Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fabulous read. Set during WW2, the book opens with the main character, the protagonist, code name Verity-an SOE agent, now a prisoner, being interrogated by the Germans. The point of view is first person and the effect is stunning. The reader is catapulted straight into the scene; it's immediate and vivid, almost haunting.
She talks about how bargaining to get her clothes back from her captives has cost her 'four sets of wireless code,' to which upon my first reading I immediately thought, 'stupid, reckless, weak.' A very disapproving view. Upon my second reading my view was completely altered. Wein's words touched me. Or really I should say that Verity spoke to me the reader, and her words were heart felt and moving, evoking a response of empathy and sadness. Don't you just love it when you get such a connection from a book?
Next we are introduced to her friend, Maddie and we learn of their backgrounds and how their paths crossed. Maddie is flying in the ATA and we learn how they both came to be in France. Wein delivers facts and the reader is privy to information such as interrogation techniques, life in the ATA and life as a Special Operations Executive.
Part way through we hear directly from Maddie and it is a positive change of voice as she forges ahead with her side of the story. The detail is excellent and Wein has cleverly interwoven fact with fiction, delivering a believable story.
It's a heart rendering tale of two very strong and determined young women and it highlights the roles that women undertook during that period whilst facing terrible dangers. The friendship they have formed is strong and Verity recalls this bond often whilst narrating. Will both women survive? I can't spoil it for you so I'll hold back on this one. You'll have to read it and see for yourselves.
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