Monday, 19 September 2011

Charlotte Gray - Sebastian Faulks - Book Review

The blurb
From the bestselling author of Birdsong comes Charlotte Gray, the remarkable story of a young Scottish woman who becomes caught up in the effort to liberate Occupied France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own. In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a daring flight into France she is determined to find him. In the service of the Resistance, she travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity. Here she will come face-to-face with the harrowing truth of what took place during Europe's darkest years, and will confront a terrifying secret that threatens to cast its shadow over the remainder of her days. Vividly rendered, tremendously moving, and with a narrative sweep and power reminiscent of his novel Birdsong, Charlotte Gray confirms Sebastian Faulks as one of the finest novelists working today. 


I have to confess that I have not read Birdsong. I know, I know. I should be ashamed. And I am. But, when I first came to read it, I could just not get into the flow of the authors style. I have to say it was the same, in the beginning, for this novel.

However, I am beyond pleased that I persevered with this book, although it took me until page 200 something for it to click. After that I was besotted with it. Telling a story of love, loss and true grit within the confines of Occupied France, I followed the story of Miss Gray and the search for her missing lover.

That, alone, should have been enough to keep me enthralled, but it is the side characters that captured  my heart the most and became the most important to me. And lead me to openly weep on the train. Again.

The fine weaving of character plot and personality leads you to think not only on what was found during the Second World War, the likes of comraderie, strength and gumption but also what was lost.

This novel is technically the last installment of a triology that is preceeded by "Girl at the Lion d'Or" and "Birdsong" respectivly. But I did not notice anything connected to other books, so for me it is a stand alone. And well worth a butchers.

A 7/10 from me!    


  1. I am loving these little book club style posts of yours! I have read Birdsong some time ago now, and this has been one that I've been meaning to get around to reading too.Thank you!!
    Nattie x

  2. Hey Nattie - thanks! Pleased you like them :)

  3. This is one of THE books I am embarrassed that I haven't read! There was a time, a few years back, when every other commuter seemed to be reading this book!

  4. Great story! I haven't read the book but saw the film with Cate Blanchett. I am sure that the book has a lot more detail in it. I have not read Birdsong yet either.
    Isabelle x

  5. This is a great read and very tragic in parts. Although its fiction, you can imagine that similar circumstances did occur in WWII. Another thing for me, is the attention to detail - this can make or break a good story.

  6. Ooh, will have to give it a go. I liked Birdsong, but was wary of his other books for some reason. I also have this on DVD ready to watch but still haven't for some reason xx

  7. If you liked this you will LOVE Birdsong. its one of my favourite books and had me sobbing like a baby. Thanks for the lovely review. I loved Charlote Gray and you have just reminded me to revisit it.

  8. I've read all 3 & I can say Birdsong is the best.... you must read it! I've read it at least 10 times & love it. Charlotte Gray is good & there's a connection to Birdsong through the Captain :) x

  9. I'm the other way around, I am a firm fan of Birdsong, in fact, it's my favourite contemporary novel about the war. I find it truly heartbreaking, certain scenes left me physically shaking with emotion, NO book has ever done that to me before! (Fellow train commuters were probably quite concerned!)

    Perhaps the flow improves the further you read, i remember finding the first few chapters quite trying...but trust me, if you give it another bash, i'm sure you won't be disappointed!

    Right, i'm off to find myself a copy of Charlotte Grey, i must admit I found the film quite disappointing...but I am crossing my fingers for the book!

    Katie x

  10. I've read all three and liked The Girl at the Lion d'Or best and Charlotte Gray the least - partly I think because I have some knowledge of this era though my father and my own interest in this period of French history. But I have read and enjoyed almost of all his novels.

    BTW I found you via A Thrifty Mrs and rushed to your blog after you posted the comment, " Hoovering? Wassthatthen?" Hilarious and EXCACTLY my thought!

  11. Just finished Charlotte Gray and loved it. Whilst lying in the bath reading about the boys in the camp it made me feel really thankful for everything I have. Also noticed that Stephen Wraysford from Birdsong was mentioned as an old WW1 colleague of Charlotte's dad, and Hartmann, the man in charge of the staircase in the camp was from the Girl at the Lion D'Or. Feel like re-reading both of those books now.


I'd love to hear what you think so feel free to comment away!


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