Audiobook Review: Code Name Verity

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Originally, Code Name Verity was granted by Netgalley and Doubleday Canada back in 2012. ūüėČ Yes, that is a number of years ago…(sheepishly shrugging) but…we did eventually get to it right? ūüôā

It was always a title that interested me and when found that it was on sale at Audible, I purchased the audio version instead. Extremely pleased with that decision! Extremely. Over the moon pleased.

Code Name Verity was a Terrific story – with a Capital T! Add to that the fantastic narration and you have the recipe for a story I thoroughly enjoyed listening to each day, back and forth, to and from work. It’s one of those where you find excuses to drive around aimlessly, just so you can spend a little more time listening.

Gripping and emotionally rich, this novel is an unforgettable account of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery.

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War Two: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet, whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they’ve ever believed in is put to the test…

In Part I we hear from Queenie/Julie, code name Verity, which is narrated by Morven Christie. Together they made this story the terrific and enthralling one that it was for me.¬† Queenie, as she initially identifies herself,¬†¬†is being beaten and tortured for information at the hands of the Gestapo. She had made a critical and very stupid error while simply crossing the street¬†when on assignment in France. This cost her freedom. In her heartbreaking account, she describes how willingly she gives up information in order to have her clothes back, give up anything in order to be given a blanket. She has watched other prisoners die, has listened to unthinkable torture and is surviving by a thread. She is certain she is facing death – whether in one of the concentration camps or¬† inside the prison she¬†has been in for the past many weeks. She is given scraps of paper to write her account, and she does so including numerous details of her friendship with a pilot,¬†Maddie. Is Queenie giving away the secrets? Or, is she weaving a complicated web of lies? When we reach the end of Part I we are left hanging, on the edge of our seats, biting our nails and anticipating what is about to happen to her. Morven Christie’s narration in this Part I¬†is sublime. It is simply wonderful – she even breaks into song in two parts of her story! She sounds as though she is actually crying during the parts when Queenie/Verity/Julie breaks down, and she consistently narrates¬†using a broken, exhausted, terrified¬†and heartbreaking detailed voice. I absolutely adored listening to this part of the story, even though it ripped my heart apart. (I have since learned she has narrated Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I will certainly be purchasing this audiobook next, like it was purchased yesterday!)

Part II is narrated by Lucy Gaskell as Maddie, code name Kitty Hawk (a little silly right?, but whatever, it didn’t kill it too much for me). Maddie is the pilot that flew Julie into occupied France. Her plane is hit, so she must evacuate Julie first before attempting to crash land. Julie doesn’t know if she’s landed the plane safely or not, although pictures taken of the crash are shown to Julie during her interrogation. In this Part II, we hear Maddie’s story, also giving details of the valued friendship with Julie, and of the work being done to uncover the whereabouts of Julie and finish their originally intended¬†mission. Lucy Gaskell’s narration is good, but not as wonderful as Christie’s, but the story itself doesn’t let up as we follow Maddie along in this tale.

The ending is a tear-jerker for certain, yet ends with great satisfaction. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this story, and the narration of it. For some reason, Code Name Verity is listed/housed within the YA genre. It is nothing of the sort? As one Goodreads reviewer quipped Рit is about as YA as her coffee table.  5 stars for this wonderful story that was elevated considerably through its superb narration.

And I’m scrambling to find more audiobooks narrated by Morven Christie….AND, most certainly, will be reading the second book in this series, Rose Under Fire.

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