Monday, 11 June 2012

Review: Fair Stood the Wind for France by H.E. Bates

It feels like a long time has passed since I've written a decent review of an adult novel on here, so what better book to write about than the lovely Fair Stood the Wind for France by H.E. Bates. I discovered this fantastic Penguin Modern Classic on the shelves at Dymocks a few months ago. At that point, I had never heard of the novel, though I was aware of the author through his novel The Darling Buds of May and the subsequent television series of the same name that starred a young Catherine Zeta Jones. Anyway, this is a book that isn't to be confused with the delightful Larkin family. Rather it is a tale of a British Air Force pilot who finds himself injured and relying on the kindness of locals (many of them risking their own lives,) when his plane crashes in Occupied France during World War Two. John Franklin's arm is badly injured. After an amputation, he is nursed back to health by Françoise, the strong willed daughter of a farmer. Slowly, the pair fall in love and begin a dangerous journey by boat, bicycle and train to England. 

Although parts of the novel were gory and quite disturbing (it was a novel set in wartime after all and had mentions of amputations and suicides,) I thought this was quite a beautiful story of how love and loyalty could sustain a couple who otherwise had nothing. Published before the end of World War Two, Fair Stood the Wind For France was H.E. Bates first commercially successful novel and in my opinion, one of his best.