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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and harrowing tale that will stay with you.
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...
Published on 29 Sep 2000

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another view of Occupied France...
I bought this book for the author rather than the story, 'Birdsong' being one of the most powerful books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It certainly is a different kind of story (and War) and I only realised the connection with one of the Birdsong characters when I was well into this book. I cannot say I found it a riveting read for most of the book, but what comes...
Published on 18 Jun 2001 by rogermike


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and harrowing tale that will stay with you., 29 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich but deeply disturbing - not for the faint-hearted, 7 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful books I have ever read, 3 Nov 2002
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
"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
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: - Charlotte Gray; an emotional destabiliser, 13 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another view of Occupied France..., 18 Jun 2001
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
I bought this book for the author rather than the story, 'Birdsong' being one of the most powerful books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It certainly is a different kind of story (and War) and I only realised the connection with one of the Birdsong characters when I was well into this book. I cannot say I found it a riveting read for most of the book, but what comes across strongly is the internal struggle in France during the Second World War,not so much with the Occupier, but between the French themselves. This manifests itself in Charlotte Gray's dealings with individuals and the various factions, all of whom seem to have different agendas. Most hate the Germans, some the British, and some their own French countrymen.I had never appreciated the division and strength of feeling, and ultimately what it did to some, namely the Jewish people. What builds to an inevitible and awful conclusion in the last 50 or so pages of the book, eclipses the rest to the extent that nothing else seemed to have happened. It brings the Holocaust down to an individual level where the suffering is almost too much to contemplate, and focuses on three people, two of them young children, amongst the tide of humanity caught up in that horrendous and dark period of our social history. This is but a small part of the book, but will remain in one's mind for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight to read, 20 Oct 2002
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
I read this book having already read Birdsong to help with my English A Level last summer. WW2 is a period in history which both fascinates and appalls me, and I found this book exactly the same.
The way in which Faulkes writes about the deportation of the two Jewish boys i found particularily harrowing. Although i have read many eyewitness accounts of the deportation of the Jews, I found this fictional piece to be just as real and distressing.
The style of writing of this book kept me glued to it and really drew me into the story.
I would not agree with the earlier comment that Charlotte's relationship with her father is not an important part of the story. I found it interesting to see characters from Birdsong, i.e. Charlotte's father, in this book, and was intrigued to see what part they played in this war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Forget!, 2 Mar 2008
By 
C. Calisgil "Leyla" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
This, again, was a second reading and well worth it. Had I not read it directly after revisiting 'Birdsong', I would probably have rated it 5 stars. Birdsong, however, is one of the best novels I've ever read, and although CG is very good, it does pale a little by comparison. Charlotte Gray is the daughter of Colonel Gray, Stephen Wraysford's superior officer in Birdsong and this is the main connection between the two novels. Other reviewers here have already given very worthy comment on this novel, but I would like to add that the overwhelming feeling it left me with was that we must never forget what man did to fellow man - the fact that human beings are capable of such evil. I would thoroughly recommend this book - it's a harrowing, but gripping tale of wartime France and serves as a very real reminder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That bird stopped singing, 28 Mar 2012
This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
Like most other reviewers, I thoroughly enjoyed Birdsong and couldn't wait to start this book. From the very start I found it difficult to emotionally engage with the central characters and the book didn't get interesting until the scene changed to France.

For the entire book Charlotte and Peter Gregory (who was almost always referred to by his full name for some reason) remained just that......characters. Their love affair didn't ring true on any level and when he went missing during a mission I really didn't care if they found their way back to each other. I much preferred Julian and found him to be a more believable and rounded character (interesting how Charlotte still chose one-dimensional Peter Gregory over him - birds of a feather eh?).

The best part of the book for me was the description of the deportation of Levade and the two young Jewish boys to a concentration camp. It broke my heart. As a mother and as a human being I stayed awake that night thinking about the hell it must have been to be separated from your family and die such an unnecessary and cruel death. While the characters in this book are fictional, their story is most definitely real. I was also appalled at the large scale compliance with the Nazi regime within France.

Charlotte's reconciliation with her father was another sticking point for me. Boo hoo, he cried on your shoulder when you were a child!!! I think it contrasted sharply with what the two young boys suffered at a similar age and as a result her 'childhood trauma' registered as further evidence of all absorbing self-interest.

In summation, this book was longer than necessary and I think it should have focused more on Levade, Julian and the two boys and less on Charlotte and Peter Gregory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A so-so tale of life, love and hardships in the second world war, 2 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Charlotte Gray (Paperback)
Charlotte Gray, the eponymous heroine of Sebastian Faulks's novel about the second world war, is a young, beautiful and slightly naive Scottish girl, who travels to London to do her bit for the war effort. The opening chapters of the book see her meet two men who change the course of her life - Dick Cannerley, who finds her a job carrying out secret missions for the government, and Peter Gregory, an RAF airman with whom Charlotte falls in love. When Gregory goes missing after a routine flight to France, Charlotte feels she has no choice but to follow him. Falling in with members of the resistence in the small town of Lavaurette, Charlotte's life comes into sharp contact with the dark realities of life in occupied France.

I found Charlotte Gray an oddly disjointed novel in many ways. Scenes of action and adventure are intersposed with long, somewhat tedious descriptive passages. References to Proust sit uneasily alongside tales of wartime derring-do. An implausible, frankly irritating sub-plot about a childhood encounter with her father bubbles along in the background before reaching an all to easy resolution in the closing pages of the book. Overall, I found the novel to be unbalanced, skimming my way through endless paragraphs of tiresome text before slowing down to enjoy some rather fine story telling. The characterisation was patchy too. Some - Charlotte, Monsieur Levade, the little Duguay boys - were painted with great care and attention, taking vivid and realistic form as the story progressed. Others were sketched as mere outlines, fading to a dim memory almost before their part in the story had even passed. The final chapters, after Charlotte returns to England, tie up all the loose ends with surprising ease, refusing the reader the satisfaction that comes from a hard earned happy ending.

I gave this three stars because, to misquote the old adage, when it was good, it was very very good. But when it was bad it was - mediocre.
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Charlotte Gray
Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks (Hardcover - 24 Aug 1998)
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