This is one of the best books I’ve read. Ever.
As soon as I had this thought I realised it’s the kind of bold statement you rarely utter as an adult. Children often say it, but when you’re older you are aware of just how many wonderful books there are in the world, and it gets harder to justify.
I really like WWII novels, but that’s not why. Code Name Verity could have been merely an exciting war adventure. It is extremely thrilling, but it is also so much more. It’s a story of love and friendship, and quite a lot of early ‘women’s lib.’
It’s about two young women who end up in France during the war. One of them appears to be dead, and the other waits to be executed. I am no expert, but it strikes me as being very realistic. The dangers are real. The horror of it all is awfully real. While some things go well, many also go wrong.
Queenie is in France as an SOE agent, and Maddie is the pilot who flew her there in her Lysander plane. They are unlikely friends, coming from totally different backgrounds. But I have rarely read about a more beautiful friendship, and this is despite the fact they are apart more than they are together.
At times I sat there with a smile on my lips, while crying at the same time because it was simply so dreadful to contemplate what must happen. But still so beautiful. Strangely, this is a humourous book, in all its awfulness. The voices of Queenie and Maddie are quite special, of the kind you rarely encounter.
I learned a lot about WWII. New things I didn’t know before. And for all the hardships experienced by people in Britain, it was worse in Europe. I’d never thought about this, but I think it must be true. I also know far more about planes now. Elizabeth Wein is a pilot herself, and it shows. And for an American she writes Scots really well. She also had the unusual idea of making Maddie a Stockport girl.
I like that.