Fair Stood the Wind for France, by H E Bates

When John Franklin's WW2 bomber crashes in occupied France, he and his crew find their way to a farm where they are helped by a French family. John has a badly wounded arm, which means he has restricted mobility, and so remains behind while the rest of the crew leave in an attempt to escape back home. John and Francoise, a girl living in the farmhouse, fall in love and when he eventually recovers enough, she comes with him as he tries to cross the country and reach Spain.

The main story here is of the romance between John and Francoise, which is a very strong bond, although the descriptions are rather understated: it becomes apparent more through their actions than their dialogue. The relationship between the airmen and their French helpers is also very affecting: I especially remember one scene where John says something like "there are some things for which no thanks are enough"; the response is "there are some things for which no thanks are necessary".

Although this shares a setting, and many themes, with In at the Kill, it's of a completely different standard. It's exciting and gripping, as well as being moving and romantic. Towards the end, where they risk being caught, my heart was sinking in anticipation of the disaster that I expected: I really felt for the characters in the book.

Completed : 29-Oct-2004 (audiobook)

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