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
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.
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.
IF you've wondered about this book, thought about purchasing it when Audible highlighted it a month ago...just do it. *Like a girl*, like a boy, like a YA or an OF, just download it and prepare yourself for a fantastic read, a brilliant experience; but, one you may have to, may want to, take twice. Even those savvy readers who can follow a twisting plot like a hungry cat on a mouse are going to be tossed in a special way. That's why all these reviews let you know right off that they can't tell you a thing (except you'll probably need a tissue.)
[Did you see the movie "The Usual Suspects;" do you remember the shocking end where everything you thought you knew was turned on its head? When Keyser Söze straightens his limp and walks erectly across the street, letting you know that everything was hiding in plain sight all along? And you watched the whole movie again just to shake your head and see it in a new light? That's this experience.] We can't tell you more or we'd have to kill you...
The book is constructed so cleverly with such elegance that you won't see the end coming, though it was always there over you like a sledge hammer. And when it hits you, and it will, you'll realize the force of the story and the talent of this author. You'll realize this is a more fiendishly complex and riveting story than you already thought it was.
A piece of historical fiction that is an espionage thriller, impressively capable of standing up to even the most sophisticated of the genre, not just limited to YA, although none of them could match the heart of this adventure. The themes of courage and friendship are both heartbreaking and uplifting, and the basis of the story, but the history is remarkable. By describing the air raids, the tensions felt by the civilians, and finally the torture endured by the captured spy, Wein brings the terror of war to life. [Imagine how terrifying: Captured by an SS officer for something so simple as looking the wrong way before crossing the street...she looked left, like the British, instead of right, like the French.] Hiding behind the narrator's allusions to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” Kipling's "Kim," Shakespeare, and other literary works, the daily horrors take on a fairytale-like quality that add to the overall masquerade. These two great characters/narrators will grab your heart and burrow in, so make room. I want to see the movie; make T-shirts with their names emblazoned on the front; join their fan clubs.
Yea for the girls...I love that the contribution of females is portrayed so wonderfully by this book. These two friends have all the power, bravery, and loyalty of the females in The Hunger Games or Divergent, etc., but these are human characters created from history, not from fantasy or science fiction. The similar acts of bravery during WWII and other wars are well documented. Women weren't only helpful Rosie the Riveters -- they were soldiers, spies, pilots; they fought, they were tortured and they died.
My little sis reads for a living; over all YA and Children's books for libraries in another state. When Code Name Verity was published, she told me it was great, the new favorite of her Young Writers Group, which is comprised of people ages 14-23. She also told me she thought I'd like it. So, I purchased this in 2013 per her recommendation, foolishly put it in my TBR file thinking YA would be good, but not big-girl good...stupid mistake. I read a couple hundred books between downloading this and finally listening. Code Name Verity is one of the most impressive.
And, the narration...I'm so surprised the book hasn't been nominated for an award for the narration. It was outstanding. A Scottish brogue, French, German, English -- every accent spot on, clear, and animated. They both give spectacular performances.
Just fantastic in everyway. I hope this helps you decide if this is a book you'd enjoy.
Don't miss the Bino Phillips series by AW Gray. They are largely unknown, but as good as any ive read!
How can a WWII spy novel be unique? Ive read the best of them including the entire works of Higgins, Follett, Greg Ilse wrote a great one, Forsythe too. So I was skeptical and even a bit weary of the subject matter even though its been several years since i read a WWII novel. Cynthia's review tipped me this might be special, and i am so grateful it did.
For some of us, there are times in our lives when we experience a special relationship where the synergy of both personalties, self esteem, intelligence, ingenuity and drive creates something greater than the relationship itself. Ive seen and experienced it in sales, several friendships and in marriage. This is the story of two remarkable young British women who meet and work together just before the beginning of WWII. Individuallly they are smart and resourceful, though each is exceptional in different ways. They become best friends, but their relationship results in a much larger, more deadly force for Brittain against the Nazis.
The narration is eloquent. The narrative is sharp and funny.
This is a remarkable accomplishment.
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!
Fast approaching retirement as a life long oncology nurse. I love family more than anything. I enjoy reading (audio only), movies, travels, paper crafting, photography, gardening and just being alive.
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!
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I wasn't aware that this book was considered to be in the Young Adult genre when I bought it. Not that it would have dissuaded me to pass on it. I bought it because of the huge array of glowing reviews. However, about 2 hours in, I thought I was listening to some other book. The way it's written is confusing with the "third person confession" aspect that I didn't really get at first. I couldn't figure out whom was whom and when certain events took place with respect to others. I had to re-read two dozen reviews just to discover that one of the key characters is a prisoner of war, being tortured and interrogated by the Gestapo as a spy!
Overall, the story is confusing and hard to follow. I love WWII stories, both fact and fiction, but this one was a disappointment. Maybe, after 2,000+ audiobooks, I'm a bit jaded but this book hardly qualifies for "the best book I've ever read", as claimed by other reviewers. It's not even in the top 50%! My advice to those readers is to get out more often!
I tried to put myself in the shoes of a YA reader yet I fail to see how this book really falls into that category. It's about grown women doing grown folks things. In some places it's a bit too violent for young people, even by today's over the top depictions of violence and sex. I think I may have enjoyed this book better if the reviews hadn't given me a false sense of its literary attributes. Also, the narrator(s) was just OK, not bothering to make much vocal distinction between the two main characters or even between men and women. Maybe I'm referring to only ONE narrator although two are listed - that's how confusing this story is. With one woman being from Manchester, England and the other one from Scotland, you'd think this would help in telling them apart. Perhaps, I missing something........ Just don't nod off or answer your phone while listening to this book! You will be even more confused!
If you liked this book, more power to you. I don't really buy into the idea that there are good books and bad books - only those which we either like or not. I did not like this one at all. However, I didn't hate it so much that I would warn others away. But neither can I truthfully recommend it.
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.
Two characters told the story and the narrative went back and forth between them. I liked both the characters and the story caught my interest. Both women are placed in extraordinary circumstances because of the war. They were amazing women but the author had me believing that it could be possible. I had tears in my eyes at the end and since I was running while listening to the story I might have looked a bit odd to fellow runners and walkers!
The book reminds me of other action adventure novels except the two main characters are women and men play only a supporting role.
I always think it is almost like a play when there are different characters to listen to.
This is an enjoyable, engaging listen.
I haven't read the print version, but listening made the story very immediate -- and the narrators' voices made the point of view completely clear.
I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read the book, but there were several points in the story that moved me to tears, or shocked me breathless. The author creates a vivid picture of WW II, and it was particularly neat to get a war story from two women's points of view -- and from women who weren't sitting on the sidelines, either!
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.
"Feels like a news report."
When I listened to this, the freshness and immediacy of it made it seem like an urgent news report. The switching between voices had me concentrating hard and brought reality to the book. It was hard to place it in time as it seemed to be happening now, not in the past. The best bit was the feeling of an ambiguous ending, too hard to guess how it might end, so I hated being interrupted and loved listening on my own. The narrators gave it a clean, modern feel and character, despite it nearly being a period piece. Well worth a second listen.
I have no problem recommending this book. I bought it to listen to on my drive to Paris.
The story was gripping, I didn't want to stop on my journey! The reading was superb by both readers.
I can't say that I can compare it to any other book I have read in this genre, most can be pretty boring set in the period, but right from the beginning it had me hooked.
They were both superb, I wasn't sure if I detected an American accent to start with, but
I soon forgot that! No Favouite
Of course, but that would give it away!
Make sure this is your next purchase!
Yes - the story is beautifully written and narrated. It tugs at the heart strings and, despite the authors note at the end , is totally believable.
The moment when you realise the purpose of the 'story' by Verity. Without giving it away!
Both performances were brilliant.
Yes if I could have listened to it in one go I would have.
Definitely worth a listen.
"Vividly imagined and beautifully written"
It was a gripping story told in voices that were always convincing
I thought it stood alone though many other books have been written about the lives of undercover agents, for example Charlotte Gray, but this was told from a very different, personal perspective
No but I would like to
It made me smile and feel sad and shocked in equal parts
I love the way the narrative was told by the two protagonists. The structure was quite challenging with first person narrative turning into third person story-telling in the first part but it worked very well. Gut wrenching and moving. Excellent researched and beautifully written.
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