Narrated by the protagonists, this story has a distinct young person’s tone but the tale it tells is definitely an adult one. Set against the background of the Second World War, it is a story of friendship, one so strong that in the end it results in death but not perhaps as one would perceive at the outset. It is told in two parts, firstly by Julia and then by Maddie. These two young women meet up during the war. Julia is a Scottish aristocrat, Maddie from a working class home, but they become firm friends. By chance Maddie then flies her friend to France to work there for Special Operations Executive (SOE). Things go awry and the plane crash lands after Julia has parachuted out. Maddie is found by the Resistance but Julia is caught by making a fatal mistake, that of looking the wrong way for traffic. The story starts with Julia confessing, having revealed the codes for the eleven wireless sets, the wreckage of which are found in the burnt out plane. Or is she? The ‘confession’ is in the form of a first person narrative telling of her friendship with Maddie and the difficulties she has with the German interrogator and his assistant, Frau Engel. Maddie picks up the story in the second part of the book, but this time it is told from a different angle. Julia’s story is shown to be part of an attempt to give information to the Resistance to destroy the Gestapo headquarters where she is being held. The Resistance carry out a daring raid on a convoy taking Julia and other prisoners to a concentration camp, but this goes disastrously wrong and in a chilling episode Julia is killed by her best friend, seemingly at her own request.
This book takes it time to unravel the story, slowly gripping the reader who wonders if Julia is really the traitor she seems, and until the denouement there is no hint of the truth. Maddie’s predicament when her friend calls out to her is heartbreaking and while a bit incredible makes for a rattling good story. Both young women are strong characters, and the class divide is credibly drawn as a result of war bringing together disparate people. The wartime background is convincing, catching the ephemeral nature of life at that time, and the whole makes for an unputdownable book.