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  • Spymistress

  • The True Story of the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II
  • By: William Stevenson
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Camm
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (163 ratings)

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Spymistress cover art

Spymistress

By: William Stevenson
Narrated by: Nicholas Camm
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Summary

A rousing tale of espionage and unsung valor, this is the captivating true story of Vera Atkins, Great Britain's spymistress from the age of 25. With her fierce intelligence, blunt manner, personal courage, and exceptional informants, Vera ran countless missions throughout the 1930s. After rising to the leadership echelon in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a covert intelligence agency formed by Winston Churchill, she became head of a clandestine army in World War II. Her team went deep behind enemy lines, linked up with resistance fighters, destroyed vital targets, helped Allied pilots escape capture, assassinated German soldiers, and radioed information back to London. As the biographer of her mentor in the SOE, William Stevenson was the only person Vera Atkins trusted to record her story.

©2007, 2011 William Stevenson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Spymistress

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A fascinating character who deserved better representation.

Found the narration so irritatingly hurried and toneless that it detracted from the book's content. Certainly cannot recommend as an audible book and will check in future before buying anything narrated by Nicholas Camm (who he?).

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Narration was dull, monotone, painful

I couldn't finish it.
Appalling narration - the worst narration I've ever heard.
Just awful.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

brilliant

the world needs to know more about these unsung heroes amazing woman and outstanding courage of the operatives

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disapointing

Would you try another book written by William Stevenson or narrated by Nicholas Camm?

No

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Better research,

Would you be willing to try another one of Nicholas Camm’s performances?

No

What character would you cut from Spymistress?

N/A

Any additional comments?

The reader had the most mournful monotonous voice. The book is full of glib generalisations and poor research. Stereotypes and an over emphasis on the war against the Jews and Zionism. For instance he says the Nazis reintroduced antisemitism into France that had been banished by the French revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. He obviously had never heard of Dreyfus !

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terribly dull narration -- a great pity, because content good.

We'll-written account of Vera Atkins' life but oh what a dreary, dreary narration! It would have been so much more enjoyable with a decent narrator. Worth listening to -- if you can stay awake!

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story

I struggled, at first, with the narrator - very flat. However, the story was so interesting and the pace so fast, that I kept going and in the end, I warmed to the narration style.

The foreword has very flowery language and the quotation from D H Lawrence did not surprise me but stick with it - the book is not so!

I recommend listening to this.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Dire. Really, don’t bother!

The narration is awful - monotonous and rushed and the writing is cringe. There are many excellent books on the SOE and Vera Atkins so there’s no need to waste your time with this one.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Very Disappointing

Apart from agreeing with other reviewers about the dreadful narration, I had to slow down the speed of the narration, just to make it easier to listen. I really struggled with the story which was all over the place... It just didn’t ‘flow’ there didn’t seem to be any consistency going backwards and forwards between years, people and events making it all so confusing. I have studied, read and listened to many books on SOE and Vera Atkins role and by far this is the only one that I have not been able to finish and not just because of the narration but because there were errors and is just so much waffle !!
Vera Atkins and the men and women agents deserve far better than this confusing story.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

important book

I do understand other reviewers who have found the narration difficult, but I enjoyed his style. He delivered the narrative in what I imagine to be that of a war correspondent thus adding to the atmosphere.
The introduction is very annoying for anyone in the UK who is not English. More than 60 nations participated in the WW2, so it can be very annoying to have English or American writers sounding as though they were the main "winners."
I did appreciate due honour being given to the immense Polish contribution to the whole war effort in many areas. All-in-all a remarkable story of a truly remarkable lady plus so many confirmations of material I have seen/heard of from other sources.

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Spymistress

I am sure this is probably a good read but I had to stop due to the narrator. He was far too quick and his voice was not conducive to an enjoyable read. I had to give up.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Glenn
  • 29-03-14

Great Story - Unfortunately Monotone Performance

What made the experience of listening to Spymistress the most enjoyable?

The story itself. And the writing was brisk and informative.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Why, the Spymistress, of course

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Really a one tone narrator. Very little inflection. It was, literally, mono-tonous. It is really too bad because the story is very interesting, and one that needs to be told. It is quite remarkable that this performance was 'approved' by editors/directors. Sentence after sentence delivered with the same intonation contours. It becomes almost impossible to distinguish given and new information.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Only a strong reaction to the performance. I like the narrator's accent, but his lack of any kind of variation in delivery made listening a challenge.

Any additional comments?

I finished the book because I wanted to hear the story. And it was well told, just not narrated very well at all.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kathleen
  • 28-03-14

THE NARRATION IS A MONOTONE RACE

How could the performance have been better?

An editor who listened and directed the narrator to -SLOW DOWN- ADD INFLECTION-AND TONAL CHANGES. This is a very interesting book which I have started 3 times and simply can't follow much less think while listening. Having listened to 1000s of audiobooks, this is the most incomprehensible.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger- at the narrator who seems to make no effort to communicate-only to prove- he can read fast (without breathing?).

Any additional comments?

I wonder if it is possible to slow this file technically.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BGinNJ
  • 18-11-16

Griping story told badly!

The narrator was so dull & lifeless it was unnerving. Please have the narration of this wonderful woman's story redone by someone, preferably a woman, with a pulse!

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 18-08-14

Disappointed

The disappointing part of this book is that it doesn't live up to it's title. Lots of info on the WWII spy network, but little about Vera herself. The narrator's fast talking and british accent made difficult to listen to.

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B. Noble
  • 10-08-14

Better read as a novel than as history

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I read a lot of WW II history and I did enjoy reading this. It's full of anecdotes I've never seen. However, it is not a serious history. The author seems more interested in name-dropping than telling a coherent story about Vera Atkins.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Stevenson again?

No.

Did Nicholas Camm do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

If there is any dialog, i missed it. No need to differentiate. I think he did a good job.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Spymistress?

NA. The book needs footnotes and sources. I am not sure what the Audible does when footnotes are encountered.

Any additional comments?

According to other reviews, CIA, goodreads, etc., the book is full of inaccuracies.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cto
  • 28-10-16

horribly read

a wonderful and exciting story totally ruined by the reader . he read in monotone without inflection, feeling or interest. I did not finish listening.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hans Rigelman
  • 09-08-16

Who doesn't like a smart and tough woman?

...unless of course you're her enemy! We who live free owe a great debt to those who fought the secret wars, and the men and women that Vera led were some of the bravest and most determined fighters whoever lived. Thank you for telling their stories!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • VALARIE
  • 24-10-22

Enlightening

I didn't realize how many female spies there were, or how entrenched they had become. I guess that is the only way women could really go into battle back then. Not to take anything from the Wasp on medical teams.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mia
  • 19-10-22

Monotone

The reading was clear, but the tone did not fluctuate enough to make listening interesting. I tried over and over but I just couldn’t stand the monotone of the reading. The story is so in-depth and interesting that I will put it on my to read list. Sorry for the negative review, maybe it’s just me. Thanks

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-09-22

Karin G

I nearly didn’t listen to this book because of the negative reviews concerning the narration.
I loved the quiet professional voice of the narrator!
The book is interesting and I highly recommend it. I have listened and read many books on this topic but this was new and informative.