I’m very pleased to be opening the blog tour for Rachel Billington’s latest novel, Clouds of Love and War. My thanks to the team at Bookollective for inviting me to participate.
Published by Unicorn on 15th July 2020, Clouds of Love and War is available for purchase here.
Clouds of Love and War
Occasionally panoramic, more often intimate, in Clouds of Love and War author Rachel Billington balances a detailed and highly researched picture of the life of a Second World War 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.
Eddie and Eva meet on the eve of the Second World War. Eddie only wants to be a flyer, to find escape in the clouds from his own complicated family. However, the Battle of Britain makes a pilot’s life a dangerous way to flee reality.
Eva has her own passionate longing: to become a painter. When Eva’s Jewish mother disappears to Germany, she is left alone with her elderly father. Both Eddie and Eva come of age at a time that teaches them that happiness is always fleeting, but there are things worth living – or dying – for.
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 Billington brings the world of war time England, now eighty years in the past, back to life.
My review of Clouds of Love and War
Eddie and Eva’s relationship starts as WW2 begins.
Clouds of Love and War is a sweeping narrative set against the backdrop of the Second World War that takes the reader on a journey thorough time and place.
Rachel Billington’s research is meticulous so that the reader has a clear insight into the era, the world of a fighter pilot and the upper middle classes as well as into the lives of those leading more prosaic lives, particularly some of the women in the story. This makes for an interesting blend of writing.
I have to confess that it rook me a very long time to warm to Eddie’s frenetic character and yet by the end of Clouds of Love and War I felt I had been on his journey of self-discovery with him very effectively and I understood and appreciated him much more. Indeed, I found the women far more empathetic. Eva’s desperate desire to become a painter and the events that happen to her felt quite moving at times and I liked her more than Eddie. It’s not possible to say too much more without plot spoilers because who they are and who they become is so very much part of the story.
The themes are clear and well developed. I enjoyed the frequent literary references although occasionally the more spiritual elements sat slightly uncomfortably for me, but that says more about me than Clouds of Love and War. The exploration of relationships, valour, endeavour, war and self awareness is very thorough so that there is something for all readers to take away from Rachel Billington’s writing.
Clouds of Love and War will very much appeal to those who like to be transported back to another era and especially to readers looking for a tale founded in well researched factual assiduousness.
About Rachel Billington
Rachel Billington worked in television in London and New York before taking up full-time writing in 1968. Her first novel All Things Nice was set in sixties New York. Her latest novel for adults is Clouds of Love and War, about a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War and the girl who falls in love with him.
Rachel Billington has written twenty three novels, one novella, several books for children, and three non-fiction books.
She has also written and continues to write journalism for newspapers both in the UK and the US, including a three year stint as a columnist for The Sunday Telegraph.
Rachel Billington has written two plays for television, Don’t be Silly’ and ‘Life after Death’, both in the BBC Play for To-day series, and several radio plays, as well as contributing to film scripts.
For further information, visit Rachel’s website.
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