Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein – 10/10

“But I have told the truth. Isn’t that ironic? They sent me because I am so good at telling lies. But I have told the truth.”

This tale of two war-time friends, women doing men’s jobs, who would never have met had World War II not thrown them together. “Queenie” writes her confession and as much war information as possible down for her Nazi interrogators in an effort to escape further torture. She writes about meeting Maddie, a passionate pilot from Stockport, their secret trips around the UK delivering information, and their planned incursion into France. When we hear Maddie’s side of the story, Queenie evidently held back a bit…

Queenie’s confession is angry, afraid, vicious and submissive in equal measures. It takes a long time to realise that she’s an unreliable narrator, and I was still be surprised well towards the end of the novel. I loved that the girls’ two stories became intertwined towards the end, and there was a long resolution, time for everything to get neatly tied up and complete all those niggling plot questions.

The girls’ relationship is really strong, quite interesting actually. I wish they’d had a few more arguments to make the relationship more real; it seemed a little like hero worship. But both girls are very independent and strong-willed in different ways and they react to the crisis in very different and distinct ways. I was also very impressed by Wein’s use of secondary characters; the female German agent, the young daughters in the French family, and even Von Loewe, the evil German interrogator, are all complex characters, not mono-faceted.

Definitely recommended for a different perspective on working women in the mid-twentieth century, and for women in the war. And just for a great girls’ story in which men are not the primary discussion point!

Additional information:
Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Publisher: Electric Monkey, 288 pages (paperback) – I read it on my Kindle.
Order Code Name Verity from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting
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11 thoughts on “Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein – 10/10

  1. Iris 10 July 2012 at 5:56 pm Reply

    Yay, I’m so glad to learn you enjoyed this one as well. I have been contemplating how to review this one without giving anything away AND making clear how awesome the story is. I haven’t managed to think of it yet, but your review worked really well.

    • readingwithtea 10 July 2012 at 8:03 pm Reply

      Completely loved it. It was so hard not to spoiler!! I’m glad you liked the review – I’m always in awe of how much you manage to write about each book so it’s a compliment indeed!

  2. Alex 10 July 2012 at 8:15 pm Reply

    There have been a number of books about the role of women during the war. Simon Mawer’s latest novel is one and this morning I caught the tail end of a discussion on the radio about a non fiction work concerning a Polish woman who worked for the SOE throughout the war in the most courageous ways imaginable. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the title. I shall have to do some detective work.

    • Agreed. I’ve read quite a few such books in recent months, and it’s fascinating how women were allowed to “step up” when needed, but were then subjugated again in the years following…

      • Alex 13 July 2012 at 6:47 am

        Yes, and to crown it all, this particular woman was dropped by Britain once the war was over and was then murdered while living in poverty in the early fifties.

  3. Alex 10 July 2012 at 9:26 pm Reply

    I’ve heard so many good things about this one! A 10/10 – wow!

  4. jenclair 13 July 2012 at 2:39 pm Reply

    I used the link, but will order through the U.S. Amazon. I love books about this era!

  5. Code Name Verity Review 29 December 2012 at 6:03 pm Reply

    […] Reading with Tea: “I was also very impressed by Wein’s use of secondary characters; the female German agent, the young daughters in the French family, and even Von Loewe, the evil German interrogator, are all complex characters, not mono-faceted.” […]

  6. […] (this review is really a whinge about how many “women’s fiction” novels are about infidelity and problems with pregnancy. Why can’t we have more books like Code Name Verity?) […]

  7. […] The other voice, Toller’s, irritates me – the story works well from Ruth’s perspective and is already split into past and present there. To intersperse with his perspective, in very late 30s or early 40s New York, to where he has fled Nazi persecution, breaks up the flow even more and it rankles. His narrative is sad, and worth telling, but this could have been separated out in the way in which Elizabeth Wein separates the narratives in Code Name Verity. […]

  8. Question | Reading With Tea 18 October 2014 at 5:00 pm Reply

    […] has no one made a film of Code Name Verity? […]

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