NOTE: I received early access to this book through netgalley.com in exchange for an impartial review. Scheduled publication: April 6, 2021.
Based partly on a true story and from an author I admire, this is a World War II historical novel with a decent enough plot that suffers from episodes of excessive detail and over-writing. Awarded three stars on Goodreads but 3.5 stars is probably more accurate.
Wes Bowers is an American officer working in London during the time of the London Blitz. The United States has not yet entered the war so Wes is NOT immediately accepted by his British comrades, even though they are collaborating on the extremely dangerous task of bomb disposal. As these relationships improve over time there are some quite touching moments.
During the course of his work, Wes meets a young woman, Audrey Stocking, who chaperones young children, sent by their parents to the English countryside, to escape the dangers of German bombing. Wes and Audrey are immediately attracted to one another. But Audrey, who suffers from periodic panic attacks, has secrets she isn’t sharing.
The plot is unpredictable, with a few surprise twists. And centers around the slow revealing of Audrey’s secrets.
Certainly lots of dramatic potential here, with soldiers diffusing unexploded bombs in the middle of a large city and a woman harboring secrets. But the book seemed very “male” to me. Probably because I felt more emphasis was placed on the men’s work and relationships PLUS what to me felt like an excessive about of detail about the bombs themselves. Like how fuses differ, how they work, and the different approaches required to diffuse each type. To me, this information was exceedingly dry and dull, each instance just one more delay in the unfolding of the plot.
I also referenced above what felt TO ME like instances of overwriting. I found that particularly true at the start of the book. For me, too many literary devices sprinkled within convoluted sentence structure. Here’s one example from page one, describing the release of a bomb from an airplane: “Faster, closer, wilder, causing the wind to exhale, the sky to shiver, the clouds to arch aside, all fleeing its frightening shrill, a battle cry to remember the Heimat, the cherished German motherland.“
Overall, I recommend the book, though I think those who will like it best are those who enjoy stories about World War II, bombs, the London Blitz, and refugees. If I were going to recommend a book by this author though, it would more likely be a later novel, THE RENT COLLECTOR.
More about the author, Camron Wright.
You may be interested in my review of Wright’s book, The Rent Collector.