Kiss Me, Hardy: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

June 3, 2013 Coming of Age, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Psychological, Women's Studies 34


Hey Bookworms. We’re being super secretive today because we’re talking about SPIES. This blog will self destruct in 15 seconds. Not really. I watched way too much Inspector Gadget as a kid. Anywho. I just finished reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and WOAH.


We begin our tale with a young Scottish woman who has been arrested in Nazi occupied France. She’s totally a spy and had the bad luck to be arrested after looking the wrong way while attempting to cross the street. (Funny story- in London, the streets all have warnings written in BIG YELLOW LETTERS on the pavement telling tourist pedestrians which way to look. Quite thoughtful, really.) Our Scotswoman is being tortured and has agreed to write a detailed confession in order to stave off the torture and buy herself some time before she’s executed.

It is through this confession that we learn her story. Our spy, who we may as well call by her code name, Verity, was recruited for special operations thanks to her exceptional language skills. Verity’s success as a polyglot (speaking English, French, and German) and her fair hair and complexion make her an ideal candidate as a secret operative. A blonde, blue eyed girl could pass for a Nazi, and the best way to undermine an operation is to infiltrate it. (On a side note, are the Scottish especially gifted with languages, or am I getting erroneous impressions thanks to delicious fiction? I mean, Jamie from Outlander spoke like every language ever. And looked good doing it. Mmmmm… Jamie…)

Verity’s BFF is named Maddie. Maddie is a badass lady pilot. World War II opened up a lot of opportunities for women, as such an enormous chunk of the menfolk were fighting. Spies. Pilots. Rosie the Riveter. You know how it is. Sisters stepped up and proved themselves every bit as capable as men. It makes my inner feminist so proud! Maddie and Verity met while serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Few things bind a friendship like mortal terror, and few things bring on mortal terror the way air raids do. Being shot at from the air and the intense conversations you have when you think you’re about to die create some serious bonds.

I can’t get too much into the story without revealing spoilers, so I’m going to keep this short. It’s so good I don’t want to spoil it! I will tell you that it reveals a side of women’s history that is rarely explored. It makes you put yourself into impossible situations and wonder how you’d hold up. Could you hack it? Could you make the tough choices? Could you do the unthinkable for your friend? Intense. Awesome. Read it!

So, Bookworms. Tell me. Do you have what it takes to be a spy? Do you think you’d crack under torture? I’m sure I’d make a horrendous spy, and I wouldn’t last a minute without spilling all the beans. Better not apply for a job in the CIA. But what about YOU?!

34 Responses to “Kiss Me, Hardy: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein”

  1. curiousseaturtle

    Oh I’d be awful! And I’d say things like, “Take her!! She knows all of the secrets!!” Even worse…I’d spill secrets for wine and chocolate.

  2. Jayne

    I’m glad to hear you liked this book. I read about it awhile back and have been thinking I’d like to pick it up but haven’t had a chance yet. Now I’ll definitely have to add it to my (always expanding) pile!

  3. Andi (@estellasrevenge)

    I’d be a horrible spy! And I started reading this book and punked out on page 75. I should probably try again because EVERYBODY loves it! And Jamie is hot. Superhot-McHotterson.

    • Words for Worms

      Superhot McHottershon is a fabulous Jamie descriptor. I got way more into the book in the second half. I recommend you give it another go :).

  4. acps927

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book but haven’t read it yet; it definitely sounds interesting! I would be a terrible spy because I am basically incapable of lying. I don’t understand the thing about crossing the street though… Aren’t you supposed to look BOTH ways?

  5. Samantha

    I’m pretty sure I’d be a terrible spy. I really wished that I would be a good spy when I was younger, but there’s no way. Spilling secrets would be a problem, athletic ability and being able to run away would be another. However, concealing my identity, etc. would probably be pretty easy for me.

    • Words for Worms

      I’m capable of keeping secrets, but I don’t love doing it. And I’m a really awful liar, so most of the time I don’t bother. I also kind of suck at concealing my identity. I’d get a fake name and then start speaking aloud to myself and give it all away.

  6. Megan M.

    I don’t know. I can be secretive and I have a pretty high pain threshold, but I blush furiously when I’ve been caught in a lie and I know for a fact that I couldn’t pass a polygraph test. **smirks as though the story behind that is nefarious**

      • Megan M.

        I had to take a polygraph as part of the interview process for a dispatching job. The test administrator practically giggled with glee when he saw my (test) response to telling a lie, said “It sure bothers you to not tell the truth!” and wished that “all of his polygraph results were so easy to score.” My dreams of ever becoming a Dexter-like vigilante were dashed.

  7. Sarah Says Read

    This… sounds better than I initially thought. Somehow I’ve seen it ALL over the blogosphere and never really read what it was about. I… feel like I would be an awesome spy if I had grown up all damaged in the head or something. But my general happiness in life these days would probably make me a terrible spy.

    And, high five for working Jamie into it 😉

    • Words for Worms

      Haha, thank you my dear. Seriously though, what’s with the Scots and languages? You’d think the brogue would make it harder for them…

  8. Jenny

    I think I’d be good at keeping my story straight — because I’m a good liar, and I’m good at talking myself into things — but my sense of direction is appalling, and I’m awful at reading maps. So taken altogether, nope, I’d be a terrible spy.

  9. Rhian

    Hmm, I’m excellent at keeping secrets and I’d like to *think* I’d hold out under torture. I can be kind of contrary which would help. I’m not a great liar but I’m a reasonable actress so I reckon I could play a role okay. On the downside, I’m monolingual and not very good at learning languages, so I could only spy in English-speaking countries. So I probably shouldn’t give up my day job!

    I’m glad you reviewed this book, because based on the cover, I would have assumed it was a ’50 shades’ type book which would not interest me at all. Another to add to the pile.

    P.S. I finally read The Fault in Our Stars. Thanks for the recommendation.

  10. Wayne

    The O.S.S. was the chief spy agency in the USA. It recruited a plethora of brave men and women to “pierce the reich”. A couple names that came across was Julia Childs and Moe Berg, a baseball player who spoke German fluently. It seems fitting that this topic has came up at this time, June 6th being the 69th Anniversary of the Allied forces landing in Normandy, France. By the way, The International Spy Museum is a privately owned museum dedicated to the field of espionage located within the 1875 Le Droit Building in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

  11. Wayne

    Why I would not be a good spy: (1.) You have to be fluent in the languages in the country you’re spying in and that usually means born in the country. (2.) What intelligence agencies are looking for now days is people that would probably work for Google or understand all the fine details of Linux. I’m not a tekkie geek. (3.) I have a low sensitivity for pain and I’m sure I wouldn’t like getting “water boarded” or worse.

  12. Wayne

    Smiley has decided to retire. He’s sitting home listening to the Theme from “The Third Man” 😉

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