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Extended Audio Sample Trapeze, by Simon Mawer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,326 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Simon Mawer Narrator: Kate Readin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A propulsive novel of World War II espionage by the author of The Glass Room

Barely out of school and doing her bit for the British war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that makes her stand out—she is a native French speaker. It is this that attracts the attention of the SOE, the Special Operations Executive, which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. Drawn into this strange, secret world at the age of nineteen, she finds herself undergoing commando training, attending a “school for spies,” and ultimately, one autumn night, parachuting into France from an Royal Air Force bomber to join the Wordsmith resistance network.

But there’s more to Marian’s mission than meets the eye of her SOE controllers; her mission has been hijacked by another secret organization that wants her to go to Paris and persuade a friend—a research physicist—to join the Allied war effort. The outcome could affect the whole course of the war.

A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, Trapeze is both an old-fashioned adventure story and a modern exploration of a young woman’s growth into adulthood. There is violence, and there is love. There is death and betrayal, deception and revelation. But above all there is Marian Sutro, an ordinary young woman who, like her real-life counterparts in the SOE, did the most extraordinary things at a time when the ordinary was not enough.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Mawer’s wartime textures are extraordinary, and no page ever reeks of the library; his set pieces are so beautiful you want to read them two or three times over. He writes about fear—the way it sometimes nudges up against boredom—and about bravery better than any contemporary novelist I know; such is his precision, he seems more cartographer than novelist at times.”


  • “The great moments of the book, though—and there are many—are when the ostensible action stirs Mawer to a flight of imagining that channels pure literary adrenaline into making visible and audible, not just the concrete moment, but its bigger implications…This is why Mawer is a genuinely great contemporary writer.” 

    Financial Times

  • “Gripping and moving in equal measure…Marian’s story is unforgettable.”


  • “Where his last Booker-shortlisted novel, The Glass Room, gave an expanisve overview of a whole country over the course of 50 years, Mawer’s latest is a more intense and tightly-focused story. Radiating an atmosphere of tense suspicion and claustrophobia, it is utterly gripping from start to finish.”

    Daily Mail

  • Trapeze is a thoroughly engaging, well-researched novel…rich in historical detail…thoroughly gripping, informative, interesting. Mr. Mawer is a fine researcher and a wonderful storyteller. 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

  • “A fascinating WWII novel based in fact…Coming-of-age story meets old-fashioned tale of adventure.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Much-lauded British author Mawer vividly describes the deprivations in a war-occupied country and its once-vibrant capital and provides testimony to the courage of countless members of the French Resistance. But this is primarily a masterfully crafted homage to the fifty-three extraordinary women of the French section of the SOE on whose actual exploits the novel is based. With its lyrical yet spare prose and heart-pounding climax, this is a compelling historical thriller of the highest order.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A persuasive, exhilarating thriller... [in Paris] any Buchanesque bravado vanishes, with Marian living less by ingenuity than her wits in a dehumanised city...in the end it is...intense exultation and a kind of ambivalent fatalism that impels Marian.”

    Sunday Telegraph

  • A BookPage Book of the Day, May 2012
  • A New York Times Bestseller (extended list)
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Selected for the May 2012 Indie Next List
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Anne Hickling | 2/20/2014

    " Entertaining, fascinating plot premise, suspenseful. well-written. In short, probably the best novel I have read in a year. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Susan | 2/17/2014

    " Mawer has delivered another compelling WWII novel. While I thought The Glass Room was a stronger work, I thoroughly enjoyed Trapeze. The story follows 19 year old Marian Sutro, the daughter of a French mother and English father, recruited by British Special Operations to work behind enemy lines with the French resistance. This tightly focused espionage thriller makes for late night page turning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ayelet Waldman | 1/21/2014

    " I love a good spy story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lauren | 1/16/2014

    " One of the best books I have read in a very long time. I can not believe I left this book sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year... it is that good. Mawer weaves a captivating tale of a young woman's direct involvement as a spy during WWII in England and France. You will not want to put this book down! "

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About the Author
Author Simon Mawer

Simon Mawer is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Glass Room, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His other novels include The Fall, which won the Boardman Tasker Prize; The Gospel of Judas; and Mendel’s Dwarf, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. English by birth, he has made Italy his home for more than thirty years.