Blog tour: The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein
Hey everyone! I’m here today with my stop on The Enigma Game‘s blog tour, and I’m thrilled to be welcoming Elizabeth to share a wonderful guest post with you all. I hope you’re all keeping safe and well in these trying times, and that this post brings a bit of brightness to your day.
The Enigma Game is the newest novel in Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity universe. I’m yet to start the series (#shame) but I’ve been advised by someone who has read all of the books that it is best to read them in publication order, as there are cameos from previous characters and it makes it far more enjoyable if you already know them when they appear!
If you’d like to learn more about Elizabeth Wein’s previous novels, check out her Goodreads page: it’s probably the best way to decide for yourself whether you’re happy to read The Enigma Game without reading the other books in the universe first, or whether you want to read them in order like me.
If you’d like to learn more about The Enigma Game, however, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out a bit more about it:
Windyedge Airfield, Scotland. World War II.
Louisa Adair, newly orphaned and shunned for her mixed-race heritage, has come here to the edge of the world to look after an old lady with a dark past. Jamie Beaufort-Stuart is a flight lieutenant whose squadron is posted to the airfield over winter. Ellen McEwan is a young woman held hostage by the German pilot who lands at Windyedge one wild stormy night carrying a terrible secret.
Three young people desperate to make a difference in a war that has decimated their families, friends and country. When the means to change the course of history falls into their hands, how will they use it? And when the enemy comes looking for them, who will have the courage to strike back?
A thrilling story of wartime secrets, international intrigue and wild courage from the award-winning author of Code Name Verity, with three young heroes you’ll never forget.
Now I’ll pass you over to Elizabeth, who is here to share some thoughts on perception and belonging in The Enigma Game.
Living as a stranger in a strange land for most of my life, I’ve learned to make myself feel at home wherever I am. I am good at nesting. This is perhaps the quality that I most share with the main character of The Enigma Game, Louisa Adair. At fifteen, orphaned by bombs during the Battle of Britain, Louisa is determined to make a new life for herself using what’s available. The need to find work and support herself is a given, but what makes Louisa so relatable to me is the way she lines up her favourite books on the windowsill of an unfamiliar bedroom.
I think that my ability to make myself at home wherever I am has grown out of the feeling that I don’t entirely belong anywhere. My American accent makes me an alien at home in Scotland, and my European connections make me an alien in my native United States – even though I’m a citizen of both countries. Louisa has this same trouble. In 1940 her brown skin makes her instantly alien on British soil, but her polite English accent will distance her from her Jamaican family if she ever goes back to the Caribbean. Louisa will always have to live with never quite belonging anywhere.
I once said that I’m incapable of creating a straightforward villain, because as soon as I make one up he sprouts a daughter and a beautiful singing voice and a taste for underground literature (von Linden, the Gestapo interrogator in Code Name Verity). In fact, I’m incapable of creating any kind of straightforward character, because I’m always so interested in their backstories and their secrets.
So, in The Enigma Game, Louisa the transplanted Jamaican-born English girl gets work looking after a retired German opera singer who goes by the English alias Jane Warner. Neither one of them is exactly who she seems. In public, Jane hides her German origins, and Louisa hides behind her accent on the telephone. But they aren’t the only characters in the book who want to hide aspects of their identities. Ellen McEwen, who works at the local Royal Air Force base, hides her own Traveller heritage. When the bomber pilot Jamie gets tipped off about where to find his targets, he hides his source from his commanding officer. Elisabeth Lind, who turns up as a German interpreter, is carefully hiding her own connections to Jamie.
The Enigma Game‘s three different narrators, Louisa, Ellen, and Jamie, all have different points of view to bring to the story, and as a writer I’ve really enjoyed being able to play with the way the different characters perceive each other and their complex histories. My challenge, as the engineer of the story, is to make it feel as though these very different people really do belong together in the world of the novel – that their sense of belonging and connection is based, not on their heritage or in their location, but in their interactions with each other and with their community.
I think that’s true for me as well. It’s a pleasure to find readers who are eager to share my imaginings, helping me to broaden my own complicated community with a sense of belonging.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Elizabeth, for writing such a lovely post for us today, and to Faye for letting me take part in the blog tour for The Enigma Game. I’ve owned Code Name Verity for as long as I can remember and I don’t know why I keep putting off reading it, but this is definitely a series I’m going to be discovering sooner rather than later.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and I’ll see you soon!