My next choice on my list of 1001 books and authors you need to read before you die (9) is Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks of which some of you may have seen the movie starring Cate Blamchette in the title role.
Charlotte falls in love with a British Airman who is promptly shot down over occupied France during The Second World War. Determined to discover his fate, Charlotte travels overseas as a British Courier to work with the French Resistance Movement and try and locate her lost love but gets caught up in the events around her and soon learns some of the true horrors of war. Especially when she becomes involved with a number of Jewish families who are being hounded by their own friends, neighbours and countrymen!!
This was far different from what I was expecting and is no simple romantic spy drama but in reality a gripping portrait of a very grim period in our recent history! The pieces with some of the Jewish families are extremely moving, especially one chapter focusing on two boys whose parents have been already sent to Death camps, and there were many times reading this when I had a lump in my throat! I have not seen the film, and suspect it will have been hollywoodised and many of the more poignant moments dropped in favour of the romantic sub-plot, but this is truly one of my favourite books of all time! I have read a few other books by Faulks that in no way compared to this, so have reason to believe this is the best thing he has written, but have Birdsong still waiting on my TBR pile and will reserve judgement on whether he is a one-book wonder until I have digested that. Suffice to say, this is another of those books that you REALLY should read and gives you a REAL insight into what went on in Occupied France rather than the 'Allo 'Allo version. Not that I am dissing 'Allo 'Allo you understand, I enjoyed that show as much as anyone, but this gives a much more gritty and realistic depiction of what went on and reveals the true story behind the daft, slapstick comedy!