Review: One Woman’s War by Christine Wells

Ya’ll should know by now that I am a sucker for basically any historical fiction, but I have a soft spot for war time historical fiction. This book has a strong espionage angle that I thought sounded interesting. I love spy novels and espionage, lately a lot of historical fiction novels include an espionage angle so naturally I gravitate towards book that include this.

When I saw this one come up for review, it was an easy yes. I loved that the real life story of Victoire Bennett, was the inspiration for the classic James Bond character, Moneypenny! For someone who loves spy novels, there can be no passing on a book whos character inspired such an iconic character in the Bond series. I couldn’t wait to check this one out.

Author Christine Wells, has written other books about women in resistance work throughout history and I felt excited to read this book even if she was a new to me author. I know that sometimes spy novels can be a big undertaking, but since Wells has experience writing historical novels where espionage and spying are the focal point, I had no problem saying yes to this one!


From the author of Sisters of the Resistance comes the story of WWII British Naval Intelligence officer Victoire Bennett, the real-life inspiration for the James Bond character Miss Moneypenny, whose international covert operation is put in jeopardy when a volatile socialite and Austrian double agent threatens to expose the mission to German High Command.

World War II London: When Victoire “Paddy” Bennett first walks into the Admiralty’s Room 39, home to the Intelligence Division, all the bright and lively young woman expects is a secretarial position to the charismatic Commander Ian Fleming. But soon her job is so much more, and when Fleming proposes a daring plot to deceive the Germans about Allied invasion plans he requests the newlywed Paddy’s help. She jumps at the chance to work as an agent in the field, even after the operation begins to affect her marriage. But could doing her duty for King and country come at too great a cost?

Socialite Friedl Stöttinger is a beautiful Austrian double agent determined to survive in wartime England, which means working for MI-5, investigating fifth column activity among the British elite at parties and nightclubs. But Friedl has a secret–some years before, she agreed to work for German Intelligence and spy on the British.

When her handler at MI-5 proposes that she work with Serbian agent, Dusko Popov, Friedl falls hopelessly in love with the dashing spy. And when her intelligence work becomes fraught with danger, she must choose whether to remain loyal to the British and risk torture and execution by the Nazis, or betray thousands of men to their deaths.

Soon, the lives of these two extraordinarily brave women will collide, as each travels down a road of deception and danger leading to one of the greatest battles of World War II. (summary from Goodreads)


This was a hard one for me to review. On one hand the story is compelling and interesting, but the characters were at times a struggle. I loved learning about how Mi5/Mi6 worked, as an American I know little about how other intelligence agencies work internally so I thought that was an interesting part of the novel. I love history and the historical context and exploration of the agency alone made this book worth reading. I really loved all the historical details and facts mixed into this book. As a big James Bond and Ian Fleming fan, I really liked this book, though one does not need to be a James Bond fan to enjoy this one. While I enjoyed the book on a historical and fan-girl level, there was on character that I could never really connect with and that was Friedl.

While I might not have love Friedl’s character, that isn’t to say her characters isn’t interesting. Friedl is a compelling and interesting character but I just didn’t like her. In the book she is a double agent and I had a really hard time with that and at times I found her a little to opportunistic, or maybe fake would be a better description—- since I didn’t trust her in the way I did with Paddy, I just had a hard time connecting with her throughout much of the novel. Paddy on the other hand was a great character who I loved but she was a little more predictable than Friedl which should have made me like Friedl better (I usually love a wild card) but something about Friedl  just put me off in the novel and I found myself enjoy Paddy’s character and chapters more.

This book does have a romantic aspect too. Most historical fiction novels have a bit of romance in them and I am totally ok with that. If you don’t enjoy romance in your historical fiction novels then this might not be the book for you but I think there was a nice balance between romance and history and of course espionage! If you enjoy historical fiction, I think this is a solid read. Interesting perspective with the James Bond character inspiration, interesting characters even if one is a little more unpredictable than the other, and a bit of romance. I enjoyed my time with this book and ended up giving it a 3 star rating. It was a solid historical fiction novel and I am looking forward to reading more by this author!

Book Info and Rating

Format: 384 pages, paperback

Publication: October 4th, 2022 by William Morrow and Co

ISBN: 9780063111806

Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow and Co, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: historical fiction


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