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Charlotte Gray [Paperback]

Sebastian Faulks
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 July 1999

In 1942, Charlotte Gray, a young scottish woman, goes to Occupied France on a dual mission - officially, to run an apparently simple errand for a British special operations group and unofficially, to search for her lover, an English airman who has gone missing in action. In the small town of Lavaurette, Sebastian Faulks presents a microcosm of France and its agony in 'the black years'. Here is the full range of collaboration, from the tacit to the enthusiastic, as well as examples of extraordinary courage and altruism. Through the local resistance chief Julien, Charlotte meets his father, a Jewish painter whose inspiration has failed him.

In a series of shocking narrative climaxes in which the full extent of French collusion in the Nazi holocaust is delineated, Faulks brings the story to a resolution of redemptive love. In the delicacy of its writing, the intimacy of its characterisation and its powerful narrative scenes of harrowing public events, Charlotte Gray is a worthy successor to Birdsong.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099394316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099394310
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sebastian Faulks was born in April 1953. Before becoming a full-time writer in 1991, he worked as a journalist. His French trilogy - The Girl at the Lion d'Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) - established him in the front rank of British novelists. UK sales of Birdsong exceed 2,500,000 copies, and for this novel he was named "Author of the Year" by the British Book Awards in 1995. It is regularly voted one of the nation's favourite books. Charlotte Gray has also sold over a million copies and was filmed with Cate Blanchett in the main part.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Sebastian Faulks established his authority as a storyteller with his best-selling Birdsong. His next book, Charlotte Gray, a haunting story of love and war set in London and occupied France in 1942-3, is loosely a sequel. Charlotte is a highly educated young Scottish woman who falls passionately in love with an airman, Peter Gregory, emotionally scarred by his many close brushes with death. When he disappears on a mission to France, she follows him as a British secret courier, sent over to help support the Resistance. Having failed to find Gregory, she decides to stay on to do what she can for the France she has loved since childhood. She and the reader are drawn ever deeper into the lives of assimilated French Jews-- the children Andre and Jacob whose parents have already been sent to the death camps, and the Levades, father and son. Though ultimately powerless to help, Charlotte nevertheless learns a far deeper understanding of herself and her own family through them.

This is a book full of insight into the way civilisation can slip into barbarism. Its haunting themes of memory and passion stay with you long after you have finished reading. --Lisa Jardine


"With Charlotte Gray, Sebastian Faulks completes a trilogy of novels set in France... It is an impressive body of work... The most impressive novelist of his generation" (Sunday Telegraph)

"It would take a mile-long essay to do justice to the many virtues of Sebastian Faulks's wonderful novel. This riveting account of a young woman's odyssey...deserves the highest praise... Masterful narrative and zestful pen-portraits. A beautiful near-masterpiece" (John Murray Independent on Sunday)

"Excruciatingly powerful" (Daily Telegraph)

"Novelists are masters of the imagination. Faulks is beyound doubt a master" (Financial Times)

"A brilliant, harrowing, powerful novel" (Daily Mail)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
While carrying out under cover activities for British intelligence in occupied France, Charlotte Gray goes in search of her lover - an RAF pilot who has gone missing in France. But don't be deceived, this is no straight forwrd love story. Her journey takes her through a country riven by anti-English sentiment and anti-semitism. Through the Jewish characters she encounters in the resistance movement and their tragic fate, Charlotte is able to see her own life in a new and more complete perspective. This is a wonderful novel that perfectly captures time and place. The characters and sentiments all feel true to the period. And the passages towards the end of the book concerning the treatment of innocent young children in the concentration camp in Poland are heart-rending and harrowing in the extreme. The politics and oppressiveness of the Vichy regime are very well conveyed. This haunting book will stay with you for a long time.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Having only ever read (and enjoyed) Faulks' "Birdsong" before I looked forward to meeting Charlotte Gray. I was not disappointed.
This is a moving and disturbing story of one young woman's experiences as an undercover courier in France during the 1940's. Charlotte comes over almost as an anti-hero, she is at once sophisticated yet naive, caring yet callous, brave yet timid (or foolhardy?). Although the main plot revolves around her attempts to track down her English lover, reported as missing in action after being shot down over France, this is NOT a love story. The imagery created by the narrative puts you deep in the heart of war-torn France, with all the personal conflicts and emotions of the people involved on all sides. The sub-plot around the two Jewish boys, tragically separated from their parents ... is the most moving part of the book. Told through their eyes, we feel their innocence and the way they instinctively trust and follow any adult they come into contact with, secure in the mistaken belief that they will one day be reunited with their parents. WE know what is happening to them - THEY don't. Their final scene ... almost made me cry. We should all be ashamed of man's inhumanity to man at times of war. Charlotte too, in tracing the boys to a "work camp", herself naively believes that the boys will only to put to work. We never know if she realises at the end exactly how far from the truth she was ...
The book's only flaw is the half-hearted attempt to examine Charlotte's relationship with her father. I felt it had no real bearing on the development of her character ...
All in all, a great read. But prepare to be traumatised, and have some misconceptions about the French Resistance movement shattered.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Charlotte Gray" is one of those books that you cannot put down. It is an amazing novel showing the courage of a young woman who wants to save her lover and who wants to meet her childhood self by going back to France, the place that she loved so much.
In her undercover adventure she meets and becomes friends with people that without the war she would never have had the chance to meet, yet because of the war she also loses some of them in painful and demeaning circumstances. The novel brilliantly conveys what life must have been like in 1940's France and the descriptions of the concentration camps are terrifyingly realistic. This novel is one of love, romance, friendships and trust. It is well worth a read.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than Birdsong 18 Mar 2002
By A Customer
I seem to be alone in not finding Birdsong the most marvellous book ever - possibly because I read it just after Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy, which I found much more involving.
The problem I had with Birdsong was that, when reading about an event in which millions of people died, I find it hard to care about a single love affair. It is very difficult to write about such tragic and all-consuming world events without reducing the love lives of two single people to triviality.
Charlotte Grey somehow transcended this, making the love plot both moving, involving and seemingly symbolic of all the hope and suffering that participants in the war must have experienced. The beautiful writing and marvellously realised, convincing and sympathetic characters give the affair a sense of universality. Even against the grim and traumatic backdrop of the Vichy government's collaberation with the Germans and their seemingly enthusiastic participation in the persecution of the Jews, Charlotte's love affair and her struggle for personal happiness seem both engrossing and important.
On top of that, I found it a real page-turner - couldn't stop reading it. Great, great book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Little does the unwary reader suspect how their emotions will be squeezed, stirred and hung out to dry as they follow Charlotte Gray into war - torn 1940's France. Sebastian Faulks has again produced a novel of great power and perception, which, coupled with his extraordinary ability to breath life into his characters, makes Charlotte Gray one of the most deeply disturbing novels I have ever read. Yet, as with Birdsong, having ruthlessly exposed the horrific inhumanity of man during times of conflict, Faulks shows us the sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, the hope which makes it all bearable. The images spinning off the pages of this book will live with you for a LONG time. Mr Faulks, you are a dangerous man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
Love Sebastian Faulks' work
Published 16 days ago by Yvonne & Phillip
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark depiction of an appalling time
This is a harrowing tale which depicts a dark past in Vichy France during World War II. The treatment of Jewish people was appalling - I knew about Germany and Poland - but France... Read more
Published 18 days ago by markr
4.0 out of 5 stars Carol Dean
Because it was a true story as Charlotte Grey was a very brave women during the Second World War. As were many other brave women and men
Published 2 months ago by carol dean
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for Sebastian Faulks fans and lovers of wartime dramas.
Very intriguing story behind the French resistance in its many forms in early 1940s. Faulks evokes the war-time era very well both home and in France and as always demonstrates his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pen man
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
Charlotte Gray is possibly my favourite novel by Sebastian Faulks who never disappoints when it comes to well written wartime novels. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Monsster
5.0 out of 5 stars One of three
I found Birdsong so overwhelming I could never think of reading it again. But Charlotte Gray I have read twice and thought it excellent both times. Oh to be loved by such a woman. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andy Graham, Truro
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Typical excellent novel from Faulks. The book differs from the film, different ending and the plot varies a
Iittle. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mike Brunwin
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
I really enjoyed the film of this book and I certainly enjoyed the book. It is written very clearly and holds the attention of the reader until the last page.
Published 5 months ago by jeff
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok.
This was supposed to be one of the great books of it's time so I looked forward to reading it. I have to say I found some parts of it a bit slow. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. Julie Holt
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a patch on Birdsong!
I was very much looking forward to reading this book, having read Birdsong some years ago, which I thought was a tremendous read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by MRS S L HILL
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