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Simon Mawer Books In Order

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Publication Order of Marian Sutro Books

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky / Trapeze (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tightrope (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Simon Mawer is an Italian based English author of thriller, literature and fiction books best known for his Marian Sutro series. He was born in England and spent his childhood days in Malta and Cyprus. He attended Millfield School and Brasenose College where he graduated with a degree in Zoology and spent most of his career life as a biology teacher.

Mawer published his debut novel, Chimera (1989) at the age of forty-one. The book won McKitterick Prize for the category of the first book by a write over the age of forty. His fifth book Mendel’s Dwarf established Simon Mawer as a prolific author on either side of the Atlantic with New York Times terming the novel as a thematically ambitious and humorous novel. The book was optioned for film rights by Uzo, but later Barbra Streisand got the film rights. In 2003, Mawer’s book, The Fall won Boardman Tasker and Man Booker Prize. In 2009, The Glass Room was shortlisted for Walter Scott and Man Booker Prize.

Mendel’s Dwarf

For a book to be optioned for a movie adaptation, it has to be unique and stand out from the crowd in its genre. That’s what Simon Mawer did in his book Mendel’s Dwarf- it’s a beautiful story where the readers get to learn about genetics and at the same time getting to known an intelligent, cranky little man named Doctor Benedict Lambert. Dr. Lambert is a dwarf, geneticist and his primary motive in the field of genetics is to find out what exactly makes a dwarf.
According to the novel, 90% of dwarfs are accidents. They all are born by normal parents who have no known history of dwarfism. It’s a mutation or rather says a genetic goof. But the big question is: where does this genetic goof occur in the long DNA chain? When offered a position at a well-known institution, the doctors say that this would be his area of study.

There’s hardly a minute that passed without our little hero being reminded that he’s different from the normal humans. Lambert is also aware of the way people overcompensate for their discomfit around him, smiling too broadly, clapping way too loudly, and them emphasizing that they are different from him.
The doctor yearns to know what his body would have been like if the traits of achondroplasty hadn’t separated from his father and mother. He questions what his normal child would look like. As Dr. Lambert explains to the reader’s several wonders of genetics, at the back of his genius mind is how it all ended up- giving him dwarfism traits. He is related to his great-uncle, Gregor Mendel, a little man who worked over his pea plants for years and wrote an elaborate explanation of genetics, submission, dominance and much more. Through this, we are treated to countless imaginary conversations in Mendel’s life, getting a glimpse of what is known of Lambert’s existence.

There’s no dry science in Mendel’s Dwarf, but the personality of Lambert is way larger than his little body, and it’s his good character that makes the story so alive. He is not a long-suffering saint. He is brave and his appetites. Not only do we get to see Ben’s professional career but also his affair. He crosses path with a woman who was a librarian in his youth days. The two often met when he was seeking knowledge from the library shelves. It’s revealed that the doctor lusted for this now retiring librarian with a trait of having one green and blue eye. The two later become adult friends, and the doctor can hardly get rid of the thought that they could have been more than just friends.

While Mendel’s Dwarf is a funny, witty novel, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a lightweight read. It’s an easy read, but it’s also weighty in implication, a reason it was optioned for adaptation. The story is wonderful, and there’s plenty of information for readers to absorb in the course of Lambert’s affair with the librarian. Additionally, there is plenty of interesting meditation on the true discoveries that Gregor Mendel- the father of genetics made during his lifetime. Additionally, there are shocking revelations about the inaccuracies and dirty work of Charles Darwin and his processors and followers.


At the climax of the Second World War, a young English-French woman is trained as a spy and sent to France to help the French resistance. If you read the blurb, you might think that Trapeze is espionage-adventure- which indeed is, but Simon Mawer’s intentions aren’t after creating a Robert Ludlum thriller type book. The author sticks to the personal in this series debut novel, and he doesn’t venture out into the war, the fighting strategies, tactics or the soldiers themselves.

Instead, the author invites us to imagine the possibility of the different countries involved in the war with each striving to be the first to discover nuclear weapons. The Americans were working on their weapons and the German’s as well. France had scientists, and the British were looking was looking to assimilate the French scientists in efforts to keep the secrets from the Germans.

In this series opener, we get a descriptive look at women recruitment, their training in Scotland and subsequent deployment in France. These women were so young and perhaps that’s what made them brave. Some were better in spying than others and could easily pick those the admired when on the mission.
World War II is a convenient catalyst to filmmakers and writers because it throws in the human capabilities and desires into extremes. Simon Mawer attempts to show his readers the ordinary life of a spy. His heroine, Marian changes names throughout the story- from Anne-Marrie to Laurence and her motivations and skills also change as the names change. But since Trapeze is so personal, the readers get a share of Marian’s secret internal thoughts about her colleagues and lovers.

It’s important to this book was initially published as The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Trapeze is the title given when it was published in the United States. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced, coming of age spy story, a tale of self-discovery, sexual awakening and the discovery of the terrors of working in a new identity in a foreign land occupied by enemies.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Simon Mawer

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