Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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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!