A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell - Book Review


The book begins with Virginia's youth, telling how she happened to study in Paris and fell in love with France. In Turkey, Virginia accidentally shot her leg while hunting and was thus compelled to wear a prosthesis. This never prevented her from achieving her goals.

In 1940, just after the German invasion, she was so determined to have France live in liberty again. She's not afraid though she was a woman, and she had only one functional leg. On one circumstance, fleeing from France, she traversed the Pyrenees in winter. She set out on a mission. She works first with the SOE and then eventually with the OSS. Working very closely with French partisans, she arranged guerrilla groups and missions. Nuns, prostitutes, and a wide range of people from distinct social classes were the ones with whom she had contact.

She sees how her fellow citizens had been freed from prison. Safe homes needed to be set up. Radio messages were to be broadcast. She planned all elements of each mission in depth. Bridges had to be blown up, rail lines had to be destroyed, and phone lines had to be cut. All communications had to be significantly reduced. The German convoys have been targeted. The shipment of ammunition, food, and supplies to the Germans would have to be stopped, and the successive withdrawal of the Germans made it nearly impossible. The German intelligence has been sabotaged. Escape from the prisoners had to be carefully organized. All actively engaged risked their lives. 

The missions give the audience a clear image of the personality of Virginia. They are determined, smart, independent, self-controlled, brave, illusory, truthful, vocal, and caring.


During the Second World War, Virginia Hall was an American spy, mainly in France. After the war, she was awarded awards in the United States, Britain, and France. While Virginia's deeds during the war are the main focus of the book, her life after the war is also summed up. The story follows her life to her death.

Virginia doesn't let anything stand in her way. She seemed to be strong-willed, brilliant, and a great patriot dedicated to putting an end to the cruelty that plagued the world, especially those times of war in France. Her contributions were remarkable, indeed a significant asset in ending the war.

I appreciate the fact that, in recent times, ever more powerful women have been brought out from the shadows of darkness by marvelous authors. That their rightful place in history is now being commended and restored, at last, and acknowledged for their skills, abilities, and heroism.

The book is of unparalleled heroism and also highlights the many difficulties of strong women in the armed forces 'world of men.' Highly recommended to those who want to learn more about essential facts in the history of the Nazi regime.

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