Injured fighter pilot Mark Brabham recuperates at his uncle’s home in rural England in this World War II historical novel.
While the men (and some women) fought, those left behind (the old, the young and the female) did what they could to keep the home front secure, including guarding the coast and rooting out spies and enemy insurgents. Brabham, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot who learned to fly at his grandfather’s knee, eagerly enlisted in the RAF when he came of age but was shot down two months after joining his squadron. After his badly burned body had time to heal, the rest of his recuperation was spent at his pastor uncle’s home at Lavering-on-Sea. In short order, he was put to work helping out as much as a severely burned soldier could. In between trips back to the hospital, he spent his days leading the Scouts, helping to patrol the coastlines, and spending time with Elizabeth, a working-class evacuee who was working at a local farm and leading the Girl Scout troop. There are periods of excitement here, so the author clearly knows how to build tension, but it often takes too long for something to actually happen. Summers clearly cares about his subject; he offers a rare glimpse into life on the home front—from patrolling the beach to gas and meat rations to the town’s easy acceptance of London evacuees. He also has a strong protagonist in brave, personable Mark.
Long, slow stretches mar a novel that portrays life in the English countryside during the early days of World War II.