Code Name: Lise (Loftis)

Code Name: Lise: The Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy
Larry Loftis, 2019
Gallery Books
384 pp.

An extraordinary true story of Odette Sansom, the British spy who operated in occupied France and fell in love with her commanding officer during World War II.

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France.

Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.

As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations.

He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher. With this amazing testament to the human spirit, Loftis proves once again that he is adept at writing “nonfiction that reads like a page-turning novel” (Parade). (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Larry Loftis is the author of the nonfiction spy thrillers—Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy (2019); and Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov—World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond (2016).

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Mr. Loftis was a corporate attorney and adjunct professor of law. He received both his B.A. and his J.D. from the University of Florida and currently lives in Orlando, Florida. (Adapted from the publisher.)

Book Reviews
Larry Loftis tells it again for a new generation, reweaving the usual account of her wartime activities into a kind of nonfiction thriller.… Mr. Loftis’s writing is frequently difficult to tolerate. He takes a story that is already dramatic and tries to make it more so with cheesy coats of romance and horror.… Fortunately, febrile prose can’t undercut the sheer power of Sansom’s story and of Sansom herself.
Elizabeth Winkler - Wall Street Journal

Extraordinary bravery… made this woman one of World War II's most remarkable spies. That she survived the war was almost miraculous.

Written in the style of a thriller, this is a thrilling account of the exploits of World War II’s most highly decorated spy, Odette Sansom.
Daily Mail (UK)

Loftis gives Sansom the eipc story her experience warrants, full of spycraft, complex and important missions, incredible feats of bravery, and love.

With evident sympathy, Loftis tells a well-researched, novelistic story of a heroine and patriot.… Swift and entertaining, Loftis’s work reads less like a biography and more like a thriller (photos).
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) Reading like a thrilling spy novel and the most exciting sort of non-fiction—well researched, well written, and fast paced enough to keep the pages turning—this will interest fans of the history of espionage, World War II history, military history, women’s history, and biography.
Library Journal

A true-life thriller centers around a defiant woman who spied for Britain.… [T]he author creates a readable page-turner about Odette's dangerous missions.… A vivid history of wartime heroism.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for CODE NAME: LISE … then take off on your own:

1. What prompted Odette Sansom to leave her husband and three young daughters and sign up with SOE?

2. How would you describe Odette? The evaluation following her SOE training referred to her as a loose cannon, arrogant, relentless, and fearless. Do you agree with any/all of those descriptions? What adjectives would you add?

3. Why did SOE recruit Odette? What qualities made her potential spy material?

4. The SOE training program Sansom underwent proved rigorous. How do you think you might have fared? What part of training would you have found most difficult?

5. What do you make of Peter Churchill and the couple's love affair?

6. Talk about the mistake Odette made which resulted in her capture by the Nazis.

7. In what way did her childhood illnesses—polio and blindness—help prepare Odette for the horrific ordeal as a Nazi prisoner?

8. Why didn't the Nazis kill Odette and Peter?

9. Of the many incidents, close calls, lies and ruses, which stand out to you most—in terms of Odette's bravery and cleverness, in terms of danger or recklessness… or anything else in particular?

10. Would you have signed up for the SOE? Would you have been capable or willing to undertake the role of a spy in Nazi occupied territory?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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