Title: The Juliet Code
Author: Christine Wells
Published: April 30th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4.5 stars
It’s 1947 and the war is over, but Juliet Barnard is still tormented by secrets. She was a British agent and wireless operator in occupied Paris until her mission went critically wrong. Juliet was caught by the Germans, imprisoned and tortured in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch.
Now that she’s home, Juliet can’t – or won’t – relive the horrors that occurred in that place. Nor will she speak about Sturmbannführer Strasser, the manipulative Nazi who held her captive. . .
Haunted by the guilt of betrayal, the last thing Juliet wants is to return to Paris. But when Mac, an SAS officer turned Nazi-hunter, demands her help searching for his sister, Denise, she can’t refuse. Denise and Juliet trained together before being dropped behind enemy lines. Unlike Juliet, Denise never made it home. Certain Strasser is the key to discovering what happened to his sister, Mac is determined to find answers – but will the truth destroy Juliet?
Christine Wells brings us an immersive historical fiction tale based on the real life experiences of some of the bravest and unsung heroes of World War II. The female secret agent operatives, who parachuted into enemy lines in occupied France in an attempt to overthrow the Nazi war machine, constantly put their lives at risk. The Juliet Code works to uncover this secret history through the compelling story of Juliet Barnard, a wireless operator, come secret agent, who risked it all for her country and barely survived to tell her tale.
The Juliet Code opens in 1947, the war is now over, but it has left long lasting effects. Juliet, a former British secret agent, is haunted by the secrets of her past life in the war. We learn Juliet was involved in a highly dangerous mission in France, when she was captured by the Germans. Once captured, Juliet was subjected to a gruelling round of torture, interrogation and imprisonment. Juliet does survive this ordeal and the war, but the horrors of the war have left a permanent scar on her mind. She decides to keep the past buried so she does not have to face the painful memories of what happened in France. But when former SAS officer turned Nazi hunter Mac, seeks Juliet out and appeals to her for personal help in the search for his sister Denise, Juliet feels compelled to help him. However, in helping Mac get to the bottom of his sister’s final movements, Juliet will need to confront the painful memories of the war head-on. Can Juliet find it within herself to help Mac?
Christine Wells, the author of The Juliet Code, first came to my attention when she released her impressive debut novel, The Wife’s Tale, another fantastic historical fiction title based on real life events. Wells seems to have found her niche and with each book she has released she seems to be making a name for herself in the Australian historical fiction genre. The Juliet Code is a book that demonstrates Christine Wells’ skill as a writer for the historical fiction genre, her passion for the field and her growth as a writer. I enjoyed this one very much.
While researching the finer details for her last novel, The Traitor’s Girl, a World War II based title, Wells came across the stories of British agents who entered enemy lines in occupied France. These courageous agents tried to stop the Nazi’s and their grand plans. Wells gives a voice to these brave souls and perhaps forgotten heroes of the war. I really appreciated how Wells brought this aspect of World War II and in particular women’s history alive, shining an important spotlight on the female side of war.
It is apparent as soon as you start reading The Juliet Code that Wells has conducted a huge amount of research in order to bring as much authenticity to her story as she can. The Juliet Code is authentic and saturated in historical fact. It is also defined by pitch perfect period detail. I thought Wells did a fine job of immersing the reader in the specific time period of her novel, during World War II and the years immediately after. She captures the atmosphere, feelings and general frame of mind, especially by those such as Juliet, who survived the war but were left with many mental scars. The sections of the novel referencing Juliet’s internal anguish are the parts that Wells really shines as an author. She captures the psychology of these returned heroes of the war completely.
Although Juliet’s journey is heartbreaking there are moments of romance that offset this compelling tale. I appreciated the love story contained in The Juliet Code very much. It offered some hope, after so much despair. I also found the mystery and intrigue element to be extremely high in The Juliet Code. I found the process of trying to uncover what happened to Juliet during the war, the past she has worked so hard to put to the back of her mind and the case of Denise’s final fate highly engaging. The level of intrigue and suspense contained in The Juliet Code encouraged this reader to remain committed to the novel until the very end.
I would suggest taking the time to peruse the Author’s Note carefully composed by Christine Wells at the close of this book. I found it enlightening and it certainly added another dimension to this enthralling World War II title. It is well worth a read.
I do hope that Christine Wells continues to build on her success of The Juliet Code and her previous two novels. Wells is quickly establishing herself as an author to watch in historical fiction genre, her novels are a rich testament to our world history, populated by engaging leads and compelling narratives. I look forward to her next release.
P.S. I adored the cover of this book, the Eiffel Tower background, authentic French architecture overlay and wartime cover model image won this Francophile over immediately!
The Juliet Code by Christine Wells was published on April 30th 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Juliet Code, Christine Wells visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Juliet Code is book #52 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge