Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein


What a peculiar book. I’m not entirely sure what I made of it.  It centred on the deadly serious subject of a (fictitious) young woman from Special Operations Executive being held and tortured by the Nazis, and yet it was written in the style of Bridget Jones meets Adrian Mole meets Allo Allo 🤔.

Two young women, best friends, were on an RAF plane which crashed over Occupied France.  The pilot was Maggie Brodatt, a working-class Jewish girl from Stockport.  That seemed like quite an unlikely background, and the surname Brodatt doesn’t even exist; but I suppose it was possible.  Also on board was Julia Beaufort-Stuart, a member of Special Operations Executive, an upper-class, Swiss-boarding-school-educated girl from a castle which sounded like a cross between Glamis and Balmoral.

Maggie managed to find British contacts there, and was disguised as the visiting cousin of a local French family, but Julia fell into the hands of the Nazis, and was tortured, and witnessed other prisoners being guillotined.

It sounded like a very deep and serious book, but it was written in a very light and flippant way.   Most of it was told in the first person, the majority by Julia, some by Maggie.  Some of it sounded a bit Allo Allo-ish, but the style was generally more reminiscent of Bridget Jones, with the repeated use of “dead” for “very” adding in a strong sense of Adrian Mole.   Also, a lot of the place names mentioned had been changed but only slightly, which was just odd – Oakway for Ringway, Reddyke for Reddish, Ladywell for Ladybower and Ilsmere Port for Ellesmere Port.

It kept me interested all the way through, but I just can’t make my mind up what I thought of the use of such a light style of writing for something as horrific as what happened to Julia, and for the entire picture of the extremely important work being done by both young women.  It was certainly something different!   As I said, it kept me interested, but it was just … strange!



6 thoughts on “Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. Now I loved this book, and none of your comments about the style and tone resonate with me. I find it fascinating that two people can read the same book and respond to it so differently. For me, it was powerful and heart-breaking. Once I’d finished it, I read The Pearl Thief which is set before Code Name Verity, although published much later. I almost couldn’t bear to read Julie’s earlier story knowing her end.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lot of people seemed to be reading this a few years ago, so I borrowed it from the library but couldn’t get into it and returned it unread. I wonder what the reason was for changing the place names – that seems strange!

    Liked by 2 people

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