“But I have told the truth. Isn’t that ironic? They sent me because I am so good at telling lies. But I have told the truth.”
This tale of two war-time friends, women doing men’s jobs, who would never have met had World War II not thrown them together. “Queenie” writes her confession and as much war information as possible down for her Nazi interrogators in an effort to escape further torture. She writes about meeting Maddie, a passionate pilot from Stockport, their secret trips around the UK delivering information, and their planned incursion into France. When we hear Maddie’s side of the story, Queenie evidently held back a bit…
Queenie’s confession is angry, afraid, vicious and submissive in equal measures. It takes a long time to realise that she’s an unreliable narrator, and I was still be surprised well towards the end of the novel. I loved that the girls’ two stories became intertwined towards the end, and there was a long resolution, time for everything to get neatly tied up and complete all those niggling plot questions.
The girls’ relationship is really strong, quite interesting actually. I wish they’d had a few more arguments to make the relationship more real; it seemed a little like hero worship. But both girls are very independent and strong-willed in different ways and they react to the crisis in very different and distinct ways. I was also very impressed by Wein’s use of secondary characters; the female German agent, the young daughters in the French family, and even Von Loewe, the evil German interrogator, are all complex characters, not mono-faceted.
Definitely recommended for a different perspective on working women in the mid-twentieth century, and for women in the war. And just for a great girls’ story in which men are not the primary discussion point!