The Tiger Claw: A Novel

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9780143032892: The Tiger Claw: A Novel

Shauna Singh Baldwin first heard of the mysterious story of Noor Inayat Khan (codename Madeleine) at The Safe House, an espionage-themed restaurant in Milwaukee. A former Dutch spy told her of the brave and beautiful Indo-American woman who left her family in London, England, to become a spy in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. The story immediately intrigued Baldwin, inspiring her to travel to Europe, seek out the places where Noor lived, interview the people who knew her, and discover more about the enigmatic woman. The Giller Prize finalist The Tiger Claw—Baldwin’s follow-up novel to her award-winning What the Body Remembers—was born from the silences, conflicting stories and significant gaps she discovered along the way.

As the novel begins, we’re thrown into a bleak German prison cell with Noor, where she is shackled hand and foot and freezing from the winter’s cold. It is December 1943, the turning point in the war raging in Europe. Noor’s captor, Herr Vogel, allows her onionskin paper on which he directs her to write children’s stories. She does so, but also secretly writes letters to someone she addresses as "ma petite", the spirit of the child she had conceived with Armand Rivkin, a French Jewish musician and the love of her life. Although she must keep the letters hidden from her captor, it is through these words to her unborn child, alternating with a thrilling third-person narrative, that we learn Noor’s courageous and heartbreaking story. Noor’s mother is an American from Boston who married a Sufi musician and teacher from India. Growing up in France, Noor is extremely close with her liberal Muslim father, but when he dies, Noor's conservative uncle Tajuddin and her brother Kabir govern the family. Uncle Tajuddin and Kabir disapprove of Noor's love for Armand, and as the men of the family in 1930s France, they have the legal right to stop her engagement.

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From the Inside Flap:

From the author of What the Body Remembers, an extraordinary story of love and espionage, cultural tension and displacement, inspired by the life of Noor Inayat Khan (code name "Madeleine"), who worked against the Occupation after the Nazi invasion of France.

When Noor Khan's father, a teacher of mystical Sufism, dies, Noor is forced to bow, along with her mother, sister and brother, to her uncle's religious literalism and ideas on feminine propriety. While at the Sorbonne, Noor falls in love with Armand, a Jewish musician. Though her uncle forbids her to see him, they continue meeting in secret.

When the Germans invade in 1940, Armand persuades Noor to leave him for her own safety. She flees with her family to England, but volunteers to serve in a special intelligence agency. She is trained as a radio operator for the group that, in Churchill's words, will "set Europe ablaze" with acts of sabotage. She is then sent back to Occupied France. Unwavering courage is what Noor requires for her assignment and her deeply personal mission -- to re-unite with Armand. As her talisman, she carries her grandmother's gift, an heirloom tiger claw encased in gold.

The novel opens in December 1943. Noor has been imprisoned. She begins writing in secret, tracing the events that led to her capture. When Germany surrenders in 1945, her brother Kabir begins his search through the chaos of Europe's Displaced Persons camps to find her.

In its portrayal of intolerance, The Tiger Claw eerily mirrors our own times, and progresses with moments of great beauty and white-knuckle tension towards a moving and astonishing denouement.

Excerpt from The Tiger Claw
December moved in, taking up residence with Noor in her cell, and freezing the radiator.

Cold coiled in the bowl of her pelvis, turning shiver to quake as she lay beneath her blanket on the cot. Above, snow drifted against the glass and bars. Shreds of thoughts, speculations, obsessions ... some glue still held her fragments together.

The flap door clanged down.

"Herr Vogel..."

The rest, in rapid German, was senseless.

Silly hope reared inside; she reined it in.

The guard placed something on the thick, jutting tray, something invisible in the dingy half-light. Soup probably. She didn't care.

She heard a clunk and a small swish.

Yes, she did.

From the Back Cover:

Praise for What the Body Remembers:
"A stunning first novel. Intensely atmospheric -- an artistic triumph."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An impressive achievement. . .rich, fascinating, epic. . . An original, extremely readable book that dramatizes the plight of Indian women with great sympathy and love."
-- The Gazette (Montreal)

"A captivating jewel of a novel by a seasoned and sophisticated writer. . . Beyond being a compelling tale of individuals, What the Body Remembers offers a gimlet-eyed view of a pluralistic society's disintegration into factionalism and anarchy."
-- The Washington Post

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Shauna Singh Baldwin
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Book Description Penguin, New Delhi, India, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. First Edition. When her father, the Sufi mystic and musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, dies, Noor is forced to bow to her uncle’s religious literalism and ideas of feminine propriety. Yet, while at the Sorbonne, she falls in love with Armand, a Jewish pianist and composer, and when her uncle forbids her to see him, continues their relationship in secret. As the Germans invade France in 1940, Armand persuades Noor to leave him for her own safety. Noor flees with her family to England, but volunteers to serve in a special intelligence agency. Trained as a radio operator for a group that, in Churchill’s words, will "set Europe ablaze" with acts of sabotage, she is sent back to Occupied France. Unwavering courage is what Noor requires for her assignment, and for her deeply personal mission—to unite with her beloved again. As her talisman, she carries her grandmother’s gift, an heirloom tiger claw encased in gold In its portrayal of intolerance, The Tiger Claw eerily mirrors our own times, and progresses with moments of great beauty and tension towards a moving and unforgettable denouement. Printed Pages: 584. Size: 14 x 22 Cm. Bookseller Inventory # 010412

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Book Description Penguin, New Delhi, India, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. First Edition. When her father, the Sufi mystic and musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, dies, Noor is forced to bow to her uncle’s religious literalism and ideas of feminine propriety. Yet, while at the Sorbonne, she falls in love with Armand, a Jewish pianist and composer, and when her uncle forbids her to see him, continues their relationship in secret. As the Germans invade France in 1940, Armand persuades Noor to leave him for her own safety. Noor flees with her family to England, but volunteers to serve in a special intelligence agency. Trained as a radio operator for a group that, in Churchill’s words, will "set Europe ablaze?with acts of sabotage, she is sent back to Occupied France. Unwavering courage is what Noor requires for her assignment, and for her deeply personal mission—to unite with her beloved again. As her talisman, she carries her grandmother’s gift, an heirloom tiger claw encased in gold? In its portrayal of intolerance, The Tiger Claw eerily mirrors our own times, and progresses with moments of great beauty and tension towards a moving and unforgettable denouement. Printed Pages: 584. Size: 13 Cms x 20 Cms. Bookseller Inventory # 010412

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