My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before I discuss this book, I need to share a few things.
Firstly – the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test (available here) is a test which assesses the representation of women in media. The test consists of three parts: : (a) there have to be at least two women characters, (b) and these women need to talk to to each other, and (c) their conversation must not revolve around a man. It’s a fascinating test and an eye-opening one when you apply it to some particularly well-loved franchises.
Secondly – I recently visited Bletchley Park. Bletchley, for those who don’t know, was massively influential in the Second World War and remains a genuinely stunning place. There’s a really rather mad everyday feel to Bletchley, a sort of matter-of-fact aura to this place where very normal people (and incredibly talented people) changed the course of history.
So, finally, to Code Name Verity. It took me a while to get into this book. It’s a little dense at the start, a fog-bound text in a aura of confusion. Who – what – why is this being written?
It all becomes clearer as the voice comes through. And it’s a strong, pure, beautiful voice. Julie. A woman caught behind enemy lines. A spy. A Scot. A wild, lovely, vivid creation. Julie begins to tell her story with a furious verve that, once you catch it, doesn’t let you go
Code Name Verity is a stunner. It’s a fragile, brittle, rock-hard book full of contradictions. It’s full of humanity. It’s full of reality. Julie – and her best friend Maddie – are beautiful creations that shift through a whole range of emotions and you can’t help but go along for the ride.
This is a book about women. Brave, bold and brilliant women who are defined by, and for, each other.
Code Name Verity is harrowing. But it’s also curiously uplifting. Even in the darkest of moments, there is always some light. It’s a fascinating, powerful and fragile book that’s so very worthy of losing yourself in.