Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Code Name Verity #2
Publication Date: 6th June 2012
Time: 10hrs 7mins
Narrator: Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
Book Source: Own audio
Synopsis: Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women's concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force.
These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive. In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil.
Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity which I listened to last year and loved! You wouldn't be lost reading Rose Under Fire as a standalone but in order to get the very most from the experience I'd suggest reading Code Name Verity first. There's a crossover of characters and Rose Under Fire takes place shortly after Code Name Verity finishes. I thought Rose Under Fire was a simpler narrative to follow, it didn't have the same head-spin twist of Code Name Verity but both pack an emotional wallop.
Rose Under Fire is the story of Rose Justice, a young American Air Transport Auxillary pilot captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Ravensbrück. I liked that the focus in Ravensbrück was the political prisoners and Rose's experience 'adopted' by the Rabbits, the young Polish girls and women brutally experimented on and mutilated by Nazi doctors. The unspeakable horror they endured was difficult to listen to, I kept having to stop to breathe. a
But it's not the horror that stays with you, it's the womens' character, their friendship and unfailing loyalty, every brave, funny, stinking, bitter, sarcastic, hopeful, terrifying, uplifting story shared. Humanity shines even in the most evil, dehumanising situations.
Elizabeth Wein lists the 74 Polish women experimented on in Ravensbrück. This is a work of fiction but it's based on true accounts, in essence it is their story.
Narrators Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell were for the most part brilliant (again.) I say for the most part ... I'm not sure who narrated Roza but at first her 'voice' made me wince. It was the shrillest make-your-ears-bleed pitch but strangely enough as her story progressed her voice grated less. I'm not sure whether this would have been any easier to read rather than listen to but Rose and the girls; Roza, Elodie, Karolina, Irina, Lisette and Anna came to life and it tore my heart out.
I wonder sometimes whether generations to follow will feel distant or removed from these atrocities and then the truth hits, we haven't actually come that far. Amongst others, as the genocide of West Papuans by Indonesian military unfolds, it makes me weep. We seem to have learnt nothing.
Grab the tissues and pepare to be put through the wringer.