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Sebastian Faulks: Charlotte Gray

Faulks tries to do to the Second World War as he did to the First World War in Birdsong. Sadly, he does not succeed. Charlotte Gray is a young Scottish woman, who comes to London during World War II. She eventually falls in love with a pilot and gets a job with an organisation involved with the resistance in France. The pilot crashes in France and she goes off to France to find him. We get involved in her adventures and the politics of the French Resistance (most of the groups seem more intent in resisting each other rather than the Germans). But the whole thing does not come off. The love story is tame and predictable and it seems to me highly unlikely, despite Faulks’ note at the end that the portrait he gives is fully accurate, for Charlotte, a Scottish woman whose French is pretty good but not 100%, to go swanning off round France on her own during the War. Neither Charlotte nor her French friends seem particularly interesting and, by the end, you do not care whether she marries the pilot (of course she does). You just want the war to end.

Publishing history

First published 1998 by Hutchinson