The Tiger Claw

The Tiger Claw

Product ID: 14893

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Author: Shauna Singh Baldwin
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 570
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143032895


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 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 unit 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.


The Tiger Claw is inspired by the life and times of Noor Inayat Khan and the non-fiction accounts of many other resistance agents of WW II. Many historical people are mentioned in this book, but no living person is portrayed. A few new characters have been substituted for historical persons and some names have been changed. Most Transliterations are from Urdu, some are from Arabic.

The first non-fiction biography of Noor, Madeleine, was written in 1952, by Jean Overton Fuller. William Stevenson Summarized and embellished this account in The Man Called Intrepid. Later non-fiction writers commented on Noor’s story, like Rita Kramer in Flames in the Field. Noor’s brother, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, offered his tribute to Noor in his book Awakening. Noor is mentioned in footnotes to biographies of Hazrat Inayat Khan and discussed in books by retired agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Recently, her story was presented with more context in women Who Lived for Danger by Marcus Binney.

For me, these non-fiction accounts raised more questions about Noor than their facts could answer.

My depiction of Noor begins from fact but departs quickly into imagination, bending time, creating characters around her, rearranging or inventing some events to explore as if through her eyes, to feel what may have been in her heart.