Our longest running book group brings together readers who enjoy discussing and sharing insights about a single title each month. Facilitated conversations are lively, intelligent, and insightful. The titles are mostly fiction, with one nonfiction choice included each year. The group chooses titles for the coming year by ballot in the spring. Book discussions are held on the third Wednesday of the month, September through June (no July or August meetings), and all adult patrons enthusiastic about reading and talking about books are invited to join us as often as they can. Before each meeting, you can pick up your copy for the next month’s discussion at the Circulation Desk. If you have questions, please contact Karen Stern at stern@noblenet.org.


Next Meeting: February 17, 2021, 7:00 pm (virtually with an emailed link from the coordinator)
To Discuss: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII  by Sonia Purnell

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and–despite her prosthetic leg–helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it. Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall–an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over adversity.

Sonia Purnell  is a journalist and bestselling author known for her lively writing style and meticulous research with a growing readership across the world. Her first book – the unauthorised biography of Boris Johnson called ‘Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition’ – was long listed for the Orwell prize in 2011. Her second book, ‘First Lady’ in the UK and ‘Clementine’ in the US, (a finalist for the Plutarch prize) revealed for the first time the vital role played in Winston Churchill’s career by his wife Clementine and has been optioned to be made into a Hollywood movie. Her new work, ‘A Woman of No Importance’, is the astonishing but true-life tale of a female spy in WWII, Virginia Hall, a young American socialite with a wooden leg, who helped fan the flames of French Resistance. It will be published in March in the UK and elsewhere in April and the rights have already been sold to Paramount for a major film starring Daisy Ridley.

She has written for most national newspapers in the UK, several prestigious publications in other countries including the Wall Street Journal in the US, and lives in London with her husband and two sons. (from the author’s website)

Web Articles for Further Reading:
The Cool-Headed One-Legged Spy Who Changed the Course of WWII by Mick Herron, nytimes.com, May 24, 2019.
1945: Virginia Hall – from a series on “barrier breakers” at intel.gov (a website from the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence). Article contains links to the CIA and DIA websites with other similar articles.
Virginia Hall Was America’s Most Successful Female WWII Spy. But She Was Almost Kept From Serving by Sonia Purnell, time.com, April 9, 2019.
Author’s website: soniapurnell.com


2020-21 SCHEDULE (Meetings are currently virtual. Please contact stern@noblenet.org if you would like to join the group and receive meeting links. No Meetings in July and August)
2020-2021 discussion titles were voted on by group members in May 2020. Click each title for more information from our catalog.

February 17        A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia Purnell
March 17            Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
April 21              Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
May 19               House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
June 16              Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Previous Discussions (1998 to 2020)