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Charlotte Gray

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,581 ratings  ·  303 reviews
From the bestselling author of Birdsong comes Charlotte Gray, the remarkable story of a young Scottish woman who becomes caught up in the effort to liberate Occupied France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own.

In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a d...more
Paperback, 401 pages
Published July 11th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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World War II Fiction
60th out of 594 books — 962 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Even though I greatly enjoyed the majority of this ‘British lass battles the Nazis in France’ novel, I have to say that – after turning the final page – I’m somewhat disappointed. It’s a really good book and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wanted an incredibly well written tale of recent history. But still, it’s far from perfect and I’ll confess that, as I was working my way into it over the first hundred pages or so, there were moments when I was tempted to just hurl it agains...more

'It's not you, it's me!' : the classic break-up phrase is an apt resolution marking my falling out of enchantment with what is called 'The French Trilogy'. I had an easy time giving praise to The Girl of the Lion d'Or and I have rated Songbird a masterpiece - one of the best literary accounts of the Great War. In trying to pin down what didn't work this time, I'm reminded how much what I'm writing here is a matter of personal opinion, and not an attempt at objective literary citicism.

Jessica Ariwa
I had mixed feelings about this book. It shares many similarities with Birdsong, lovers, war, etc etc. The language is gorgeous, Faulks writes in a way that really engages the you. You feel as though you really know Charlotte, you almost feel what she feels. For me it felt as if all that was missing from this novel was a good story. For huge sections of the novel nothing happens at all. Faulks has seemed to have just focused on the travelling between places and writing out many conversations in...more
I thought that I would love this book. The plot sounded wonderful. Just the sort of thing that I would normally like. It takes place in WWII, in France, with a Scottish girl playing spy in a little village. But once her duties are over, she decided to stay in the village to try and seek out information about her lost lover, an English pilot who is MIA somewhere in France.

But something about the book just didn't click with me.

Charlotte's character seemed remote and rather boring. I didn't find...more
Perhaps, using a lot of " Carve her name with Pride " annotation in the storyline.
However, as masterfully written as other Faulks books. The book does
transport you straight into German Occupied France of WW2.
The omnipresent peril into which the herione has been placed is
vividly conveyed, and leaves the reader agitated for her continued

As the story progresses, the brutal reality of reprisals against
Allied espionage activity against the German war effort in France,
emphatically c...more
Charlotte Gray is Sebastian Faulk's second book on war. This one is on World War 2 and this time the heroine is female. Like "Birdsong" the character escapes into war after a painful love affair. This character becomes an agent in the French Underground movement which gives the novel a John LeCarre feel. There was an unfortunate film made from this novel which was very disappointing. The novel has far more substance and the author's imagery with words exceeds that of the film.
A lovely London drizzle of a book, giving back in atmosphere and mood what it lacks in comfort or pleasure. The care and research is so evident and painstaking, the writing so precise, it fools you that you’re not emotionally involved, so be prepared for emotional devastation when, in the last fifty pages, the author cuts all those beautiful cords he’s woven between the characters, leaving you winded.
I couldn't resist picking up this novel after reading the back cover. A young Scottish woman (Charlotte) follows her downed pilot lover (Peter Gregory) to France as a Secrete SOE-type agent to help the French Resistance, and perhaps even rescue Peter. The plot sounds very intriguing...unfortunately, the author didn't pull it off nearly as well as he could have. Peter Gregory disappears somewhere over France at the very beginning, and has very little to do with the remainder of the book. He's jus...more
This is an interesting novel, but, in retrospect, I feel that it didn't have quite enough of a plot to justify the length of it. I'd have to say that it's a psychological novel that takes an awful long time to explore the psychology if its main protagonist and reach its resolution. The incident of the Nazis and the Jews felt almost tacked on afterwards. It didn't really fit in with the rest of the book, somehow. The cover blurb describes this novel as 'harrowing' and I read almost the entire boo...more
I had high hopes for this book, because I absolutely loved Birdsong, but I found it left me rather unmoved. It's written in what seems, to me at least, to be a curiously detached style and it didn't seem to really penetrate beneath the surface of the characters. Even amidst the danger of Occupied France, SS officers on trains, children being sent to concentration camps, the collaboration and resistance of the French, I never really cared very much about what happened to the characters. The one p...more
This book was fantastic. I find Sebastian Faulks language and imagery fascinating. This has something to do with the fact that I am also fascinated by war literature, but also has much to do with Sebastian Faulks love story. His description of love, love for ones country and the epic love story between Charlotte and Gregory is simply stunning. His description of the landscapes he sets his charcters in was also beautiful. Beauty is juxtaposed with harrowing images of the 2nd world war, and partic...more
love it.war and women.....brill
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
Having recently read and admired 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks, I was keen to read Charlotte Gray. I loved it.
What a fascinating, at times terrifying journey she undertakes! We follow her journey from Scotland as she heads south to London to do her bit for the war effort, meeting various people who each alter the course of her life, and one of whom she falls in love with, and it becomes her destiny to follow him to France. But on arriving in France and uncovering the truth of the situation ther...more
Jun 27, 2008 Alesa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rachel and Neil
Okay, Sebastian Faulk is now my latest favorite author. This one is about WWII, and it's every bit as great as Birdsong. There were a couple of places where I felt he was rushing, as a writer, and a couple of other places where I thought the character motivation was a bit weak. But overall, it is more satisfying than Birdsong. He even has a few minor characters from Birdsong that make a brief appearance near the end. This book gives you a whole new perspective on French relationships with both B...more
Doing for the 2nd World War what he did for the 1st in "Birdsong", Sebastian Faulks presents a wonderful picture of life in France during the war years.

Charlotte Gray is sent to Occupied France to run an errand for an undercover special operations unit. However she has a mission of her own - to find her lover, and airman lost in action over France.

She stays in France, against her orders, and settles in the small town of Lauverette whilst she tries to find information about her lover. Hiding her...more
Charlotte Gray takes place in German-occupied France during WWII. Charlotte is a Scottish lass, with a love of France and fluent French, who is trained and sent over by the British not to be a spy, but to be a messenger. She, however, also goes with her own task: to find her lover who has not returned from a mission, and ends up staying on in France without permission from those who sent her to be of help to her contacts in France.

I am interested in reading stories about how people handle life...more
I felt for the characters in Charlotte Gray. The story was plausible and I wanted to know what happened next. Structurally too the novel was pretty good; the manipulation of tension within the story was expertly handled and for me that was part of the enjoyment.

What I didn't like were aspects of Faulks' style. He ascribes too much importance to everyday actions, as though everything in the book has some significant philosophical meaning. There is a place for this of course - how dull stories wou...more
J S Williams
I adored this book. I understand what others are saying about it feeling a little flabby and turgid - especially towards the middle - and one of the prinary issues with it is, I think, that Charlotte isn't a wholly convicing femal protagonist. However, saying that - I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have found my mind creeping back to scenes in the book more than once over the past few days. I think the key with this novel is not to expect it to be another 'Birdsong'. It's very different, but...more
Once upon a time Miss Sally was reading this book and told me I shouldn't read it because it was an adult book, so naturally I bought it, flew threw the gripping pages and then lent it to Mena (Sorry Miss Sally, my curiosity lacks restraint). Total pageturner, and not heavy in the least. Just a scene or two of Adultness I could have lived without, but if you're looking for something romantic and emotionally satisfying without the sacrifice of decent writing, check this out. It's not particularly...more
May 27, 2012 Alice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
A remarkable companion piece to A Train in Winter. Sebastian Faulks captures life in the French countryside as World War II is just beginning to turn against the Nazis with clarity of detail, beauty of language, compassion and horror. Charlotte Gray is a remarkable heroine in love with France and a British airman, she becomes increasingly involved in helping the French Resistance in her quest to find her lover, Peter Gregory. Her bravery and the limitations of that bravery are wonderfully portra...more
Until the last 15 pages of this book, I was positive it was going to be a 4-star review. Then the last 15 pages just felt like Faulks got tired of writing. Most of the book is a beautiful, painful story of love, loss, and patriotism, in the context of the French Resistance during World War II and the British assistance (more or less) of the Resistance. I ended up feeling much more sympathetic to many of the secondary characters than to Charlotte or her lost pilot. Overall, I'd probably give this...more
I only perservered with this book because of how much i enjoyed the previous two "french" books by Faulks. This is no where near as good. It rambles and stumbles and i know he thinks there is something deep here about identity and personality, but it fails to reveal itself in the turgid storyline. It does finally pick up the pace after about 350 pages of a 500 page book but too late to save itself.
David Powell
Not as strong an effort as Birdsong for me, and probably my third favourite in terms of Faulks' "French Trilogy".

The story is sad, romantic, hopeful and witty in all the right places as Faulks has proven to be a master of portraying but I felt that it went on for a bit too long- some of the characters, surprisingly, aren't all that relatable or enjoyable to read about, and that although being British didn't do a very good job of presenting or writing about the impact the war had on English soil...more
It always seems a bit 'off' to say one enjoyed a book that deals with harrowing subjects, so let's say instead that I appreciated this. It was certainly much better than the film, which I saw soon enough after reading to be all too aware of how the story had been adapted and what had been cut, and made me appreciate just how integral the descriptions of places and feelings were to the plot.

I'm not sure I completely followed the machinations in London that led to Charlotte's betrayal, but it did...more
Thomas Ullman
Charlotte Gray suffers a little in that it's not as good as Sebastian Faulks' WW1 novel, Birdsong. It is however still a very good read. Charlotte is recruited to British intelligence while travelling to London from Scotland. She is a fluent French speaker and is parachuted into France to help the resistance there.

Like all Faulks' books it is very well researched and he is a great storyteller. It also suffers a little because the film version (whilst good) changed the ending quite a bit...annoyi...more
Zara Aitken
Sebastian Faulks is a genius in his field. He has a remarkable capability for producing in me such a broad range of emotions in the space of a few pages. I found this book captivating and gripping, yet strangely frustrating at the same time. I think the frustration comes largely from the character of Charlotte Gray at the opening of the book. I think it's fair to say she is not exactly what you would call a compelling character but is rather a weak girl that you feel a measure of indifference to...more
Nadine Millar
Sebastian Faulks is a victim of his own brilliance. After Stephen and Isabelle and Frank and Mary you'd have to concede that he'd have been hard pressed to come up with three in a row. Especially when the love story is only stocking filler - I mean the real narrative is (always) about war;

This time it's WWII - and in particular France's occupation and the ambivalence of her citizens. I actually did learn rather a lot; it's historical fiction and Faulks is a master of the genre afterall. Charlot...more
I rarely buy books and then decide not to keep them, but I found this so dull and dry that I doubt I'll ever read it again, and I fully intend to try and sell or give it away. I couldn't feel any sense of identification or closeness with Charlotte, she seemed remote and not particularly interesting the whole time. She kept insisting that her love with Peter Gregory was, like, True Love but it didn't come across that way to me - I thought their relationship seemed entirely based on mutual physica...more
Ian Mapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Finally finished it! Oh my god, this book was like the albatross draped around my shoulders for about half of this year. Had to have two major breaks from reading it over the summer in order to get through it. He could definitely have written the story in about half the number of words.

I just can't understand how I can have liked Birdsong so much, but every other book I've read by Sebastian Faulks has been such a huge chore to get through. On Green Dolphin Street was the worst - I read the whol...more
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Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independe...more
More about Sebastian Faulks...
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“Memory is the only thing that binds you to earlier selves; for the rest, you become an entirely different being every decade or so, sloughing off the old persona, renewing and moving on. You are not who you were, he told her, nor who you will be.” 26 likes
“If at the one moment in your life when the chance of something transcendental is offered to you, if you have this chance to move beyond the surface of things, to understand - and you say, No, maybe not... What then? How do you explain the rest of your life to yourself? How do you pass the time until you die? Do you substitute for that an interest in what - eating? Do you spend the next sixty years trying to be fascinated by the act of breathing?” 17 likes
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