I AM FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS.
So. I read this just after Feeling Sorry for Celia (which, I may have mentioned, was hilarious), and the name ‘Verity’ and World War II remind me of nothing so much as Connie Willis (who is dryly hilarious) so I start reading this and I’m all Pffft, this isn’t funny.
And the fact that Doomsday Book exists in the world almost made me knock half a caterpillar off of this one, but that’s not fair because not every book needs to be filled with banter and whimsy as well as pathos (HAHAHAHA that is a funny joke I made there because yes it does).
But, so. Our narrator is trapped behind enemy lines during WWII, and is being interrogated by the Nazis, and has earned a bit of a reprieve by promising to write down All The Things, which is what you are reading. She has already given the Nazis muchas informationes in exchange for, like, her sweater back, and now she’s spinning out her time, Scheherazade-style, by explaining how she came to be where she is. Which necessitates explaining how she and her pilot, Maddie (now deceased) came to be bffs before Maddie flew the narrator over France and the plane got shot down and the narrator had to bail and then got herself caught by ze Nazis.
And there are lurking horrors, only glanced at. The torture all happens off-screen, but IT IS THE NAZIS, so. You know. And the narrator, this passionate, fiery Scotswoman, she is by turns stalwart and gibbering. I mean, Nazi interrogators.
And she’s writing for her captors, obviously, and you KNOW that, but you FORGET, and then halfway through a Thing happens, and you Find Out Some Stuff and you spend the rest of the book going back to re-read the first bits because a-whaaaa? Unreliable narrators, I treasure you.
I have a very wild and aggressive affection for books about strong, flawed, spirited female characters (and not ‘spirited’ like how romance novels mean ‘spirited,’ which is to say red-headed and fiery and coltish) and I maintain a burning candle of love for books about friendship and this book is the Bechdel-est. And it’s not HA HA HOW DROLL but it’s no Cormac McCarthy-esque grim-fest.
I can’t even get into the second half of the book because OH MY GOD THE SPOILERS. And then, and then.
READ IT PLEASE NOW BECAUSE WE HAVE TO TALK. Ana from The Book Smugglers (with whom my venn diagram of Books We Enjoy overlaps the most out of LITERALLY ANYONE ANYWHERE EVER) gave it a perfect ten (you should go read her review, as it is more comprehensive and less giffy), and at first I was like, Ehhh, and then I was like, This is quite good eh wot, and then I was like
and then also
So. Ten caterpillars.