“I AM A COWARD.”
Thus starts Queenie’s account of her work as a British spy during WW II. Her story, written as a confession of her crimes as she’s being tortured by Nazis in Occupied France, comprises the first half of a taut WW II thriller about war and friendship in Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. Hands down, this is one of the best books I’ve read during the past year. This novel has been wildly popular among Eckhart Public Library’s staff and patrons who have read it. I was particularly pleased that it passed the Bechdel Test and maintained its focus on the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and the perils of spy work during wartime.
If you are interested in something a little different from traditional historical novels, why not try one set in an alternate history. Terry Pratchett’s Dodger is set in a simulacrum of Victorian England, and features Dodger, a witty tosher, who embarks on a grand adventure both above and below ground after helping a mysterious young woman escape her captors. Along the way, he encounters Charles Dickens (who feverishly writes down characters lines for his own future use), Benjamin Disraeli, Sweeney Todd, and others. Some of you will already be familiar with Pratchett’s comedic fantasy novels set in Discworld. If you haven’t read Pratchett before, Brandon Sanderson’s recent article at Tor.com provides a great introduction to his work.