Code Name Verity & Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

These books are stand alone, although there are characters who appear in both. If you are interested in both, start with Code Name Verity. What is so special about these books is that they both have strong female characters. Furthermore, both women play important roles in the Second World War, roles that are not well known or acknowledged.


This book is about a spy in the war who has been captured in France by the Germans and is being tortured for information about the English. Her friend is a fighter pilot and is desperately trying to set her free. The story is told in two parts – first by the spy and then by the pilot friend and it is only by reading both accounts that the reader can fully understand the true story.

The story line is tough but fascinating – a thriller. The spy is an SOE agent and as you read you find it hard to believe what she is writing. Then her story stops and her friend, the pilot, takes over and suddenly everything falls into place. The way the book is written makes you feel like you are part of this secret and frightening world.


Rose is an American girl working in the UK during WW2 as a ATA pilot, delivering planes and pilots for the RAF. She loves flying and poetry and would love to be a combat pilot. However, so far, her experience of the war is restricted to air raid warnings and the death of a fellow ATA pilot to whom she was not close. She thinks herself very lucky to have managed to be chosen as the pilot on a mission to Paris towards the end of the war. However, the trip turns out to be the start of Rose’s real war when she finds herself interred in Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp.

The story starts gently enough with the description of Rose’s ATA duties, with only hints of the dangers and sadness of war. Then Rose finds herself in Ravenbruck and it is as much a shock for her as for the reader. I read with fascination and horror about life in the camp and, despite having read about concentration camps before, I found myself questioning whether the story was based on truth or imagination. It is based on the truth and it is beautifully written. Books like this remind us of events which we should never forget, but what is special about this book is that it is done so movingly and without sensationalism. A beautiful story which, despite all it recounts, offers the promise of hope and the belief in the strength of the human spirit.

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