Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a spy? We have the books for you! From biographies and memoirs of women who worked as secret agents, to historical fiction bringing the lives of real women into beautifully imagined detail, to speculative fiction that imagines a world where women fight back against oppression, female spy stories are fascinating. Maybe you’ll be inspired to adopt a cloak and dagger lifestyle, or maybe you’ll decide that the world of espionage is best enjoyed safely within the pages of a book, either way, we know these thrilling reads will make your heart pound!
Flirting with Danger by Janet Wallach
“A remarkable tale of intrigue and daring.” —Publishers Weekly
The true story of socialite Marguerite Harrison, who spied for U.S. military intelligence in Russia and Germany in the fraught period between the world wars. Born a privileged child of America’s Gilded Age, Marguerite Harrison rebelled against her mother’s ambitions, married the man she loved, was widowed at thirty-seven, and set off on a life of adventure. Hired as a society reporter, when America entered World War I she applied to Military Intelligence to work as a spy.
She arrived in Berlin immediately after the Armistice and befriended the enemy, dining with aristocrats and dancing with socialists. Late into the night she wrote prescient reports on the growing power of the German right. Sent to Moscow, she sneaked into Russia to observe the results of the Bolshevik Revolution. Although she carried press credentials she was caught and imprisoned as an American spy. Terrified when told her only way out was to spy for the Cheka, she became a double agent, aiming to convince the Russian rulers she was working for them while striving to stay loyal to her country. Janet Wallach captures Harrison’s daring and glamour in this stranger-than-fiction history of a woman drawn to the impossible.
“This fully animated portrait of Nancy Wake…will fascinate readers of World War II history and thrill fans of fierce, brash, independent women, alike.” —Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
Based on the thrilling real-life story of Nancy Wake, a socialite spy and astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII. Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.
“Proto-feminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage—all midcentury style and intrigue set against real, indelible history.” —Entertainment Weekly
A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.
“Did someone say ‘queer espionage’?… Other authors have had clever takes on World War II spy novels, but none has created a voice like Clem’s, at once a true artist and a woman spinning a tale to save her life.” —Los Angeles Times
Clementine is a seventy-two-year-old reformed con artist with a penchant for impeccably tailored suits. It’s 1941 and Clem’s favorite haunt, Madame Boulette’s, is crawling with Nazis, while Clem’s people—the outsiders, the artists, and the hustlers who used to call it home—are disappearing. When the cabaret’s prize songbird, Zoe St. Angel, recruits Clem to steal the recipe book of a now-missing famous Parisian perfumer, she can’t say no. Complete with romance, espionage, champagne towers, and haute couture, this full-tilt sensory experience is a dazzling portrait of the underground resistance of twentieth-century Paris and a passionate love letter to the power of beauty and community in the face of insidious hate.
“A chilling invitation no Atwood fan can resist . . . The Testaments reminds us of the power of truth in the face of evil.” —People
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways. With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes. Information is power, and the women must work together to smuggle knowledge across both sides of the boarder, working undercover and as double agents in a fight for truth and freedom.
“Genius… Fascinating…along with the cloak-and-dagger action, Fox writes movingly of trying to reconcile a career in espionage with family life… A look inside the CIA that the agency isn’t ready for you to see.” –Washington Post
Amaryllis Fox’s riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world’s most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter. At twenty-one, she was recruited by the CIA. Her first assignment was reading and analyzing hundreds of classified cables a day from foreign governments and synthesizing them into daily briefs for the president. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center. At twenty-two, she was fast-tracked into advanced operations training, sent from Langley to “the Farm,” where she lived for six months in a simulated world learning how to use a Glock, how to get out of flexicuffs while locked in the trunk of a car, how to withstand torture, and the best ways to commit suicide in case of captivity. At the end of this training she was deployed as a spy under non-official cover–the most difficult and coveted job in the field as an art dealer specializing in tribal and indigenous art and sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.