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Charlotte Gray (French Trilogy #3)

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,322 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
Charlotte Gray is set in England and France during the darkest days of World War II, and its story is that of a young Scottish woman who falls in love with an RAF pilot shortly before his plane is lost over France. She contrives to go there herself to work in the Resistance and also to search for him, but then is unwilling to leave as she finds that the struggle for the co ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published February 2nd 1999 by Random House Trade (first published 1998)
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Violet wells
Bewildered this has such a decent rating. Perhaps everyone forgot how heavy-handed, sloppy, rambling and sometimes absurd this was until about page 300 when it does markedly get better. But it irritated me with its patronising subtext of female subservience to romantic imperatives. As if all those female SOE agents went to France principally for an amorous fling. And often the research was mopped over the surface with the subtlety of an industrial detergent.
Apr 14, 2011 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2013 Algernon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

'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
Apr 25, 2008 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2015 Amena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can I read it all again please? Superbly written. Beautiful characters. A powerful love. Strong relationships that surpass friendship. All amidst a war. The description of which you feel as if you are living the war with them. My first ever Faulks. Love love.
Dec 18, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
Feb 08, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 08, 2008 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Huw Rhys
Jan 06, 2011 Huw Rhys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a beautiful book - Sebastian Faulks gets it spot on, as usual.
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
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
Apr 10, 2014 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having loved Birdsong, I approached this novel with a weighty amount of expectation that was perhaps unfair and definitely not met.

I found Charlotte, the title character and driver of the novel's path to be disappointingly dependant, and really quite irritating. She seemed to gain independence to a certain degree once in France, but at not point did I feel she was an advocate for female power in the war effort, when her drive is built on finding a man.

Having said this, I do enjoy Faulks' writing
Mar 30, 2009 Lis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Dec 28, 2015 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic book set in wwII France and England. As historical fiction, it was fascinating to read. As a love story, it was sweet, but not overly and not maudlin. The secondary characters made the book. I found myself crying as a read about the inhumanity shown in this time period, but there were moments of hope too. I can't wait to read another book by this author.
Sep 19, 2012 Eileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the option was available I would have knocked off half a star for Faulks occasionally irritating choice of vocabulary ('exophlalmic' instead of 'bulging' to describe a character's eyes - really necessary?), but otherwise a terrific read.
Sep 15, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love it.war and women.....brill
Nov 06, 2015 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I am still taking this one in I know I do feel a bit bereft of leaving this story behind as it was so gripping.

Charlotte Gray is a young Scottish graduate of the French language who is destined for the role she carries out acting as a French national after being dropped in occupied territory on a secret mission. Sounded like an exciting story on the cover and bloody hell, it really is but I have to comment on Sebastian Faulk's electric ability to sum up the deepest parts of human natur
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
Jun 27, 2008 Alesa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2010 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2011 Geoff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
J S Williams
Jan 31, 2014 J S Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rosalind Minett
Oct 19, 2014 Rosalind Minett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well plotted. Thoroughly satisfying.

This novel brings out the sheer courage and risk-taking of both French and English in circumstances impossible to replicate today.
More than that, there are three very strongly-drawn characters. Altogether, not a novel to put down unless forced by the daily round!
Ely (Tea & Titles)
This has got to be one of the only books that I actually preferred the movie of. This was so much more boring and the ending wasn't nearly as good as the ending of the film. Kind of disappointed with this.
Jan 21, 2009 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen Whittard
This is my first Sebastian Faulks book I have read I was leant it by a friend who told me it was very hard to get into, and boy was she right. The first 200 pages or so we a real struggle to get through. I wanted to hurl the book at the wall and yell defeat. But I prevailed. I would love to say it got better and well it did for a bit. The devastation of the war was well written but the ending left me deflated. Not warming to the main character is a real bug bear of mine why have a main character ...more
May 27, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

Other Books in the Series

French Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Girl at the Lion d'Or
  • Birdsong

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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.” 31 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?” 19 likes
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