of colloquialisms.”

Potter tells her the work is top secret and everything about it, including this meeting, must be held in complete confidence as part of the Official Secrets Act. He assumes she has already signed the Act because of her time in the WAAF, but he wants to be certain she understands. Marian signs the agreement again and then the real interview begins. He asks about her surname, Sutro, and wonders if it is Jewish. She tells him her father is Church of England, which created some difficulty when he married her Roman Catholic mother. The children were raised Roman Catholic. Potter is relieved that she is not a Jew, as there are more risks involved. When she asks why, Potter changes the subject.

He asks Marian how she acquired her second language, and she tartly replies that she did not acquire it at all: she simply learned to speak as everyone learned to speak any language. Her mother is French and they lived in Geneva. Marian spoke both French and English at her international school before attending boarding school for three years in England. Potter asks why they lived in Geneva, and Marian says her father worked for the League of Nations.

London, Chapter 2 Summary

Their second meeting was in the same place as the first, an anonymous building on Northumberland Avenue that was once a hotel, but this time Marian accepted Potter’s offer of a cigarette. She was not really a smoker but had picked up the habit while working in the Filter Room at Bentley Priory; besides, she feels it makes her seem older to have a cigarette in her hand. Though Potter knows her age, Marian still wants to appear older to him.

When Potter asks what she felt about their first meeting, Marian is non-committal. She shrugs and reminds him he told her nothing specific and the Inter-Services Research Bureau could be anything. Potter agrees and asks if she really meant what she said, that she loves France and wants to do something more directly for it. He looks at her for a long moment before asking Marian if she is prepared to leave England in order to pursue that goal.

Marian is quick to agree, assuming he means going to Algeria or some other place; however, he means going directly to France. She pauses, as if she had not understood him, and asks if he is serious. He is. The organization he represents trains people to work in France. There is no change in her manner, but Marian waits to hear more and feels a flutter of excitement inside her chest.

Potter finally speaks. He tells her it is dangerous work and her life will be at risk, but it will be of “enormous value to the war effort.” He asks her to consider taking this job, and she appears to be thinking about it. In fact, she had already decided to accept this opportunity after the last meeting, when she speculated that something extraordinary might be imminent. Marian tells Potter she would love to take this job and he smiles humorlessly, as if he were used to dealing with overenthusiastic children.

He tells her not to answer immediately, to think about it for the next week while she is on leave; leave is something almost unheard of for the...

(The entire section is 680 words.)

London, Chapter 3 Summary

The tall lieutenant colonel who seems to be in charge thanks Marian for volunteering for this task. They are in a place called Orchard Court, in which there is one bedroom with a bathroom and several sterile offices. The officer calls himself Buckmaster, which Marian thinks must certainly be a false name, and Buckmaster tells her he has written to her father. Since Marian is so young, he wanted to reassure her father that they will look after his daughter as best they can, though he is certain her father must understand the dangers of these kinds of missions.

Buckmaster’s physical appearance does not inspire much confidence. When Marian asks a question, he tells her it is best not to ask many questions, as the less they all know about one another the better off they will all be. He passes Marian off to Miss Atkins, an “elegant woman with a supercilious expression.” Atkins is clearly queen of this domain and she remarks that Marian is one of the youngest recruits they have ever had here. Though the Student Assessment Board decreed that Marian is too immature for the task, Atkins and Buckmaster have overridden their judgment and recommended her for training.

This is school and the lessons begin immediately. First, Marian is made an officer in the WAAF, as the organization prefers to have commissioned officers as students. It also likes its girls to join the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), an organization with which Marian is unfamiliar. Marian will wear the FANY uniform and begin as an ensign; the WAAF commission is for pay and status only, and she will now be a FANY in any public setting. She will be fitted for a uniform soon.

Atkins reminds Marian that everything from this point on in her training, as well as anything that has happened since her first meeting with Potter, comes under the Official Secrets Act. From now on, it is not just Marian’s work that is secret—her entire life is now secret. She must learn how to allay people’s curiosity without revealing the truth or awakening undo interest, making her job seem as dull and uninteresting as possible. Atkins suggests that Marian say she is beginning training as a liaison, given her language skills, but the organization prefers its students “talk pleasantly and say nothing.” Marian will be under constant surveillance, and people will be reporting her conversations and comportment back to Atkins. If she fails in any of this, Marian is not to feel personally discredited. What the organization is looking for is a very particular set of skills and gifts—and some of them are not particularly admirable.

London, Chapter 4 Summary

The hotel the organization found for Marian is in a quiet cul-de-sac on Regent Street. Most of the guests appear to be regulars, and the doorman greets her in such a way that she suspects, despite the demands for secrecy, he is quite aware of Marian’s situation. In her room, Marian hangs up her few belongings before looking closely at her new, unappealing FANY uniform.

It is too early for Marian to call Ned. She told him she was here in London with a little free time, and he had invited her to dinner. Marian would have take care not to reveal why she is here, which makes her wonder if her room contains hidden cameras or microphones. Buckmaster, Atkins, and their underlings seem to have the power to do whatever they...

(The entire section is 733 words.)

London, Chapter 5 Summary

Marian arrives at her brother’s house in a blackout and manages to find her way to his apartment where Ned hugs her in his gigantic, rather awkward way. He asks why she is in London, though he has talked to their parents and knows she has left the WAAF and is doing some kind of training.

Ned’s apartment is like him: rather rumpled and careless and crammed with all kinds of things. He brings her a gin and Marian does not refuse the drink because that would make her a girl again and she is, for the first time in front of her brother, a woman. She tells him what she is doing is top secret and besides, he never tells her what work he is doing. In fact he has told her. He is working on...

(The entire section is 656 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 1 Summary

Marian’s journey to Scotland is filled with the inexplicable stops and starts which are typical of wartime travel. Occasionally the train moves decisively forward; at other times it stops for no apparent reason. She is in a private train compartment which has Inter-services Research Bureau written on the door. The conducting officer is a Scotswoman named Janet, and she is in charge of an oddly diverse group of passengers.

One passenger is a middle-aged man named Emile and another is a young Canadian named Maurice who claims to speak French but really only speaks a disjointed kind of Quebec dialect. The third passenger is Yvette, a drab, diminutive woman who is glad to have another woman on the train with her. She...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 2 Summary

The four passengers spend the night in a hotel near the train station in Glasgow. Marian and Yvette share a room and do what they are probably not supposed to do: they talk about their private lives. They speak in French, which acts as a kind of code, allowing them to speak more freely than they otherwise would.

Yvette confesses that all she cares about is going home, whether the Germans are there or not. She is clearly feeling lost as a displaced European whose uncertain command English makes her someone to be pitied as one of the dispossessed. She and her husband fled south a few days before Paris fell to the Germans, making a foolhardy but successful journey to Spain. Yvette’s husband joined the war effort and was...

(The entire section is 611 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 3 Summary

Moeble Lodge is a “curious mix of military camp and university reading group,” full of pipe smoke, tweed, and whiskey. After dinner, the staff watches how well the students handle alcohol, or at least that is the students’ speculation. Almost everything the students think they know about the Special Operations Executive organization is the result of rumor, speculation, and imagination which fills the void created by secrecy. In the face of this common enemy, the students are united in their discomfort and deprivation as they train on the outside course.

Every morning they are awakened early to do PT exercises on the front lawn and then eat a breakfast of bacon and eggs, items which most people have forgotten since...

(The entire section is 580 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 4 Summary

Time passes and students spend hours training on a wide variety of weapons, learning how to strip, clean, and reassemble their weapons as well as how to shoot from every possible body position. The shooting range is a simulation of a town in which silhouettes of “malignant men” are randomly levered up to attack the students. They are taught to respond with instinct rather than aim, and they are taught to kill with their second shots if their first shots are not successful. Marian finds it odd to discover that she shoots unerringly, and the instructors encourage her to show the men how accurate, instinctive shooting should be done.

Training in demolition follows weapons training, and their instructor is like a child...

(The entire section is 423 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 5 Summary

Marian lies awake and thinks about killing. In the abstract, killing is acceptable; even killing in theory or once-removed is fine. She remembers being in the Filter Room with dozens of other WAFFs crowding around a map as calls came in through the radar stations. The women placed markers on the maps with great excitement and even placed some wagers; each marker represented the deaths of seven men, and it was exhilarating to follow the path of destruction on the map. Five thousand or so lives were lost as the women drank their tea and waited while the killing continued.

This was a distant killing which could not be seen or heard as it pulverized German cities. Marian understands that what the organization’s instructor...

(The entire section is 475 words.)

Scotland, Chapter 6 Summary

The students have a free day and Marian and Yvette decide to climb the mountain hovering over the lodge. In the beginning, it was their greatest torment; now the two women climb without fear. Even Yvette has grown strong, transformed from a timid city dweller to someone who can trek through the harsh Scottish terrain.

They look down from the top of the mountain, and Yvette says she is afraid the trainers will fail her. She wonders why they have had no training for cities and towns where people actually live. They speak as if they will be sent somewhere together, but it is not likely. After the war, Yvette supposes she will live in France and find another husband to be a father for her young daughter. She teases Marian...

(The entire section is 798 words.)

England, Chapter 1 Summary

While on leave with her parents, Marian’s father’s first question for her is what her new uniform looks like, but she is dismissive and says she has been transferred to the FANY, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. He says he did not think she was studying nursing, but Marian interrupts him to say that FANY does many things. When he wants to ask more, she simply tells him it is best for him not to ask. Her mother thinks she looks thin, but Marian insists she is fit, not thin.

Her parents both want to know how Scotland was and where she will be going next, and she would love to be able to tell them the truth: she is going to Parachute School, followed by B School (whatever that is), and then into the field. Instead she...

(The entire section is 569 words.)

England, Chapter 2 Summary

Parachute School passes by quickly and in a blur of sensation for Marian. Initially students jump from ten-foot walls; then they rocket down tall slides. Eventually they swing from harnesses hanging from cranes in a hangar and land on mattresses and coconut matting. Finally they ascend in a tethered balloon before dropping five hundred feet to the ground. For Marian, parachuting offers the same exhilaration as skiing. It provides a surrender to gravity and a heart-stopping breathlessness that offers a fleeting glimpse of dying.

At the end of the week, students don their parachute harnesses and climb awkwardly into an old Whitley bomber. As they fly over Tatton Park, the students all line up inside the fuselage until it...

(The entire section is 348 words.)

England, Chapter 3 Summary

All pretenses about what students are preparing for are gone at Beaulieu; they are training for a clandestine life. This is a school for spies. Marian is given a field name—Alice—and this is how she will be known from now on. The name is fitting since she often feels like Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole.

The school is housed in a large country home hidden in the middle of England’s New Forest; however, everything is conducted in French. Every conversation and bit of reading material is in French, making Marian feel as if she has been dropped into a house party in a remote French chateau. The manor is slightly dilapidated and the other guests are a motley collection of people who know only that...

(The entire section is 604 words.)

England, Chapter 4 Summary

The training at B school ends with a four-day scheme, a portentous event for each student. Marian’s scheme is to invent her own cover, travel to Bristol, find a place to stay, and accomplish a series of tasks.

Her first assignment is to make contact with an agent operating in the city; then she must set up cut-outs and dead letter drops before taking steps to recruit likely people who might be able to provide useful information regarding aircraft manufacturing in the city. In this scenario (Marian refers to is as her charade), the British police are her enemy. They have been informed that there may be an enemy agent in the area and Marian must evade capture.

Marian, as she often does, makes a kind of joke...

(The entire section is 635 words.)

England, Chapter 5 Summary

On the last day of her scheme, Marian is arrested. Half a dozen men come to her boarding house in the middle of the night, bang on the door, and barge past the landlady’s weak attempts to stop them. The men drag Marian, struggling to put on her overcoat, to their waiting car and drive to an anonymous house where she is handcuffed to a chair. Underneath bright lights she is interrogated for hours; they want to know who she is and why she is here.

They have taken her overcoat, and now she has nothing on but her nightgown. The lights are in her eyes so she cannot see her interrogators, but she feels naked and violated, as if it is their hands as well as their eyes which are focused so intently on her. Marian answers...

(The entire section is 437 words.)

England, Chapter 6 Summary

Miss Atkins says that Marian conducted herself well at Beaulieu, tolerating both her arrest and her interrogation without wavering from her cover story. She looks up and smiles bleakly before telling Marian she is going to recommend that Marian be deployed immediately to the field, and she will leave in the next moon period. Her circuit will be Wordsmith, in the southwest of France.

Marian feels a quick rush of fear and excitement, but she realizes she will not be anywhere near Paris. Ned’s idea that she might be able to see Clement evaporates in a “cloud of relief and disappointment.”

The organizer she will be working with is one of the most successful agents. His field name is Roland and he has been...

(The entire section is 793 words.)

England, Chapter 7 Summary

After all her briefings and appointments, Marian takes the evening train home to Oxford. She is rather bewildered by the ups and downs, the twists and turns her life has taken. In one part of her life she is being trained by the organization and its tricks, puzzles, half-truths, and lies. In the other part of her life she is at home around people and things that are stable and certain. The only thing that carries over from one life to the other is her ability to lie.

She tells her mother she has been told to prepare to go overseas, to Algiers or perhaps Morocco. The organization has been vague with her, but she needs some suitable clothes—and by the way, Benoit will be coming to visit for several days. Of course her...

(The entire section is 425 words.)

England, Chapter 8 Summary

Like everything else, Brasenose College has been taken over by the military. Marian stands uncertainly at the gatehouse and wonders why she is here, feeling again like Alice in Wonderland. A man in a sports jacket and flannel pants steps out of the shadows before holding out his hand and giving a small half-bow. He introduces himself as Peters and says she is looking a bit more dressed than she was at their previous encounter.

He looks rather too old and stooped to be an active military man, and she wonders if there has been some kind of misunderstanding. He assures her that they have met before, though their meeting was mostly one-sided. He was a witness to her interrogation in Bristol.

Marian is shocked at...

(The entire section is 799 words.)

England, Chapter 9 Summary

When Marian returns home from her clandestine meeting with Peters and Fawley, she asks her mother about the nuns; but her mother asks which nuns she means, as if there are flocks of nuns wandering around the city. Marian remembers she and the other students used to call the nuns crows and warn one another whenever a crow was coming their way. When students heard the warning, they would quickly hide whatever illicit activity they were pursuing, such as reading a forbidden book—or writing an illicit letter.

She is talking about the nuns at the boarding house, she tells her mother, and her mother wonders what her daughter wants to know about them. Marian asks if the nuns contacted her about the letters she and Clement...

(The entire section is 411 words.)

England, Chapter 10 Summary

Marian and Ned are walking outside. She wants to be outside where she does not feel trapped, hoping her anger will ebb and calmness will take its place. When she mentions Fawley, Marian can tell that Ned knows him; he tells her Fawley was involved in getting Kowarski and Halban out of France in 1940. Fawley obviously wants Clement, as well, but all Ned will say is that Clement is wanted for the war effort.

This infuriates Marian, and she points out that anymore, every single thing is part of the war effort. He calmly tells her that swearing is not very ladylike, but Marian reminds him that she has been taught to kill and there is no more lady in her. Once Marian would have entrusted Ned with her life; however, something...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

England, Chapter 11 Summary

The Cambridge train is full, just as all trains are full now with soldiers, airmen, men in dark suits with carrying mysterious briefcases, and academics in ill-fitting flannels and tweed jackets. Marian asks Ned whose idea it was for her to contact Clement, and he admits it was his; he is hoping she will be more persuasive in person. She tries to convince Ned to tell her who is behind this mission, but Ned smiles, shakes his head, and looks out the window before telling her she knows he cannot tell her that.

Cambridge seems more fragile than Oxford. Marian and Ned walk up a lane to a medieval gate behind which is Cavendish Laboratory. The porter acts more like a butler, “obsequious and knowing.” He knows they must...

(The entire section is 621 words.)

England, Chapter 12 Summary

Marian waits at the Paddington train station and thinks about Alice in Wonderland, “adrift in a sea of dreams,” as she ponders Kowarski’s ominous words. She is relieved to see Benoit coming through the crowd in his Free French uniform. As they walk along the platform to the Oxford train, Marian thinks of him as a lifeline to France, a straightforward man who has no connection to or entanglements with Clement and what he may or may not do.

Benoit hugs her and teasingly asks if she was in London with one of her many lovers. Marian explains that she was with her brother doing all the tourist things; she wonders if she will tell him the rest of what happened on her visit to London. They talk the entire ride to Oxford,...

(The entire section is 761 words.)

England, Chapter 13 Summary

After everything is still and her parents are in bed, Marian sneaks down the hall to the spare bedroom. Moving noiselessly in the dark and opening doors without being seen or heard is something she has been trained to do. Once inside the dark room, she whispers and asks if he is there. He is.

Marian makes her way across the floor, again silently, and removes her nightgown before slipping into bed next to Benoit. She lay on her back, very still, until he whispers her name as an endearment; then she puts a finger on his lips and silences him. Though she wants this to happen, she wants it to happen to someone else. She can be Alice Thurrock or Anne-Marie Laroche, but she cannot be Marian Sutro.

Benoit makes...

(The entire section is 471 words.)

First Moon, Chapter 1 Summary

Colonel Buckmaster’s guest is known as Sir Charles; he is a tall, elegant man, “polished to a shining smoothness.” Buckmaster introduces him to Marian as “CD.” She does not understand and thinks he is calling Sir Charles “seedy.” Sir Charles smiles, for that is the last word he would use to describe himself, and he agrees that “CD” is not the most flattering acronym. He is the head of the organization and he is pleased to meet Marian, as her name has been mentioned in the highest circles of the organization.

Marian is confused both at his delight and at the mention of “highest circles.” On the train she had made the decision to resign from this work, as her private life has now become entangled...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

First Moon, Chapter 2 Summary

The organization’s holding center resembles an elegant country hotel. The furnishings inside the red-brick building are rather shabby but comfortable. Music is playing and drinks are available at the bar. Because the weather has been bad, a backlog of agents is waiting to leave on their missions. Emile is one of them, propping himself against the bar and pontificating on whatever he can to whomever will listen. Others avoid eye contact with him so they will not be drawn into his current lecture about meteorology, but Marian cannot escape.

Emile is surprised to see Marian, surprised that she survived the rigorous training at Beaulieu. He says she is headstrong, and Marian asks if that is a bad thing. He tells her it is...

(The entire section is 407 words.)

First Moon, Chapter 3 Summary

The code name of Marian’s operation is Trapeze, and there is a code name for everything, including Marian (Florist) and Benoit (Milkman). This morning Trapeze is at the top of the schedule, despite the many other operations which have been waiting to go.

Emile complains and wonders what is so special about Milkman and Florist, but Marian ignores him. In the briefing room a flight lieutenant points to a map of France and talks to them about the weather; if the fog lifts this afternoon Marian and Benoit will be leaving, though the weather conditions in France are unknowable.

As the two of them are leaving their briefing, Benoit apologizes to Marian and says he “was a pig.” Marian is dismissive and says...

(The entire section is 790 words.)

France, Chapter 1 Summary

Marian is flying and falling, just as she does in her dreams. It is dark and she is plunging quickly and it is cold. She gasps with the shock as the world spins around her. Below, Marian glimpses a sliver of shiny water and some trees. The earth is a dull black while the black sky is luminous and the moon swirls around her. Suddenly she hears the crack of her parachute and a sound like a sail filling with a sudden wind. She dangles in the wind for a moment as the “black bulk of the aircraft” roars on as it drops its second parachutist. Benoit’s parachute billows out like a giant white jellyfish in the darkness.

Now the ground, which has been so far below, is suddenly upon her, and she rolls in the grass as she has...

(The entire section is 431 words.)

France, Chapter 2 Summary

It is a long walk for Marian and the Frenchmen who retrieved her, but they finally arrive at a rustic farmhouse on a hillside. She is ushered in and greeted warmly by a woman and five men in blue overalls. Suddenly her theoretical name has become her real name. She is now Alice.

Later Benoit arrives, looking grim and glum. He had landed in a tree and the men had spent an hour cutting him loose. Benoit has little patience for such indignities and only scowls when he is greeted warmly by his field name, César. Marian suddenly sees Benoit as the young boy he is, someone who “finds older people tiresome and younger people tedious.” When the others ask what is wrong, Benoit grows even more petulant.


(The entire section is 735 words.)

France, Chapter 3 Summary

The morning is cold and crisp, the sunlight sparkling on the ice crystals from the first autumn frost. England does not have such days; there it is always foggy and dank and raw. When Marian comes downstairs, Benoit is still sleeping on the “broken couch in the corner of the living room beneath a pile of blankets and overcoats.” When Marian greets him he grunts and complains that he did not sleep all night, as if he is scolding her for robbing her of the same refreshing sleep she enjoyed.

Benoit speaks to her in English, but when Marian reminds him they should be speaking French he says he wants the others to think he is English. He is supposed to train them in arms and explosives, and these men think all Frenchmen...

(The entire section is 624 words.)

France, Chapter 4 Summary

Lussac is a small market town with remnants of something greater scattered around the town. For the first time, Marian walks the streets in France alone. While the sun is bright, there is something dark about the people. Though she only gets looks of indifference, it seems to her that people should be looking at her oddly, as if she is a trapeze artist who has suddenly arrived from the sky and certainly does not belong here. She is alone and she continues walking to the address she was given.

As she knocks on the door, Marian is still surprised that there is no password. An elderly woman opens the door and looks down on Marian with suspicion, so she says what she was told to say: Gaillard sent me. Panic begins to well...

(The entire section is 636 words.)

France, Chapter 5 Summary

The Boss arrives on his bicycle the next day. No one refers to him by his field name; he is always le Patron. Marian is not sure what to expect, but whatever she imagined, he is not it. He is a “short, nervous, sour-looking man with a toothbrush mustache”—an unkempt toothbrush. Somehow she thought he would be better, though she could not have said exactly how.

He looks at her from head to toe as he welcomes her; then he laughs at some unspoken joke before offering her a cigarette. She refuses and he approves, saying that women do not get cigarette rations. The Boss’s face is worn and tired with weariness, a look Marian recognizes from the bombing days in London. The rescue workers who pulled bodies...

(The entire section is 795 words.)

France, Chapter 6 Summary

The name of the farm and surrounding area is Plasonne. It is a small, secluded valley near the town of Lussac, and le Patron assures her she will be safe and happy here. It is only a thirty-minute ride to town, and the farm couple will treat her well. They have been told she is from France and, whether they believe the story or not, she will maintain her story.

Albert and Sophie have two sons. Ernest lives on the farm with them and is simple, though he has an innate sense of what is good and bad; fortunately he believes Marian is good and says her name, “Anne-Marie,” with a sense of wonder. Their other son is in Germany working in some factory, and every two weeks they receive a standard, impersonal form...

(The entire section is 760 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 1 Summary

Gaillard’s rough men are gathered around the farmhouse table; they are looking at a map Marian has marked. Gaillard points at a spot and says they will meet Marcel’s group at the Bonnard place, near a reservoir. They will have to use a cart to move the supplies to the nearest road. It is not an ideal situation, but it will attract no attention. When the men complain about how far away the site is, Gaillard says they will use it because it is the place Marian has determined to be safe for a parachutage.

Marian explains that a water landmark gives the pilot something by which to navigate because it shines in the moonlight and is a recognizable shape from the air. This is her first parachutage and it...

(The entire section is 601 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 2 Summary

Marian is meeting with le Patron at Mercey’s house in Lussac, and she is not happy about such an obvious meeting. She would much prefer the cut-outs and dead letter drops she was taught at Beaulieu, but the Boss dismisses her objections by saying that the organization in London does not know anything about real field work.

They are meeting in the same back room Marian stayed in when she first arrived and has stayed in several times since. Those first days of nervous excitement and anxiety seem like part of her history now, part of the memory of Anne-Marie Laroche. He is gruff when he asks her about the parachutage, decrying Marcel’s men as a group of communists who cannot be trusted. When the end...

(The entire section is 560 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 3 Summary

After le Patron leaves, Marian stands at the window and thinks of Clement and Fawley. Her heart is racing, her mouth is dry, and she is beginning to sweat; and she wonders which emotion she is really feeling at the thought of going to Paris. It may be excitement, fear, or both. Then she thinks of Yvette, the girl who had become a mother and a widow too early and who cried because she thought she was not good enough to be sent to France. Marian wonders what role Yvette will play in this unfolding drama.

Marian rides to Plasonne to let Sophie know she will be gone for a few days to see a friend. As soon as she mentions Paris, Marian regrets it, for Sophie’s face immediately shows her fear. In Lussac, Gabrielle...

(The entire section is 468 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 4 Summary

Marian sleeps fitfully, and in her dreams she is in Paris with Ned, Yvette, Madeleine, and Clement. Clement smiles at her and reaches out his hand to her. Sometimes Paris turns to London, and once she and Benoit are in bed together. In dreams everything is possible, and sometimes Benoit transforms into Ned and finally into Clement. She wakes with a start at five thirty.

Marian stealthily goes downstairs to boil some water and uses the hard bar of soap, her only option, as she shaves her legs. She applies makeup for the first time in months and then corrals her unruly hair into a chignon. At last she files her nails and applies a blood-red nail polish. She has transformed herself from a country girl into a woman suitable...

(The entire section is 419 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 5 Summary

On the bus out of town, Marian is certainly out of place, but she does not care because she is traveling to Paris. A woman going to the market in Auch slides over to make more room for Marian to sit, as if the woman’s ordinary work clothes might somehow damage or dirty Marian’s fine outfit.

The gendarme checks Marian’s documents and gives her an appreciative nod as he returns them to her. The overcrowded bus heaves its way out of the town square, past the church, down the bridge, and onto the main road. Marian is overcome with excitement at the thought of going to Paris and leaving behind the drudgery of the countryside. For the past weeks, she has expended significant energy, and leaving her new country friends...

(The entire section is 267 words.)

Second Moon, Chapter 6 Summary

Marian’s journey is much like every journey she took in England since the war, full of fitful movements and inconsequential stops. Also in her cabin are two middle-aged men who look like government officials and an ancient, bejeweled woman with rheumy eyes. The old woman complains about the rugged conditions while the men try to ignore her, knowing that criticizing the system is likely to be dangerous. People listen and report such things in hopes of advancing their own circumstances, but this querulous woman does not appear to be concerned.

Marian reads until more passengers enter the compartment. She is squeezed against the window by a large man in an overcoat with a massive suitcase. After he heaves the suitcase...

(The entire section is 617 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 1 Summary

German soldiers have tables positioned at the end of the train platform and they are rifling through people’s baggage. Lines have formed and only a few people are waved through; everyone else has to go through the line. Marian stands in line, feeling the crystals in her womb. It is a slow move forward until Marian at last reaches the front of the line.

She puts her suitcase on the table and opens it. As the soldier begins his search, Marian stands indifferently, though she is waiting for him to find the wireless valves. Her heart is thumping loudly but her mind is calm. The soldier does find the valves and asks her about it. Marian shrugs and says she is bringing them to a friend who wants to listen to German radio...

(The entire section is 780 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 2 Summary

The house is on a run-down street near the place d’Italie, an “area full of narrow, sloping lanes and crowded cottages.” Rain glistens on the pavement and there is a small café on the corner next to the shell of a print shop. Paris is now a city inhabited by ghosts: the ghosts of young men, Jews, communists, and socialists. A wanted poster offers a reward for any information regarding a specific terrorist, and Marian wonders if she is a terrorist. “Presumably she is.”

At number 45, Marian sets down her suitcase and rings the bell, conscious that she may be watched and has no viable cover story. Just as she begins to wonder what she will do if no one is home, a man inside the house asks who is there....

(The entire section is 654 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 3 Summary

After leaving place d’Italie, Marian takes the metro and surfaces at the barracks of the Garde Republicain. She feels like a girl with a suitcase, an insignificant nothing, and begins walking, going by her memory of the street map she has in her pocket. Her training says she should always know where she is going, always move with purpose, and always have a reason for what she is doing. Despite that, Marian has no clear reason for what she is doing now.

At one point she stops and looks into an empty shop window, checking to see if anyone is following her but mostly to flex her sore shoulders. Finally Marian stops at a café, eating some horrible soup and keeping her face buried in a book. All she wants to do is think,...

(The entire section is 791 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 4 Summary

Marian walks away from the black car without hesitating or appearing to be lost, but lost is how she feels. She finds the address she has memorized, and one of the doorbells reads Pelletier, Apartment G. She takes the elevator to the top floor of the building and stops before the imposing door of apartment G. A sourish maid answers the door and answers Marian’s question: Mademoiselle Pelletier is not home and when she will return is unknown.

Marian understands she must win this woman’s confidence and says it would have been so nice to surprise mademoiselle. Marian discovers Clement is home, explaining she is an old family friend and used to worship him. The maid goes to get him as Marian waits in the...

(The entire section is 817 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 5 Summary

This morning seems different, and all of yesterday’s fears and threats have receded. They will undoubtedly return, but for now Marian is feeling calm and quiet. She tiptoes down the hall to the bathroom to wash, and Clement knocks on her door when she is half dressed and just finishing her hair.

His expression is part amusement and part contrition, as he admits she was right about regretting last night’s conversation and apologizes. Marian continues getting dressed for the day but is nervous that he is watching her. She is going to look for Yvette today, and Clement makes her promise she will not leave Paris without telling him. He invites her to go to the theater with him tonight but does not insist when she...

(The entire section is 766 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 6 Summary

Marian carries the battered suitcase and hates that it could be as deadly to her as a bomb if anyone asks to inspect it. The ugly bag sits on the floor at her feet as she rides the metro, lugging it through the tunnels when she has to change trains. One man offers to carry the heavy bag for her, but she jerks her hand away and from the corner of her eye sees that the man is a military officer. She thanks him for the offer, and he observes that the suitcase has become a kind of symbol of the times. So many people are now carrying their entire lives in their suitcases.

Marian does not respond, praying the train will arrive soon; when it does, the officer enters the same car as she and sits down on a seat across from her....

(The entire section is 623 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 7 Summary

Marian tells Clement about the officer on the metro, and their conversation is comfortable and relaxed. Something in her wants to feels the anxiety and caution she was trained to feel, but all she feels is “an absurd and childlike happiness in his presence.” The most dangerous illusion of all is her feeling of safety.

She asks if he read the letter on the key she gave him. He shrugs as if it does not matter and explains the difficulties he went through and the ingeniousness of the device until Marian interrupts to ask what it said. He is flattered by Professor Chadwick’s words, but he is not certain exactly who wants him and for what purpose.

As they walk to the theater, Marian asks Clement...

(The entire section is 797 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 8 Summary

Marian goes to a café, orders coffee, and asks to see le patronne. The waiter is hesitant until Marian says her aunt in Marseilles sent her. After speaking for a few moments on the phone behind the bar, he tells Marian she will have to wait. The café is quiet and nothing extraordinary is happening. The waiter does not know how long Marian will have to wait.

Le patronne arrives thirty minutes later, a middle-aged former beauty with a faint look of concern on her face. They speak in code: Marian says her aunt Régine in Marseilles sent her, and the woman says she has not heard from her aunt in some time and wonders how her rheumatism is. When Marian tells her it only acts up when there is a sirocco,...

(The entire section is 711 words.)

Paris I, Chapter 9 Summary

Clement watches as Marian drags the suitcase out from under her bed, opens it, and stands back so he can see the wireless machine inside. He stares at it as if it were some new type of laboratory equipment before asking Marian if she really knows how to use it. She hopes so and asks what she should tell the organization in London.

Clement says he told his colleague Fred about the letter from Chadwick, and Marian is outraged. When Clement tells her Fred can be trusted with his secrets, she is angry that now Fred will be keeping her secrets as well. Fred only knows vaguely how Clement got the letter and claims he would go himself if he did not have a wife and children to keep him here. He believes Clement should...

(The entire section is 703 words.)

Toulouse, Chapter 1 Summary

Marian takes the train to Toulouse and for her it is like arriving in a completely different world, almost like stepping onto an entirely different continent. It is warmer here than in Paris and she feels no fear. Though there is danger here, too, it is a danger she can see and fight, like an infection; the fear she felt in Paris was like an incurable cancer eating at her from the inside. From Toulouse she takes the regional train to Lussac and, though she is light-headed from lack of sleep, Marian feels as if she has come home.

Gabrielle Mercey is thrilled to see her and asks about the food, the people, the fashions, the crowds, and the sights. In passing, Mercey mentions that Roland is trying to contact Marian. When...

(The entire section is 407 words.)

Toulouse, Chapter 2 Summary

Le Patron is standing in the corner of Mercey’s kitchen and shouting at Marian. He is upset, accusing her of “gallivanting around in Paris” when he needed her here. Marian was afraid of the Boss when she first arrived; he seemed more terrifying to her than even the Gestapo. Now, however, she sees him for what he is: “a small man in a fearful position,” attempting to keep the forces around him from crushing him in an instant. He is also human, seeking comfort from Mercey’s devotion.

Marian speaks back to le Patron, reminding him she did not go to Paris for her own amusement or pleasure; she was sent there by the organization with a specific job to do. He is disgusted that they did not drop...

(The entire section is 677 words.)

Toulouse, Chapter 3 Summary

Marian gets off the train in Toulouse and goes immediately to the safe house she has used before; the couple who owns the apartment is a railwayman and his wife. They bought the apartment for their son who was planning to get married; however, he was sent to work in Germany and now the apartment sits empty most of the time. The wife tells Marian that Benoit was asking about her, and Marian says to tell Benoit that she is here.

The apartment is sparsely furnished, and as Marian goes to sleep on the bare mattress she takes comfort in thinking about Benoit. He represents normalcy. She can understand him, and it is easier to love something she understands.

Benoit arrives the nest day and lets himself into the...

(The entire section is 586 words.)

Paris II, Chapter 1 Summary

This time Marian is neither intimidated nor awed when she gets to Paris; instead she is confident and intent on her task. “Paris holds no new fears,” though there are plenty of familiar fears. She still feels the thrill of her interlude with Benoit and wonders if he has erased her feelings for Clement and if she is in love with him. These thoughts are distracting, and she does not realize she is being followed until she emerges from the metro station.

She is more angry than fearful, angry that she did not see him earlier and that she has more questions than answers. Marian walks toward the Panthéon and stops to examine something in a second-hand shop. In the reflection of the shop window, Marian sees her follower...

(The entire section is 742 words.)

Paris II, Chapter 2 Summary

Marian’s new identity is Laurence Follette from Bourg-en-Bresse in the department of Ain. She is in the Pelletier apartment waiting for Clement, like a patient in pain waiting for the doctor. She is relieved when she finally hears the front door open and goes to greet him. Clement must see it in her face, for after he hugs her and tells her how much he missed her, he holds her at arm’s length and asks what is wrong. Deciding to tell him the truth, Marian tells him she was followed from the station and now they know she is back in Paris.

Marian says she does not know exactly who her follower is; she thought he was some kind of a pimp but now she wonders if he might be working for the Germans. Because of the...

(The entire section is 568 words.)

Paris II, Chapter 3 Summary

The café is no different than the last time Marian was here. She feels the weight of the pistol in her pocket as she asks again to see la patronne. The man behind the bar calls for Julienne and soon Claire appears, looking worried and suspicious but giving Marian a faint smile of recognition. She invites Marian into her office, and everything is the same. Marian wonders what she should be looking for, what the signs of betrayal and treachery are.

The arrangements for the pick-up have been made for the day after tomorrow assuming the weather is good. Marian will need to see Gilbert for the details. She remembers having a conversation in London with the Colonel about Gilbert, and now Gilbert is expecting to see...

(The entire section is 775 words.)

Paris II, Chapter 4 Summary

At the metro station, Marian loses anyone who might be following her and goes to the café near Yvette’s apartment. She hands the man behind the counter a letter for Yvette.

Marian waits in the cemetery, but Yvette does not come. The rule of a rendezvous is to give a time which is an hour later than the intended time, and Marian wonders if Yvette understands that. Marian wonders if she will come at all or is she will come alone; she wonders if she is being watched.

Marian sees a frail figure, stooped as if she were already “an old crone.” Yvette is alone, but she glances sideways. Marian tells Yvette she was followed yesterday and asks Yvette if she has betrayed her. Terrified, Yvette grabs Marian’s...

(The entire section is 813 words.)

Paris II, Chapter 5 Summary

Marian makes her way through the streets and alleys of the city, like an animal slinking through an open field full of predators. Military vehicles roar past her, crowds gather in the darkness, and she hides in doorways until she joins several girls walking and speculating about what might be happening to cause all the military fervor. The girls theorize that the Germans are searching either for Jews or communists. Marian separates from them at the river and is stalked by fear until she finally arrives at Clement’s apartment and the door shuts behind her.

Clement hugs her and tells her she looks like a complete mess, and he wonders what she has been doing. She tells him she had to give away Madeleine’s coat; he is...

(The entire section is 570 words.)

Third Moon, Chapter 1 Summary

Marian dreams again, but she does not dream she is falling. This time she is running: running through alleys, running away from people, and killing people who will not lie down and who speak to her in incomprehensible voices. Sometimes in her dream she sees her parents and Ned, and once she sees Benoit. All of the alleyways where she is running have no way out; they are all blocked and she is trapped. In another part of her dream something more dangerous is happening. She is lying naked as Clement explores her body and calls her beautiful. Marian knows she is not beautiful.

She wakes in the darkness and feels Clement next to her. Whatever inner voices she was hearing are gone now, and Marian slides out of bed, crossing...

(The entire section is 314 words.)

Third Moon, Chapter 2 Summary

Marian tells Marie that she will be leaving today and going back to the southwest. Marie does not say much, just nods and says she is sure that is for the best. The maid will be leaving before lunch to tend to her mother and explains she will return later to prepare Clement’s evening meal. By the time she returns, though, all she will find is a letter from Clement explaining that he has also left, that he has left money for her, and what she should say if anyone asks about him. She is only to say that Monsieur Clement has gone to the country for a while and has left no forwarding address.

Marian knows the maid will assume that Clement left with her, but Clement does not care. Marie will also tell Madeleine, who will,...

(The entire section is 587 words.)

Third Moon, Chapter 3 Summary

The College laboratory van is waiting for Clement and Marian; others are travelling with them, and the woman passenger does not like Clement going on a weekend trip with a woman who is not his wife. She and Clement talk of their research and Marian feels like “an intruder in a foreign world.” The driver asks if anyone heard about last night’s shooting in Belleville. Someone has been arrested for the crime, but the authorities are still looking for a woman. Marian tries to feign indifference to their discussion.

The van arrives uneventfully at Ivry-sur-Seine within half an hour. The weather is brisk and clear, and the pair stands on the platform with a “bedraggled collection of people” waiting for the train....

(The entire section is 790 words.)

Third Moon, Chapter 4 Summary

At Azay-sur-Cher station, they find four bicycles are waiting as planned. Gilbert wheels the spare one with him as they ride, saying they will need it for the incoming passengers. For the first time, Marian thinks about the other side of this operation. People will be arriving, perhaps people she knows from her training. They will be arriving from a different world, a world in which there is no fear, no watching and following, no bounty on their heads.

They ride into the growing dusk through the quiet land. Some of it is arable, some of it is woodlands, and some has been set aside for grazing. The moon is now shining through the trees, and after several kilometers they turn off onto a bumpy farm track until they stop at...

(The entire section is 535 words.)

Third Moon, Chapter 5 Summary

Gilbert, Clement, and Marian wait. Clement puts his arm around Marian and holds her close. Marian hears the aircraft first, and soon Gilbert hears the plane, as well. Gilbert points his flashlight into the air and flashes the letter M; the answer comes back from the plane, and Gilbert says this is it.

Marian turns the first light on the first stake before stumbling to the second. As she crosses to the third stake, the plane thrums in the darkness above her. Marian hurries back to the waiting men and sees the Lysander moving against the night. The landing lights come on for a moment, shining like spotlights in a theater, and the three on the ground are exposed in the glare. Then the plane flies past them before the...

(The entire section is 608 words.)

Vierzon Summary

Marian is sitting in a compartment on the train with two other passengers, but she is alone. Though she tries to stay awake, weariness overtakes her and she sleeps, hearing the sound of an airplane and then waking with a start. The other passengers are reading and Marian watches the scenery pass.

Marian wonders what the future will hold for her and Clement, wonders how much these kinds of relationships last. Perhaps they will meet again as mere friends, or perhaps they will still feel “this breathless desire.” The future is tainted with the war and is almost irrelevant. The only thing that matters is this train rumbling through the French countryside.

By now Clement is in England, and Marian wonders how...

(The entire section is 747 words.)