sunshine and stardust
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is the story of two women in World War II; Maddie is a pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary and ‘Verity’ works for the Special Operations Executive. Though they come from vastly different backgrounds, they become best friends in a dangerous world. Due to their strong personalities and numerous talents, they prove themselves to be valuable assets in their respective fields.
However, when a flight Maddie pilots goes wrong and Verity is forced to bail, things go from bad to worse. Soon, Verity is caught by the Nazis and horrifically tortured. In time she agrees to tell her story; beginning from when she first met Maddie.
Code Name Verity was a really interesting book because it was so well-researched. I felt like I was there with the characters and I knew how they were feeling most of the time. Though Maddie felt that Verity was so opposite to her and vice versa, they were actually more similar than they knew. They were brave, self-sacrificing and willing to take risks.
The story is divided into two parts. Verity narrates the first half from her prison, writing truths on old recipe cards and music sheets while a guard watches over her shoulder. Her narrative was unusual to read as she wrote about herself in the third person from Maddie’s point of view. Due to this, I learnt more about Maddie and her love of planes than the mysterious Verity. However, this seems intentional. I was continually wondering how Verity could possibly know what her friend was thinking as well as details of conversations Maddie had with other people.
The second half of the story is told from Maddie’s point of view. While I did like Verity’s narrative, Maddie’s felt much faster and full of action. It was great to read from her point of view as I got to see Verity in another light. The questions in the story were finally being answered and I was surprised by how good the climax was; quite unforgettable.
There were some very interesting secondary characters who I would have loved to have read more about such as Anna Engel and Jamie. Wein easily shows the reader how the characters on both sides of the channel feel about the war. Code Name Verity, at its core, is about the undying friendship between two women who go through so much heartbreak. There were some great descriptions, for example, when describing the view outside Maddie’s plane.
Code Name Verity starts slowly and there’s a lot of information about planes, however, once the story got going, I wanted to know how it would end. At times, I found events quite hard to believe, such as the Nazis allowing Verity’s insubordinate behaviour time and again without lasting punishment. This is definitely a book that you have to read and digest slowly as it is an emotional, character-driven story.
Overall, I enjoyed Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It felt very authentic due to the amount of research that went into the writing of the book. It reminded me slightly of Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise due to it being set partly in wartime France. I would recommend Code Name Verity to those interested in historical fiction, namely World War II, strong female characters and an inspiring story.
Very interesting review, thank you Kulsuma!