Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
[My Review with Spoilers]
By the end of this book, I was so invested in the story, I was practically praying that Queenie and Maddie would make it out of France alive. This tale of friendship and valour, set in WW II, is beautifully crafted. The dual narratives of Queenie and Maddie are interwoven with various historical references and facts.
The plot is in no way simple and the author proceeds to casually reveal many deceptions in the second half of the book. With the switch of perspective (from Queenie to Maddie) comes another version of a story that they partially experienced together.
Both Maddie and Queenie are admirable in their bravery but it’s their loyalty to each other that really impressed me. Long after Maddie is assumed to be dead, Queenie continues to mourn her and their intricate friendship. Her despair is described so fluently, it’s a tangible thing that can be felt by the reader. Especially in the beginning, her situation is very bleak as she has been imprisoned by the Gestapo in a musty hotel. Yet as the story progresses, my heart grew lighter because I began to realize that the author wasn’t planning on letting Queenie die in the hotel.
Maddie is the female pilot who flies the plane into France to drop off Queenie. Unable to land properly, she thoroughly wrecks the plane and later these photos of wreckage are shared with Queenie to prove that Maddie is indeed dead. Simply brilliant at flying all manner of aircraft, Maddie proves to be an adventurous soul.
As they share their fears over tea and bread, these two become inseparable and go to extreme lengths to keep each other alive. Brilliant and thought-provoking, Queenie’s accounts of the torture she experienced brought tears to my eyes as I forced myself to read on.
Although there is much pain and grief contained within the pages of this book – it is also an uplifting novel that reminds you never to give up hope.