The Burning Blue, by James Holland

Joss is a figher pilot who survives the Battle of Britain only to be posted in North Africa, where he's shot down just after receiving a letter from his fiance telling him that she's marrying someone else. As he recovers from his wounds, he remembers his earlier life and wonders whether he'll ever get home.

After reading That Summer, Amazon recommended a load of books, including some by James Holland. I started reading "A Pair of Silver Wings", but it sort of petered out. Then this book appeared in the library and I thought I'd give Holland another go.

And actually it was rather good - or at least, enjoyable and engaging. Not as good as That Summer but an effective tale of the same genre.

I seem to have read a few books lately set in WW2 and keep being impressed with how early in the war the Battle of Britain took place, and how significant it was. The battle scenes in the book were good - there was a fair amount of detail covering Joss's missions over the south coast - and I'm left again feeling rather in awe of what the pilots had to do.

One thing I hadn't realised before was how much the army, retreating via Dunkirk, resented the RAF for not providing them with air support. This came up in this book, when Joss and his friends were barracked when they met some of the soldiers who'd come back from France. And now I'm reading Atonement and the same situation occurs there (although in that case, the protagonist is one of the soldiers, so it's told from the other side).

The story was pretty much what you'd expect - couple in love; trying to make the most of the time they have; friends being killed; blackouts and rationing. It was a little bit spoiled by the ending, which felt rushed and incomplete, but apart from that I had no complaints.

So maybe I ought to try another James Holland.

Completed : 27-Jul-2009 (audiobook)

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