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Charlotte Gray (French Trilogy #3)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  8,305 Ratings  ·  438 Reviews
In this concluding part of the French trilogy which began with The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Birdsong, it is 1942, and France in under Nazi occupation. Charlotte Gray travels to France to help the Resistance. But, unknown to her, she is being manipulated by people with no regard for her safety.
Audio CD, Unabridged, 14 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Chivers Audio Books (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.
If you strip this novel down to its central storyline it’s about a young woman who goes to France primarily to find her airman boyfriend who’s missing in action. In France she gets amorously involved with another man. She contributes nothing to the war effort. She’s not even in touch with London. In other words you could say it’s hugely disrespectful to the enormous bravery and dedication of the real female SOE agents who certainly didn’t go to France for amorous reasons.
These agents all belong
May 03, 2013 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.

Apr 06, 2011 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
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
Mar 19, 2008 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
Pam Baddeley
An interesting take on WWII from the point of view of agents who went into France to help the Resistance, but also a slightly odd romance novel. Charlotte Gray, the main character, is a Scottish girl who comes to London in 1942 to do 'something for the war effort' and almost by accident falls into working for a fictionalised version of Special Operations Executive (SOE). At the same time, she becomes obsessed with a daring airman, Peter Gregory, who also ends up flying missions for the same depa ...more
Feb 08, 2013 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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I found myself comparing this to other war titles by this author. In both Birdsong and Where My Heart Used to Beat there were two timelines. The look back at the war experience was an essential part of those novels. This is a WWII novel, told entirely during war time. Yes, there were two characters who had participated in The Great War, but there were only a few paragraphs telling how that war had wounded them, primarily psychologically.

This involved civilian participation in the war. Important
Mar 30, 2009 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
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2010 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
Aug 08, 2008 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.
Feb 08, 2008 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 29, 2015 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.
Huw Rhys
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a beautiful book - Sebastian Faulks gets it spot on, as usual.
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
Mar 05, 2011 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
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
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a totally new way of looking at the people of France during the Second War. We were always taught that it was fear of repercussions that kept the French quiescent during the first part of the war. Faulks says that there were a large number of people who felt that the Republic had lost its way, that the government was not providing leadership and that if they had to put up with the Germans in order to get some order and direction in the country then that is what they would do. T ...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
Jan 28, 2014 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
Nov 29, 2015 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.
Rosalind Minett
Oct 19, 2014 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!
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love it.war and women.....brill
I listened to this as an audio book, and much enjoyed the narrator's rendition of the characters esp. Charlotte's soft Scottish lilt.

So much could say about the novel -will be brief though. Charlotte the main character goes on a journey to occupied France during world war 2, undercover for 'G Section' in order to help the French resistance. But her bosses back in the UK don't know that she is also in France to find her lost airman lover. As she travels in France in the guise of an assumed ident
Ellie M
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book but didn't think it was as good as some of Sebastian Faulks other novels. On the plus side it educated me a bit more about France under occupation in WW2 - I noticed done reviewers didn't like that aspect of the novel but I thought it was handled well.

Charlotte, a young Scottish girl, meets Peter, an RAF pilot and romance ensues (I see Faulks was award a bad sex award and yes one scene was a bit cringy). Peter is of flying secret missions in France and crashes and goes missing
May 22, 2013 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
Jan 24, 2010 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
Feb 29, 2008 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
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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
“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?” 21 likes
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