The heroic then twenty-two-year-old woman on the original cover of this book photographed at Love Field, Texas, in 1943 is the incredible Florene Miller (later Watson). Florene Miller was born on December 7, 1920. She turned twenty-one on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When writing my Virtues’ stories, I very purposefully shied away from too much mention of specific historical events surrounding the war. I had no desire to tred on true history and sought only to create a world with my characters doing their things in the fictional towns I crafted. However, I did have a very significant scene in this book that pertained to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In a way, that was my little nod to Florene.
An Australian by birth, Nancy left her native soil in her early twenties on a world tour, supporting herself with freelance journalism. She met Henri Fiocca, one of the wealthiest men in Marseille, France, at a party one evening, and the two fell deeply and madly in love.
On September 22, 1943, Pearl parachuted into Occupied France. She was not yet thirty years old. She assumed the identity of a French national named Pauline and the codename, Wrestler. In wireless transmissions back to England, she was “Marie.” In Occupied France, she worked as a courier for Maurice Southgate. She often traveled by train, and as a way to disguise her intent, carried with her “pro-Nazi” French magazines. Henri’s father owned a cosmetics company named Isabelle Lancray, and Pearl had paperwork that provided a cover story of a cosmetic saleswoman to help explain why she traveled so much.
In 1936, the same year Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, Josephine returned to America to perform, but was treated with open racism and general hostility. Heartbroken by the way her home country had treated her, she returned to France. Baker returned to Paris in 1937, married Frenchman Jean Lion, who was Jewish, and became a French citizen.
Today I’m celebrating my 49th birthday with a scavenger hunt through Temperance’s Trial!