MONICA: Heroine of the Danish Resistance by Christine Sutherland

MONICA: Heroine of the Danish Resistance

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Here, Sutherland (The Princess of Siberia 1983) anemically chronicles the life history of Monica Massy-Beresford Wichfield, the daughter of an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family who became a heroine of the Danish Resistance during WW II. We first meet Monica as a pampered, headstrong child, living in cultured luxury in her ancestral Irish castle. Educated in England and on the continent, Monica apparently absorbed the best values and highest culture the world had to offer. Although she spent many happy months in Germany, she conceived an undying hatred for the Germans when her favorite brother was killed during the Great War. Married to a neurasthenic Danish nobleman, Jorgen de Wichfield, Monica then moved to his estate in the Baltics, where she set about renovating the residence and raising a family. A neighboring landowner, the virile Kurt von Reventlow, became her longtime friend and lover, but dutiful Monica remained married to Jorgen. When financial mismanagement threatened the family with poverty, Monica took things in hand, moving the family to Italy and running a successful business in costume jewelry. At the outbreak of WW II, the Wichfields were forced to return to neutral Denmark. Monica, who passionately hated the Nazis, became a leading member of the Resistance, though her husband remained oblivious to her activities. Betrayed by a comrade, Monica was sentenced to death, but public outcry against executing a woman induced the Nazis to commute her sentence to imprisonment in Germany, where she comported herself heroically until her health gave out. She died one month before the end of the war. In colorless prose, Sutherland hovers admiringly over the surface of Monica's life, describing the trappings but not the substance of events. Surely this courageous and highly principled woman deserves better than she receives in this superficial biography.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux