Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

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It is 1942 and Charlotte Gray travels from Scotland to help in the war effort in London. She soon meets Peter Gregory and although he is reluctant to become attached to anyone because of his job they are soon in a relationship of sorts. When Gregory, a pilot, goes missing on a drop off in France, Charlotte is devastated and throws herself into her own war work, a mission to deliver a man to a destination in France. Having completed this part of her task, Charlotte chooses to stay in Occupied France in the hope of learning of Gregory’s fate. She is quickly swept up in the world of the Resistance and the secretive nature of this movement, where she learns of the difficulties facing those in France, from the French Jews being deported to Poland to those trying to keep their head down and survive the war.

Charlotte Gray has been on my shelf for years, but I have never really paid it much attention, which is why I put it on my TBR Pile for 2014. I am really happy that I did this as it is well worth a read. To begin with I found it hard to get in to, but I think this is more to do with work and the craziness of November as opposed to it being a tricky book. However I found the closer to the end of the novel I got the more I wanted to stay awake a little bit later to finish it. The last third was particularly gripping, especially in its depiction of the deportation of French Jews, including two young boys. It was heartbreaking to read of their journey and although their fate was never explicitly mentioned, it is certainly not hard to imagine.

For a book I spent a fair few weeks reading I feel as though I can’t write much in this post. I finished it a few days ago and since then have had a parents’ evening and a Christmas Party so I think my brain has gone into shut down mode. It is a book I would recommend and I do feel a Reread of Birdsong in the pipeline, especially as I think there was a passing remark made towards the main character from that novel. What this review has taught me is that in order to write anything that makes any sense or even remotely links back to the book, I need to write a review pretty soon after finishing.

Challenges

The twelfth read in my TBR Pile 2014

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