Thursday, 29 July 2010

Charlottte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

A beautiful novel about hope, loss and combat set in a World War II backdrop.  
Horrors of war are described in minute detail and the use of synasthaesia help heighten the impact. The juxtaposition between the different atmospheres and situations experienced by the characters is skilfully used to transport the reader between the accounts, which link together. Although the story is told in the third person, you are able to feel each character's conflicts and emotion. The multiple accounts do not isolate you, instead they involve the reader and keep them gripped by the events that unfold.
The use of historical background and the accurate detail with which events are unfolded intensify the drama.
Compelling, moving and haunting. Powerful, emotional and painfully descriptive. A wonderful read and a definite war literature must-read.

Favourite quotations:

“Charlotte pulled back the door of the compartment and stepped out. Levade had told her one day that there was no such thing as a coherent human personality. When you are forty you have no cell in your body that you had at eighteen. It was the same, he said, with your character. 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 are, he told her. Nor who you will be.”

“She could still recall the feeling of intense separation from the world that meeting Gregory had induced in her. She had never really believed that It would work out happily, she had hoped, but she had not believed. Before she left Edinburgh, her father had warned her that it was dangerous ever to think that one had solved buried problems of memory and fear. The human desire for neatness, he said, would always ultimately be defeated by the chaos of the mind’s own truths” – p486.

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