Published by Universe at Unicorn Publishing July 2020.
‘Eddie’s eyes returned to the front but not before they’d caught a bright flicker. The sun glinting on his wing? He knew better than that. The flicker grew into a flame which he could see without moving his head. It hurt to move his head and anyway at last he could see the coast ahead. The end to another perfect summer’s day. Both shoreline and water were burnished by the lowering sun. They merged into a mysterious, vibrating, possibly unobtainable line.
No! No! It was the wrong coast. ‘Get out, Eddie!’
If he was a bird, he’d land on the water, fold his wings and rock gently on the waves.
‘Jump out, now!’ Who was shouting at him?
Eva’s pale oval face stared at him with dark luminous eyes.’
Occasionally panoramic, more often intimate, Clouds of Love and War balances a detailed and highly researched picture of the life of an RAF Spitfire pilot with the travails and ambitions of a young woman too often on her own. The result is both a gripping story of war and a sensitive story of love, a love that struggles to survive.
Through the connecting stories of these young people and their wider families, and against a background of southern county airfields, London, Oxford, Dorset and France, Rachel brings the world of war time England, now eighty years in the past, back to life.
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2020 is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This was the first victory in the war against Hitler’s ambitions to rule the world. Thanks to the skill and bravery of a vastly outnumbered Royal Air Force, the great Luftwaffe was turned back from their aim to conquer the British skies as a first step to taking the land.
I was born during the Second World War and grew up in London and the country. The visual imagery of post war bomb sights and the sense that I had just missed being a part of a huge catastrophe that changed the lives of so many people, both civilians and in the services, made a deep impression. Those who fought with the RAF in the sky, particularly fascinated me because it was still such a new service and because it seemed so extraordinary that young pilots risked their lives in short bursts throughout the day before returning to relative safety at a base. They could even dash up to London or to their homes as long as they were back by dawn to face the possibility of a gruesome death. This was vastly different from my last historical novel, ‘Glory – A Story of Gallipoli’ where soldiers were posted on a desolate Turkish peninsular for months or longer.