Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday-Code Name Verity

Out of fear of over-hyping this book, I will try to keep all gushing under control and won't tell you how very much I loved it. 

It is the story of an unlikely friendship. Maddie is a working class Jew and Julie is from a wealthy Scottish aristocratic family. They meet as female members of the WAAF in WWII.  The Nazis shoot their plane down and one is captured and held as a POW.  The story is actually her written confession to the Nazis and it is smart, funny, heroic, and tragic, and chocked full of literary allusions. If Lorelei Gilmore was ever a Nazi POW, this would be her story and I loved every single page.


Quotes I like:

"Don't you think it makes them stronger when you give them someone to despise? They look at me sniveling in the corner and think, "Mon Dieu.  Don't ever let me be like her".

"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."

"I have heard a good many people say that is (the war) is leveling hte British class system. Leveling is prehaps too strong a word, but it is certainly mixing us up a bit." 

"You know, I speak German because I love German.  What good was a degree in German literature going to do me?  I was reading it because I loved it.  Deutschland, das Land der Dicther und Denker, land of poets and thinkers.  And now I will never even see Germany, unless they send me to Ravensbrueck-I will never see Berlin, or Cologne, or Dresden-or the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley, the blue Danube. I hate you, Adolf Hitler, you selfish wee beastie of a man, keeping Germany all to yourself. YOU RUIN EVERYTHING. "

  I've actually lived in Germany for 11 years and adored the beauty,culture, food (really big fan of the food), the history and feel the exactly the same away about the Nazis.  How could one country produce Beethoven, Saurbraten, beautiful castles, kinder Eggs big soft pretzels, and Hitler? We all agree Nazis were evil, but even though Hitler died 30 years before I was even born, I take what he did to Germany a little personally

Winston Churchill said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” 

Mommy warnings: It's about WWII, so there is some violence, but I didn't find it overly graphic.  There is some language.
Have you read it?  What's the best book you've read lately?

This would be great for book club-here's some questions (Some of them from here.  WARNING: Don't read them until after you read the book or it will spoil it.
  1. Why is SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden keeping "Verity" alive and imprisoned at the Château de Bordeaux? Why do you think he is willing to give her so much time to write her confession?

  2. At the beginning of Code Name Verity, "Verity" starts her confessional story from Maddie's perspective rather than her own. Why? Were you surprised when she reaveals herself.  
  3. In "Kittyhawk," part two of the book, the author changes narrators from "Verity" to Maddie. Does this change your expectations of what's going to happen? Does having two narrators detract from the story or strengthen it? Why?
  4. Throughout the book, the author makes a number of allusions and refers to a good many poets and authors. What are some of the most significant allusions? How do you think these literary and historical influences help deepen your understanding of the characters? Did it remind anyone else of the Gilmore Girls?

  5. How well do we really get to know Julie ("Verity")? What of her confession is "true"? She ends her confession by repeating and repeating "I have told the truth." What truths has she shared?

  6. What are your impressions of Anna Engel? Is she a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

  7. Maddie makes a life-or-death choice that you will probably never have to face. Given a similar bond of friendship, what would you do if you were in a situation that required you to hurt someone you loved?

  8. If you were Julie's mother, how would you have reacted to Maddie's choice?
  9. Would a romance between Jamie and Maddie work out?
  10. If you were living at France at the time, would you have been a member of the resistance?  Would it make a difference if you had children?
  11. SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden has a daughter very similar to Julie that he supposedly loves.  How do you think torturing Julie effects him?  Is is an evil sadist or just following orders?
  12. Through-out the book, both girls list and then change their 10 fears.  What are some of your fears and have they changed since you were a teenager?
  13. "I have heard a good many people say that is (the war) is leveling the British class system. Leveling is perhaps too strong a word, but it is certainly mixing us up a bit." (p. 119) thoughts?
  14. Julie could endure every manner of torture, but could not deal with being called "Brittish".  Do you think it was an act?  
  15. How could the same family produce Etienne and a large part of the local resitance?

Tons of great stuff about the book  (inculding the fact that the author is a pilot herself) here