Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in Verity's own words, as she writes her account for her captors.
©2012 Elizabeth Gatland (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
A few weeks ago, I got this text message from my big sister, D-. "Good audio book suggestion: Code Name Verity. One of the best I've listened to". D- was right. So are all of the reviewers who say it's pretty impossible to write a review of this book that doesn't have spoilers.
Elizabeth Wein's 2012 "Code Name Verity" is marketed as a Young Adult book. I've got two teenagers, and I've read/listened to a fair number of books in this genre. Without sex, vulgarity, and fatuous self-involvement, this book stands out. Wein's historically accurate description of England as it entered WWII and its use of civilian planes - the (de Havilland) Puss Moth, the Tiger Moth - in war service is an intriguing bonus. The vocabulary isn't dumbed down, and it's definitely UK-flavored. I had to look up words like "gormless", which means clueless, stupid and dull, combined.
That made me wonder just what YA, as a genre means. Imogen Russell Williams, in a July 31, 2014, article in The Guardian says, "the sine qua non of YA is an adolescent protagonist, who will probably face significant difficulties and crises, and grow and develop to some degree - Patrick Ness described it as "finding boundaries and crossing them and figuring out when you end, who you are and what shape you are." The two protagonists are a little older - in their twenties - but otherwise, it does meet the criteria.
The book is set in World War 2, and there is violence in the book. It is disturbing, even though it's neither graphic nor gratuitous.
I can say, without giving away key plot points, that "Code Name Verity" is as much of a mindf*** as Gillian Flynn's 2012 "Gone Girl." There were several times I found myself thinking, "Wait, what???" and rewinding a couple of minutes because there'd been a twist so subtle I'd missed it.
Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell were fantastic narrators. Their accents really help set the place.
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Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
The book was one of those rare pieces which are transformed as they develop so that everything which seems humdrum and uninspired as you listen to the first half suddenly becomes electric and exquisitely meaningful as the author shifts your perspective. It began for me as a two or three star listen and soared to five stars searching for a sixth as it engaged my heart and my head in the sudden truth it reveals. I now want to go back and listen to the first half with open eyes.
The reading is flat out masterful by both of the actresses. Perfect evocation of character; a low key delivery which heightens the impact of the most wrenching moments. And emotion which is unaffected and completely rooted in the truth of the narrative.
This is not an action packed adventure story. It develops slowly and requires some patience from the reader, although the character detail and the development of the relationship between the two women is charming, often funny and very rewarding. In the end, it is deeply satisfying and moving. One of my absolute favorite listens during the past year. I hope this review will lead to some of you having the same experience I had with it.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
When I saw this book on audible and read the reviews I had a picture in my mind of a woman piolet and a women wireless operator working together such as the piolet passing information to the operator while flying over dangerous area. Boy, was I wrong. Elizabeth Wein tells the story in a unique way and the use of two narrators was great. Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell really made the story work. The story grabbed me right away and kept my attention throughout. I was absorbed right into the story and felt I was there with them and part of the story. It takes a great author to do that to a reader. I found the comments by the author at the end of the book very interesting. She took real situation and placed her story heroines (which she made them a composite of real people) into a similar made up story making this a novel. Lady Julia was a polished, educated Scot aristocrats and I felt Mattie, the English girl piolet was someone just like me. I am sure other readers may feel this reversed. This is one of the best spy stories I have read it some time. There is humor, suspense, action, wrapped in a fascinating story.
This book has gotten much, much love from bloggers and Young Adult aficionados in general. Because girls! In World War II! And it's kind of a little bit dark with Nazis, toned down to YA levels.
Code Name Verity is a girls' adventure story about a pilot and a secret agent, both based in historical reality though the author admits in her afterword that she took a bit of fictional license to allow her young female pilot to fly a plane into occupied France.
As the book begins, Julie, the secret agent half of this best friends duo, is writing a confession to her German captors. She got caught as an enemy spy when she looked the wrong way crossing a street in France, and now she's in the hands of the SS. The first half of the book is her story. She is Scheherazade, trying to prolong her life by giving away secrets and playing mind-games with her captors, games she can't possibly win.
Then comes the second half, which is Maddie's tale, Maddie being the working class girl who became a pilot, who crashed in France, and now works with the French Resistance. She learns of Julie's capture and want to free her. Of course.
Much has been made in reviews of the "shocking twist," which I shall not spoil, but let's just say it is dramatic and moving but not wholly unexpected and certainly not as wrenching for adult readers who have read war stories before. Likewise, the horrors of the Nazi occupation are described, but the author spares the reader the worst.
This isn't a flaw in the book per se — not every war story has to be gory and brutal to excess, but I was constantly reminded that this was a YA novel meant to stir an emotional response. The focus is on Julie and Maddie's friendship and we are treated to long internal monologues regarding everything that passes through their heads.
The story was good and so was the writing, but despite the cleverness of an unreliable narrator, it seemed to be written to appeal to a different sort of reader. Code Name Verity tries very hard to yank your heartstrings and make you shiver with dread at appropriate times. For a teenage girl, this is maybe a near-perfect book. For me, merely decent.
Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
I give Elizabeth Wein high marks for writing a compelling story, and the narrators are superb, but it's hard to give credence to the conceit of a confession written in literary style. There is another incredibly illogical action that I can't divulge without spoiling the book for other readers. But it makes no sense and that absolutely ruined the book for me.
Addicted to Audible!
I listened to half this book, got confused, because I wasn't really paying attention and had to go back and start over. I am glad that I did or I would have missed a gem. This book was well written, great details and the author did not stereotype her characters, they were all multidimensional. It was hard to believe that the story was fiction. I liked the fact that 2 narrators were used, rather than one changing her accent, it made it less confusing. It's definately worth your time and credit
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I don't really know where to start; I can't say enough good things about this book. It's classified as young adult, but it is far more complex than much of YA literature, and holds its own as adult lit. The story itself is riveting, and the performances could not be better. The two protagonists are voiced perfectly. If the story itself weren't so compelling (which it is), you could just get lost in the characterizations. It's that beautiful. Neither narrator hits a wrong note. The writing is lovely, the story is intense and heartbreaking, and the two women are so *present* and believable. Just go listen to it!
Recently retired nurse. Listen to all my books - one to two a week. Always looking for a new find - even though my library is overflowing.
Wonderful, but painful story of two women best friends during World War II. I, personally, can't summarize this book, without giving too much away. Excellent story, excellent narration. It will definitely stick with you. I, also, agree with another reviewer that I need to go back and listen to the book again. I highly recommend this book - especially if you enjoy WWII historical fiction - with an added plus that the main characters are women!
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical fiction) - Code Name Verity is the story of two young women who each play a very important role in thwarting Hitler's advances in Europe. The first half is told by Verity, a radio operator who later becomes a spy. She is also referred to as Queenie, Ava Siler, First Officer Beaufort-Stewart and Julie, which can be a little confusing. She becomes a prisoner of war and is tortured into writing a confession, so her story alternates between her life in prison and flashbacks to events as they actually happened. (Her torture wouldn't have been a picnic, but I'm pretty squeamish and it didn't bother me to hear it.)
Maddy's story is approximately the last half of the book. She is a pilot who flies secret missions and is the one who flew Verity to Nazi-occupied France. Her story dovetails with and goes beyond Verity's.
I almost stopped listening several hours into the book because it seemed to be just the story of young women becoming best friends during the war, but as the secret missions started, etc., it got VERY interesting and intense.
PERFORMANCE - There are two young female narrators. Verity sounds Scottish and Maddy sounds more British, in keeping with their characters. There's also singing and a short performance by a male narrator. Everything is well-done.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 3.5) Very exciting book after the slow start. Since it occurs during World War II, there are mature themes. Guys won't like the female bonding part of the story but will enjoy the covert activities and historical background.
Overall it was just too longwinded and boring for me. I know it was supposed to be "longwinded" in the fact that Verity needs to extend her tale as much as possible because she is a prisoner but there is only so much I can read about the different types of airplanes, controls, and flight patterns.
The performance was great actually in that she nailed the accent to my ear at least, was easy to understand, and not annoying.
Overall I just couldn't get into it, and sadly quit about a quarter of the way through. It's just that every time I tuned into listen I would get bored, easily distracted and pulled from the story, and then need to rewind to figure out what was happening. Especially as the main character has so many names and jumps from time to time.
Although this is not a happy ending type novel it is a harrowing adventure of two young women and their friendship. I got lost in this story and thought it was beautifully read.
A wonderful, all engrossing book, full of tension. A great story, with light and dark, joy and sadness. Excellent narration.
I defy anyone to not shed a tear at the end. The book is full of humour, emotion and historical interest. A truly heart warming read.
"enjoyed the story"
I did enjoy it, wasn't sure if I would, got it free on a buy one get one fre offer, but I did, though I did always like some of bits they put Julie though.
"Brilliant - I was spellbound!"
Not my usual genre but this book is excellent - compelling, harrowing, charming - the sort of book you think about between reads and can't wait to get back to. Has left a lingering impression and I find my thoughts ebbing back to think about the book. Should I confess that I cried as well!?! But not a soppy book - a brave, female-focused, strong and yet devastating book.
I loved the Scottish accent of the first narrator. The second narrator was good, but not as interesting. Still, very difficult to pause/put down. Also loved the random references to knitting!
A very good story that keeps you gripped throughout. The structure is well thought out and the characters and their situation thoroughly believable.
"Brilliantly written, brilliantly read."
I have not read the print version as I prefer, these days, to listen to my books. I am, sadly, too busy to read but I can listen to audio books even when my hands are busy.
I have no comparison
I couldn't choose a favourite as both of the lead female characters were shown as strong, capable and very brave women as, I am sure, were a lot of women at that time in history.
It is impossible for me to do that so wouldn't even consider it. It is one of the reasons that I prefer audio books these days as I can listen to the story almost like a serial and always look forward to the time that I can start up my story again.
I love the way the author comments on her reasons and thinking behind certain names, events and places in the book, at the end of the story. I feel that she shows in her writing how in tune she is with that period of time and with the very brave women who are forever unsung.
loved the story and the twist that I didn't see coming. suspension of disbelief was fantastic and the characters were deeply painted and we'll rounded.
Not for a while as the plot twists are so good that remembering them would spoil the story
The ambush at the bridge and it's outcome.
It made me laugh and cry it is a very cleverly told tale and heart-rending.
I loved this book and will be recommending it to my GCSE English student tutee.
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