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Simon Mawer

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384 pages
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12 January, 2013
Simon Mawer
About the Book


Marian Sutro, barely twenty years old and just out of convent school, seems destined for privileged obscurity. Her father was a British diplomat, her mother a proper Frenchwoman, and her hometown was the placid Swiss banking city of Geneva. WWII turns the world upside down and the girl, whose family is now back in Britain, puts on a uniform to work in a tracking station for Royal Air Force bomber crews. It's at that point in Simon Mawer's marvelous new novel, TRAPEZE, that the really extraordinary stuff begins. Marion is approached by recruiters with Special Operations Executive which ran clandestine sabotage efforts in Europe and beyond during WWII. The SOE was not a spy agency: it sought more or less ordinary people who spoke the languages of occupied lands to live and work behind the lines, assisting resistance groups conducting sabotage operations. TRAPEZE benefits from its historical grounding, giving it the feel of authenticity that espionage novels sometimes struggle to establish. The most difficult problem that Marian faces is between her personality and her goals. It's a struggle with which many of us can identify as we try to reconcile who we are with what we must do, and this is a struggle that continues until the last sentence of TRAPEZE. You'll reach the last sentence with one big gulp, and certainly not long after you read the first sentence. I curled up with this book and didn't put it down til I had finished it.

About the Author

Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. Educated at Millfield School in Somerset and at Brasenose College, Oxford, he took a degree in biology and worked as a biology teacher for many years. His first novel, Chimera, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1989, winning the McKitterick Prize for first novels. Mendel's Dwarf (1997), his first book to be publish in the US, reached the last ten of the Booker Prize and was a New York Time "Book to Remember" for 1998. The Gospel of Judas, The Fall (winner of the 2003 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature) and Swimming to Ithaca followed. In 2009 The Glass Room, his tenth book and eighth novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Beyond the book

“Incorporating many of the finest elements of spy thrillers and even romance novels, Trapeze is a fascinating tale of and homage to the resistance fighters and members of the SOE.” – New York Journal of Books

“In a perfect combination of intrigue, romance, betrayal and incredible bravery, Mawer has, once again, as he did in The Glass Room, told a story that is factual and fictional with the edges blurred just so.” – Seattle Times