"D day is approaching. They don't know where or when, but the Germans know it'll be soon, and for Felicity "Flick" Clairet, the stakes have never been higher. A senior agent in the ranks of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) responsible for sabotage, Flick has survived to become one of Britain's most effective operatives in northern France. She knows that the Germans' ability to thwart the Allied attack depends upon their lines of communication, and in the days before the invasion, no target is of greater strategic importance than the largest telephone exchange in Europe." But when Flick and her Resistance leader husband try a direct, head-on assault that goes horribly wrong, her world turns upside down. Her group destroyed, her husband missing, her superiors unsure of her, her own confidence badly shaken, she has one last chance at the target, but the challenge, once daunting, is now near-impossible. The new plan requires an all-woman team, none of them professionals, to be assembled and trained within days. Codenamed the Jackdaws, they will attempt to infiltrate the exchange under the noses of the Germans - but the Germans are waiting for them now and have plans of their own. There are secrets Flick does not know - secrets within the German ranks, secrets among her hastily-recruited team, secrets among those she trusts the most. And as the hours tick down to the point of no return, most daunting of all, there are secrets within herself.
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1 . A WWII spy novel worth reading.
Posted February 13, 2010 by SBonner , AlbuquerqueWritten in the classic Ken Follett style of a group of women destined to alter the out-come of World War II. An easy reader that challenges you to slow down your reading pace to truly enjoy this book.
June 04, 2003
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Excerpt from Jackdaws by Ken Follett
ONE MINUTE BEFORE the explosion, the square at Sainte-Cecile was at peace. The evening was warm, and a layer of still air covered the town like a blanket. The church bell tolled a lazy beat, calling worshipers to the service with little enthusiasm. To Felicity Clairet it sounded like a countdown.
The square was dominated by the seventeenth-century chateau. A small version of Versailles, it had a grand projecting front entrance, and wings on both sides that turned right angles and tailed off rearwards. There was a basement and two main floors topped by a tall roof with arched dormer windows.
Felicity, who was always called Flick, loved France. She enjoyed its graceful buildings, its mild weather, its leisurely lunches, its cultured people. She liked French paintings, French literature, and stylish French clothes. Visitors often found the French people unfriendly, but Flick had been speaking the language since she was six years old, and no one could tell she was a foreigner.
It angered her that the France she loved no longer existed. There was not enough food for leisurely lunches, the paintings had all been stolen by the Nazis, and only the whores had pretty clothes. Like most women, Flick was wearing a shapeless dress whose colors had long ago been washed to dullness. Her heart's desire was that the real France would come back. It might return soon, if she and people like her did what they were supposed to.
She might not live to see it -- indeed, she might not survive the next few minutes. She was no fatalist; she wanted to live. There were a hundred things she planned to do after the war: finish her doctorate, have a baby, see New York, own a sports car, drink champagne on the beach at Cannes. But if she was about to die, she was glad to be spending her last few moments in a sunlit square, looking at a beautiful old house, with the lilting sounds of the French language soft in her ears.
The chateau had been built as a home for the local aristocracy, but the last Comte de Sainte-Cecile had lost his head on the guillotine in 1793. The ornamental gardens had long ago been turned into vineyards, for this was wine country, the heart of the Champagne district. The building now housed an important telephone exchange, sited here because the government minister responsible had been born in Sainte-Cecile.
When the Germans came they enlarged the exchange to provide connections between the French system and the new cable route to Germany. They also sited a Gestapo regional headquarters in the building, with offices on the upper floors and cells in the basement.
Four weeks ago the chateau had been bombed by the Allies. Such precision bombing was new. The heavy four-engined Lancasters and Flying Fortresses that roared high over Europe every night were inaccurate -- they sometimes missed an entire city -- but the latest generation of fighter-bombers, the Lightnings and Thunderbolts, could sneak in by day and hit a small target, a bridge or a railway station. Much of the west wing of the cheteau was now a heap of irregular seventeenth-century red bricks and square white stones.
But the air raid had failed. Repairs were made quickly, and the phone service had been disrupted only as long as it took the Germans to install replacement switchboards. All the automatic telephone equipment and the vital amplifiers for the long-distance lines were in the basement, which had escaped serious damage.