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Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

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One of Louise Wener's favourite books.

When asked on Desert Island Discs how and why he “writes women so extraordinarily well”, Faulks replied: “we are now allowed to admit I think - those wars having been fought and won - that there are small but significant differences between most men and most women. And one of the more interesting ones to play around with is the idea that men don't really inspect in a continuous way their inner lives and feelings and the development of their states of mind - whereas women tend to keep a more running audit. And it seems to me that this gives some dramatic possibility to a novelist."

This is why if you saw and were disappointed by the film that this book inspired, you should give the printed word a go. Faulks has a remarkable ability to get inside people’s heads and write stories that evolve through people’s thoughts as well as actions – and this is the story of Charlotte Gray and why it is such a good book.

July 2009 Guest Editor Louise Wener on Charlotte Gray by SEBASTIAN FAULKS
This is a wonderful book. A haunting story of love and war set in London and occupied France in 1942-3. It's an intensely moving and passionate novel, full of insight into the way ordinary people can so easily slip into barbarism. Tremendously effecting, it has stayed with me since I first read it some years ago. On top of the gorgeous and provocative writing, the narrative is utterly gripping and sustaining.

If you like Sebastian Faulks you might also like to read books by Rebecca West, Pat Barker and Pat Barker.


Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

In 1942, Charlotte Gray, a young scottish woman, goes to Occupied France on a dual mission: to run an apparently simple errand for a British special oeprations group and 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 enthusistic, 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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'A beautiful near-masterpiece' Independent on Sunday

'A brilliant, harrowing, powerful novel' Daily Mail

'Excruciatingly powerful' Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks was born and brought up in Newbury, Berkshire. He worked in journalism before starting to write books. He is best known for the French trilogy, The Girl at the Lion d'Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) and is also the author of a triple biography, The Fatal Englishman (1996); a small book of literary parodies, Pistache (2006); and the novels Human Traces (2005) and Engleby (2007). He lives in London with his wife and their three children. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1993 and appointed CBE for services to literature in 2002. He lives in London with his wife and their three children.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st May 1999


Sebastian Faulks

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512 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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