Title: The Juliet Code
Author: Christine Wells
Australian author Christine Wells has been making a name for herself writing intelligent, suspenseful historical novels.
Her latest offering, The Juliet Code, begins in 1947 when a young woman named Juliet Barnard is being interrogated about her role as an undercover wireless operator for the Allies in Nazi-occupied France during the war. She is wracked with guilt and remorse over the disappearance of a friend and colleague of hers, and so agrees to help her friend’s brother track down what happened to her.
The narrative moves back and forth between Juliet’s interrogation in Britain and her subsequent return to France, and the events of 1943 when Juliet was first parachuted into France.
At that time, she is young and naïve, but acutely aware of the danger if she should be caught by the Germans.
Eventually her luck runs out and she finds herself a prisoner. Unable to escape, drugged, tortured, and without memory. Juliet believes she may have betrayed her friends and country. This disloyalty haunts her.
She blames herself for the deaths and disappearances of other secret operatives, and so when an ex-SAS officer named Mac begs for her help to find his sister, Juliet reluctantly agrees – even though she is afraid of the horror of the memories it will rake up … and the chance she may find herself in danger again.
I love books about resistance fighters and spies in World War II, and The Juliet Code is a fine addition to my collection. I really liked the fact that Juliet was not a particularly good secret operative, but determined to do her part.
Her bravery, resolution, and quick wits prove to be more valuable than strength and ruthlessness. The tender love story at the heart of the book adds poignancy and warmth, without crowding out the true narrative arc – a story of an ordinary young woman who does her utmost to help and save those whose lives are torn apart by cruelty and war.
I also loved reading Christine Wells’ ‘Author’s Note’ at the end of the book which reveals the true-life inspirations for Juliet.