Set in England during the Battle of Britain in 1940, this story of love and war focuses on the friendship between Tadeusz, a Polish pilot, and Len, an R.A.F. sergeant who falls in love with an enticing WAAF.
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Andrew Greig is the prize-winning author of five books of poetry. The Clouds Above is his first novel to be published in the U.S.From Publishers Weekly:
From Scottish poet and novelist Greig (When They Lay Bare) comes this intensely lyrical and nostalgic novel of wartime love between a young RAF pilot and a comely radar trainee in 1940s England. When Sgt. Len Westbourne meets university-educated Stella Gardam at an RAF dance, it's probable that the difference in their social classes will preclude an intimate relationship. But as bombs begin to rain down on England, and dogfights erupt in the sky, their hesitant romance blossoms into something far more serious. Despite the wartime atmosphere, there's a curious lack of tension in Len and Stella's affair, but eventually their cautious avowal of love illustrates the real poignancy of common wartime liaisons. There are some moments in which Greig seems on the verge of capturing something unique and delicate, but the frequent changes in point of view somewhat dissipate the drama. Rather than focus on the urgency driving the lovers into each other's arms, Greig conveys the day-to-day details of wartime, the weariness and the fear, an atmosphere that grounds the tale in reality. The liveliest characters are Stella's buoyant friend Maddy and Len's equally boisterous counterpart, Polish pilot Tad, both of whom meet sad ends. With the WWII setting, the romance amid chaos and the author's previous work as a poet, the publisher is obviously hoping for comparisons with The English Patient. While Greig isn't quite a match for Ondaatje, his narrative slowly acquires depth and poignancy, and is sure to appeal to those in "the vanishing generation" to whom Greig dedicates his novel, who recall those days of courage and glory and loss.
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