The novel covers a twenty-year period beginning in 1942. Allison, a young woman in the British Women’s Army whose mother was German, agrees to become a spy. She is parachuted into enemy-occupied France and helped by the French Resistance to reach the German border, where she is met by members of the little-known German Resistance. Her job is to seduce a colonel who works in intelligence and who is involved in troop movements. The novel explores the effect of war on the lives of people while keeping its central focus on a determined, sensitive, maturing woman.
The novel covers a twenty-year period from 1942 onwards Allison, a young woman in the British Women’s Army and whose mother was German, agrees to become a spy. She is parachuted into enemy occupied France and helped by the French Resistance to reach the German border where she is met by members of the little known German Resistance. Her job is to seduce a Colonel who works in Intelligence and who is involved in troop movements. Everything is planned down to the smallest detail but then something unforeseen happens. Allison and the Colonel fall deeply in love. She goes to live with him in his house outside Berlin and during the next two years does the job she was meant to do. She frequently risks her life photographing documents and plans and passing the film on to her contacts. Despite the risks Allison considers the months she spends with the Colonel the happiest of her life. Yet it is a period that soon becomes clouded by divided loyalties, inner conflict and dilemma. Allison is ordered to take the Colonel’s life to save the lives of resistance workers. After much anguish she carries out the order but is traumatised as a result. For many years after the war has ended she struggles to come to terms with what has happened. In spite of several affairs, including a relationship with the British Major who recruited her to become a spy, she is unable to settle down. Allison returns to Germany ten years after the war is over and revisits the house where she lived with the Colonel, in an attempt to close that chapter of her life. While there she renews a friendship with Frieda, the housekeeper who still lives at the Colonel’s house, and from then on becomes a frequent visitor. Through this relationship she gains an introduction to and marries a cousin of the Colonel, a politician dedicated to working towards a union of European states. With him Allison finds happiness again as well as a purpose to her life. The novel explores the effect of war on the lives of people while keeping its central focus on a determined, sensitive but maturing woman.
Sheila Belbin was influenced by the experiences of her Franco-German friend who lived throughout the Second World War in German-occupied France. Sheila is a retired lawyer. In 2008, she married Dr R. Meredith Belbin, an international management consultant. She lives near Cambridge