The best books about WW2 and women of the Special Operations Executive [S.O.E.]

Who am I?

My name is Joy Gerken pen name Joy M., Lilley. I live in Kent, England with husband Michael and our three rescue cats. We have four children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. I began writing in 2013 after retiring from a long nursing career. My list is multi-genre, I like to both read and write books from all genres. It broadens my horizons and helps me focus more clearly on my own writing. I recommend all five books to you as I have enjoyed the reading of them all.

I wrote...

The Liberty Bodice

By Joy M. Lilley,

Book cover of The Liberty Bodice

What is my book about?

Gloria, our protagonist is a gifted young woman from an impoverished background. She has a penchant for languages; this makes her a suitable candidate to join the women of ‘Churchills Secret Army’ the Special Operations Executive [S.O.E.] her feats in occupied France required hardship, tenacity, and great courage. She is captured at one point and her strength of character interminably tested.

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The books I picked & why

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Grapes of Wrath

Why did I love this book?

I recommend the book because it is uniquely written by John Steinbeck, telling of the terrible depression, troubles, and hardships in the early 1900s in the United States of America. I write about British history and enjoy learning about historical America. This book is educational as well as thought-provoking and entertaining.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah,

Book cover of The Nightingale

Why did I love this book?

A true story set in WW2, and difficulties and starvation of Parisians when the Germans occupied. The bravery of the Resistance fighters helping people to flee German occupation over the mountains of France and Switzerland.

It made me aware of how the people of France suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

It was a powerful read and one that stayed in my memory long after.

If you enjoy history this is a read for you. Kristin Hannah’s story encouraged me in many ways to be able to produce my book. I always have been fascinated by the strength of character that these resistance fighters had to risk and in many cases give their life for their fellow man.

My own WW2 book tells of the famous Special Operations Executive [S.O.E.] women fighting in WW2-occupied France. Their tenacity, courage, and bravery were commendable. And an example to us all. 

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women.

This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France.

Kristin Hannah's…

Unsettled Ground

By Claire Fuller,

Book cover of Unsettled Ground

Why did I love this book?

This is a glorious read that supplies verve, love, and heart. Two siblings are still living with their mother in their fifties in poverty and isolation. There is a serious risk of the inability to cope following their mother's demise. Music is a theme running throughout this charming story of resilience, and the survival instinct.

The two find they are living on the fringes of society, however, the ending proves that light can be spun from darkness.

By Claire Fuller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unsettled Ground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Costa Novel Award

Finalist for the Women's Prize in Fiction

Named a Best Book of the Month by Entertainment Weekly, PopSugar, Bustle, Chicago Review of Books, PureWow, a Best Book of Summer by Daily Beast and one of Good Housekeeping's Best Books of 2021

"Full of dramatic twists and turns right up until its moving, beautiful end." —NPR Books

At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world…

A Place Called Winter

By Patrick Gale,

Book cover of A Place Called Winter

Why did I love this book?

This book is a true story told about a relative of the author and the prejudices faced and hardships endured by him. He was sent away to Canada at a time in the U.K.when homosexuality was illegal.

A real page-turner that left me pondering the amount of prejudice that still remains in our society today.

I believe we should all live and let live. Disliking the racism and homophobia we still see today, I do all in my power to educate folks otherwise as I have always felt there to be no reason for its existence.

This story made me aware of the fact that prejudice still exists in 2022.

By Patrick Gale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Place Called Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015 **

Picked for the BBC Radio 2 Simon Mayo Book Club

To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence - until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.

Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a…

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why did I love this book?

It is an unusual book to read. Quite fascinating to think that one so young could live her life semi-wild for as long as she did, being self-sufficient and alone. Ending up making a relatively good living. I enjoyed this read for its unique presentation You will never be quite sure of what you thought was going on. The ending was surprising.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Special Operations Executive, gay men, and romantic love?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Special Operations Executive, gay men, and romantic love.

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