Do you remember when I wrote about how much I love love loved Code Name Verity? (Hey, if you don’t click here!) The fact that the people in that book were not real still makes my heart hurt. (But, good news – the companion novel Rose Under Fire was also amazing.)

Anyway, one of the things I really loved about CNV was in the author’s notes at the end, where Elizabeth Wein outlined how she struggled to come up with a way in which her characters would have had enough ink to write their stories. She researched and came up with a plausible situation based on the circumstances in which the ballpoint pen was invented.

Now, truth be told, I would not have given a second (or a first) thought as to how the characters were writing, but I love that she worked that detail in. Some readers are really into well-developed characters, and some readers prioritize the plot over the characters, but I am a reader that can get really hung up on the details. (This spills over into my life outside of reading, for better and for worse.)

I read the terrible follow-up to The Nanny Diaries, Nanny Returns, and I was really turned off by the fact that the two main characters had supposedly spent years living abroad doing international development work in Sweden, Haiti, and throughout Africa…and had their golden retriever with them everywhere they went. Right.  I just finished Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, and I felt the narrator’s credibility was shot when, in describing a rural southeast Missouri town of 2000 people, she suggested that a Starbucks might be built there. Having lived in a rural southeast Kansas town 90 minutes from the nearest Starbucks, I found that to be a profoundly stupid unrealistic statement.

Anyway, I love meticulously researched historical fiction, such as Elizabeth Wein’s. I love when I end up learning something unexpected, and when I finish a book wanting to know more about that time and place. The part I sometimes hate about historical fiction is not knowing the true story. I love reading speculative stories, like The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and Alice I Have Been – but then I want to know what the full story is!

For that reason, I like reading meticulously researched non-fiction as well – I loved reading the personal accounts included in A History of the Wife. And, need I remind you again why I think Erik Larson is the bees knees for writing nonfiction that flows as smoothly as a novel – a really really gripping novel at that.

So, details. Am I the only one who gets hung up on the little things? Any amazing historical fiction recommendations?

Review: Code Name Verity


Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Well, we took a bit of a Christmas hiatus, and there may be a New Year’s hiatus (you’ll have to ask Amanda. She is in charge of hiatuses), but anyway, I am bursting with excitement over how much I loved this book, so I had to tell you about it RIGHT NOW. Only I’m not going to tell you much.

When Amanda told me that I must read Code Name Verity, the conversation was something like: “you must read this. I don’t want to tell you anything about it and give anything away, so just read it.”

I finally listened (six months or so later), and that is exactly what I want to say about this book: You must read this. I don’t want to tell you anything about it and give anything away, so just read it.

Worst book review ever, eh?

Okay, let me try and expand (slightly). Code Name Verity is the story of a young British woman caught by Nazis in Occupied France.

Here is the basic basic description from the jacket: “Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

And here is a list of things that happened to me whilst reading this book, in no particular order:

1) I fell in love with all the characters. (Well, not ALL of them, obviously. Some of them are awful people. But I am in love with all the good ones.)

2) My mind exploded. (I texted Amanda halfway through to tell her that.)

3) My heart broke, but in the best way possible. (Probably more than once.)

4) I fell in love with the author, especially when I read these details on the jacket about her: “She is an avid flyer of small planes. She also holds a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennslyvania.” (Did you know that was even a thing?)

5. I fell more in love with the author reading her “debriefing” at the end, where she wrote: “it pains me to admit that Code Name Verity is fiction – that [names withheld] are not actually real people.” (For the record, the author lists the names in her note, but I withholding them. It’s part of the story. I am serious – don’t read any reviews or comments on this book. Just go read it, now. You can thank me later.)

Parting Words: I’ve decided to try and add a line or two that jumps out at me from each book to my reviews. Here goes:

“Maddie gasped at the river’s inadvertent loveliness, and all at once she found herself spilling childish tears, not just for her own beseiged island, but for all of Europe. How could everything have come so fearfully and thoroughly unraveled?”