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Treacherous mud clutched at the wheels and the Wellington up-ended. End of mission. The great bomber had been giving the crew trouble since leaving Italy. Finally over occupied France, it settles like a weary, wounded eagle on what seemed to Franklin a hard, smooth field. The five members of the crew were welded by the crash into a single whole, one tiny forged weapon in t Treacherous mud clutched at the wheels and the Wellington up-ended. End of mission. The great bomber had been giving the crew trouble since leaving Italy. Finally over occupied France, it settles like a weary, wounded eagle on what seemed to Franklin a hard, smooth field. The five members of the crew were welded by the crash into a single whole, one tiny forged weapon in the vast territory of the enemy--weak and ineffectual--yet confident as only men can be whose minds are free. Francoise's family accepted them calmly. In Francoise it was faith, a simple piety so humble, so complete that all the mechanized myrmidons of the Reich could not touch her spirit. In her father it was stubbornness, that glorious pigheadedness of the French peasant who won't be pushed around. In her grandmother it was a kinship with the infinite. Having survived two wars, she remained unmoved by the swaggering vainglory of the Nazi. And in Pierre it was hatred, a hatred so deep that only rarely did it flash on the surface. It was natural that Francoise should be so strongly drawn to Franklin, the pilot. His gentle strength, his sensitive mind, the careful restrained warmth of his emotion found a calm, sure response in the simple innocence and candor of the girl. All through the delirious pain of his torn, wounded arm, Franklin felt the girl's presence like a cool, comforting hand. In the end it was her courage and, above all, her faith which saved him--saved him--not only from the enemy but from himself.


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Treacherous mud clutched at the wheels and the Wellington up-ended. End of mission. The great bomber had been giving the crew trouble since leaving Italy. Finally over occupied France, it settles like a weary, wounded eagle on what seemed to Franklin a hard, smooth field. The five members of the crew were welded by the crash into a single whole, one tiny forged weapon in t Treacherous mud clutched at the wheels and the Wellington up-ended. End of mission. The great bomber had been giving the crew trouble since leaving Italy. Finally over occupied France, it settles like a weary, wounded eagle on what seemed to Franklin a hard, smooth field. The five members of the crew were welded by the crash into a single whole, one tiny forged weapon in the vast territory of the enemy--weak and ineffectual--yet confident as only men can be whose minds are free. Francoise's family accepted them calmly. In Francoise it was faith, a simple piety so humble, so complete that all the mechanized myrmidons of the Reich could not touch her spirit. In her father it was stubbornness, that glorious pigheadedness of the French peasant who won't be pushed around. In her grandmother it was a kinship with the infinite. Having survived two wars, she remained unmoved by the swaggering vainglory of the Nazi. And in Pierre it was hatred, a hatred so deep that only rarely did it flash on the surface. It was natural that Francoise should be so strongly drawn to Franklin, the pilot. His gentle strength, his sensitive mind, the careful restrained warmth of his emotion found a calm, sure response in the simple innocence and candor of the girl. All through the delirious pain of his torn, wounded arm, Franklin felt the girl's presence like a cool, comforting hand. In the end it was her courage and, above all, her faith which saved him--saved him--not only from the enemy but from himself.

30 review for Fair Stood the Wind for France

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This novel is problematic. To anyone poised to attack me with the specious argument that the novel reflects the moral orthodoxy of the time and can therefore be exempt from any criticism in this department: beware, your efforts to enlighten me will be in vain. Fair Stood the Wind for France is astoundingly insensitive towards the French Occupation and the entire dynamic of the novel is typical of wartime propaganda: Allied heroism and moral rectitude is a shining beacon against the ignominy of t This novel is problematic. To anyone poised to attack me with the specious argument that the novel reflects the moral orthodoxy of the time and can therefore be exempt from any criticism in this department: beware, your efforts to enlighten me will be in vain. Fair Stood the Wind for France is astoundingly insensitive towards the French Occupation and the entire dynamic of the novel is typical of wartime propaganda: Allied heroism and moral rectitude is a shining beacon against the ignominy of the French surrender. But perhaps the meat of this review is that I will always be angered by authors that champion a brave woman's sexual appeal to a greater extent than her courage. For a novel marketed as a story of redemption, resistance and romance, this is remarkably devoid of emotion. This renders Fair Stood the Wind for France all the more compromised when we consider that the plot is very much driven by a fanciful relationship between a downed British airman and a young French woman. Despite the language barrier (somewhat compromised by Franklin’s rusty yet serviceable French), the two fall irrevocably in love. Except that they don’t. They really, really don’t. Franklin’s entire attitude towards his love-interest reads like a predatory old man. Hear me out. This love-interest in question is a sweet, unworldly girl named Françoise. Yet, Françoise is very rarely ever referred to as Françoise. Bates takes great pains to dehumanise her with the definite article: to friends, family and lovers, Françoise is known as ‘the girl’. ‘The girl’ is perhaps appropriate for the first third of the novel, but once the couple are on more… intimate terms, surely Franklin could manage to humanise her with her own given name? Their relationship escalates absurdly fast and seems to bud from nowhere but Françoise’s sex appeal. Franklin cannot describe any event without paying an interminable tribute to her ‘clear, dark eyes’ or ‘smooth breasts beneath her blouse’. No, they don’t connect on any psychological level either - unsurprisingly. In turn, her unfounded and specious devotion to Franklin belies any of the agency she exhibits elsewhere in the novel: it is her only apparent motivation. Not the state of her country, or the fates of her mother, brother or her father. Give me one solid character trait of Françoise, go on, I dare you. Franklin preys upon her naivete and apparent lack of life experience. She functions as no more than a plot device: sure, she helps save Franklin on more than one occasion, but she is never established as a real character; she doesn’t gather a personality, just in the way that the other French characters remain stereotypically gauzy, aloof and whimsical. And let’s not forget the frequent incidents of what read like sexual assault. Franklin is constantly touching her up, without Françoise giving him any reason to believe that she consents to this. No, I’m not nitpicking, read this: Franklin, after partially removing Françoise's blouse and being told not to, whines, "You said you'd do anything for me." Then, following said assault/tryst, he asks (oh so tenderly, as Bates likes to remind us) : "Did you mind what happened to-night?" Did she mind? Did she MIND? 'No' means no. On a fundamental level, the style is incredibly dated. Bates relies extensively on exposition, and his prose is extremely repetitive in its word choice and phrasing. Awkward adverbs include ‘acidly’ (not in the modern sense, but referring to bile, nausea and other bodily fluids - nice) and the euphemism ‘sickness’ to describe vomit. Unfortunately, much of the tension that raises its head in the final two chapters is compromised by this sort of circumlocution. But there are redeeming factors. Of course there must be. The banter of the squadron is wonderfully endearing and the ambience of the French landscape is exquisite. There is also one profound act of sacrifice at the very end of the novel which adds a shade of redemption and perhaps the only compelling moment of the entire story. And the opening ending certainly saved us from the saccharine crap that would inevitably have followed. Wow, I can’t believe how angry this made me, especially on a reread. This should have, in theory, done much for women in roles of resistance. Instead, it does a profound disservice to Françoise and almost belittles the sacrifices that she made. Why can’t brave, resourceful and reasoning women exist without the unnecessary burden of sex appeal?! At least I should be grateful that the war is certainly not as sentimentalised as so many modern interpretations are these days. Travesties like The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Nightingale, I’m looking at you. I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had hoped: oh, Françoise, honey. Snap out of it, girl! It’s a shame, Mr Bates - you were doing really well, too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I finished “Fair Stood the Wind for France” this morning, which gripped me to the last paragraph. I’ve read endless novels about the war but this was one of the most reflective, one which really tried to take a singular human view of the cataclysmic world events. While it affirmed that life goes on, and even flourishes in such circumstances, that the human spirit can triumph in adversity, it also heavily underlined the “agony of all that was happening in the world”. It was very moving in a quite I finished “Fair Stood the Wind for France” this morning, which gripped me to the last paragraph. I’ve read endless novels about the war but this was one of the most reflective, one which really tried to take a singular human view of the cataclysmic world events. While it affirmed that life goes on, and even flourishes in such circumstances, that the human spirit can triumph in adversity, it also heavily underlined the “agony of all that was happening in the world”. It was very moving in a quite understated way and I’m sure the memory of the themes it addressed will stay with me for a long time. And they were big themes. Love, love of country, romantic love, love of fellow men, comradeship, loyalty, despair and death. Reading it, you felt that living through the war threw people into a life that couldn’t be lived under any other circumstances, where things were appreciated anew and ordinary people were forced to think about these big themes and live their way through them. You like to think that it was written so large, and so terribly in the end, with the camps and the atom bomb, that it could never happen again, because the “little people” referred to in the novel just will not let it. But wouldn’t we be daft to think so?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    This is not your typical World War II novel. It doesn't focus on the brutality and the atrocities that were so much a part of the war. It's a very personal story, a story of compassion, bravery, and love. It's the story of British pilot John Franklin, whose plane was shot down in occupied France, and Francoise, the daughter of a French farmer who hid Franklin and his mates from the Germans. It's the story of bravery and sacrifice by Francoise's family, and of the love that grows between Franklin This is not your typical World War II novel. It doesn't focus on the brutality and the atrocities that were so much a part of the war. It's a very personal story, a story of compassion, bravery, and love. It's the story of British pilot John Franklin, whose plane was shot down in occupied France, and Francoise, the daughter of a French farmer who hid Franklin and his mates from the Germans. It's the story of bravery and sacrifice by Francoise's family, and of the love that grows between Franklin and Francoise. Just a very enjoyable read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    By the time that this novel was published in 1944, H.E. Bates had been publishing all manner of literature for almost 20 years. Writing seems to have come naturally to him. His second novel (the first having been discarded) was published when he was a mere lad of 20. When the Second World War broke, he had another eight published novels to his credit, along with children's books, short stories, and essays. Since the Air Ministry recognized that readers of the time would prefer to read stories ab By the time that this novel was published in 1944, H.E. Bates had been publishing all manner of literature for almost 20 years. Writing seems to have come naturally to him. His second novel (the first having been discarded) was published when he was a mere lad of 20. When the Second World War broke, he had another eight published novels to his credit, along with children's books, short stories, and essays. Since the Air Ministry recognized that readers of the time would prefer to read stories about the lives of service members than facts and figures about military manoeuvres, Bates was commissioned by the Royal Air Force to fill that need. This novel is a fine example of the kind of story that interested Bates's readers during that period of history, and it is my favourite kind of war-time novel. The blood and gore is minimal -- more implied than explicit. The story offers a pleasant balance between beautiful, peaceful pastoral scenes which help the reader to relax and sink into the scene and action scenes which keep one turning pages quite ferociously. The initial cast of characters is whittled down early in the story to focus on one injured English pilot and the farm family in rural occupied France who hid him and nursed him back to health. As the story progresses, the reader (and in fact the pilot himself) grows to admire, respect, and even love this French family for their unshakeable faith and courage in spite of the horrors that they and their friends and neighbours had endured. The ending did not come as a surprise to me, and to some readers it may seem like a disappointment, perhaps slightly "too" happy. It did, however, in the final paragraphs bring to the fore another poignant truth about the lengths to which a person may go for the sake of the safety and happiness of a loved one. And it is probably the kind of ending which appealed to the reading public in 1944! I would recommend this novel very highly to readers who enjoy that era of gentle but captivating literature. It tells a spell-binding tale without grabbing you by the throat and thrusting shocking scenes in front of you. For that reason, I would happily read it again -- something that I rarely do!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    Well written story about an English pilot and his crew who due to mechanical issues are forced to land in Occupied France during WW11. Even though it is primarily of a romantic nature it was the relationship and courage shown by a French family who took the crew in and looked after their well being that was the drawcard of this story. I've read other novels about this period in history but this was a bit different in that it showed a more personal and intimate portrait of the Occupation. From the G Well written story about an English pilot and his crew who due to mechanical issues are forced to land in Occupied France during WW11. Even though it is primarily of a romantic nature it was the relationship and courage shown by a French family who took the crew in and looked after their well being that was the drawcard of this story. I've read other novels about this period in history but this was a bit different in that it showed a more personal and intimate portrait of the Occupation. From the Guardian 1000 list.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is one of those novels that was difficult for me to rate. The writing was wonderful at times. My measured view is a four, but it was an engrossing, sensitive, thoughtful portrayal of the Second World War and the lives of those caught up in desperate times.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shiloah

    I need to sit a moment until my heart stops thudding. A thrilling adventure. A masterpiece. Emotional on every level. I could not put this one down. Five stars!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Durrant

    A very moving account of war torn France. Beautifully written, a compelling tale of love and redemption set against the horrors of war!

  9. 4 out of 5

    JacquiWine

    My first 5-star read of the year. First published in 1944, Fair Stood the Wind for France was written in the midst of WW2, a time when its author – the British writer H. E. Bates – could not have known precisely how or when the conflict would end. A fascinating point considering the subject matter at hand. Described by some as one of the finest novels about the war, Fair Stood is in fact much broader than this description suggests. Amongst its many themes, the book touches on the need to trust ot My first 5-star read of the year. First published in 1944, Fair Stood the Wind for France was written in the midst of WW2, a time when its author – the British writer H. E. Bates – could not have known precisely how or when the conflict would end. A fascinating point considering the subject matter at hand. Described by some as one of the finest novels about the war, Fair Stood is in fact much broader than this description suggests. Amongst its many themes, the book touches on the need to trust others in times of uncertainty, the blossoming of young love in the most dangerous of situations, and the pain of loss as it continues to reverberate over time. To read my review, please click here: https://jacquiwine.wordpress.com/2019...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    A romance during wartime in occupied France. A British pilot crashes his plane and he and his crew set off across the countryside. The pilot has suffered an injury and becomes delirious with infection. A French family takes them in and helps; this family includes a young woman who falls in love with the pilot and he with her. It is a slow moving book but very tense. Romance set against death and grief. Wartime set against the natural beauty of the French countryside. The tension builds to a cres A romance during wartime in occupied France. A British pilot crashes his plane and he and his crew set off across the countryside. The pilot has suffered an injury and becomes delirious with infection. A French family takes them in and helps; this family includes a young woman who falls in love with the pilot and he with her. It is a slow moving book but very tense. Romance set against death and grief. Wartime set against the natural beauty of the French countryside. The tension builds to a crescendo by the end and it has a very powerful and moving ending. Altogether a very good book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC radio 4 - Classical Serial: Dramatisation by Maddy Fredericks of HE Bates' classic tale of danger, suspense and romance in Second World War France. When a British aircrew ditch over Occupied territory in the summer of 1942, injury and suspicion dog their attempts to survive and escape. From BBC radio 4 - Classical Serial: Dramatisation by Maddy Fredericks of HE Bates' classic tale of danger, suspense and romance in Second World War France. When a British aircrew ditch over Occupied territory in the summer of 1942, injury and suspicion dog their attempts to survive and escape.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    Set in occupied France during the Second World War, this book was written while the war was taking place which adds an additional dimension of suspense to an already suspenseful story. The suspense begins early on when John Franklin, the young British airman who is the protagonist of this story, realizes that his plane has malfunctioned forcing him to bring it down in a French field. “He was aware of all the sound of the world smashing forward towards him, exploding his brain, and of his arms st Set in occupied France during the Second World War, this book was written while the war was taking place which adds an additional dimension of suspense to an already suspenseful story. The suspense begins early on when John Franklin, the young British airman who is the protagonist of this story, realizes that his plane has malfunctioned forcing him to bring it down in a French field. “He was aware of all the sound of the world smashing forward towards him, exploding his brain, and of his arms striking violently upward, free of the controls. For a moment he seemed to black-out entirely and then the moon, hurling towards him, full force smashed itself against his eyes and woke him brutally to a moment of crazy terror. . . He felt his left arm strike something sharp, with sickening force, and then the moon break again in his face with bloody and glassy splinters in a moment beyond which there was no remembering.“ The reader can probably predict what happens next: Franklin and his crew make it to a farmhouse in the country where they are hidden and kept safe for a time until false papers can be obtained in order for them to be smuggled back to England. Meanwhile Franklin falls in love with the beautiful young daughter of the farmer, etc. etc. But even though the rest of the story follows predictable lines I didn’t mind at all because what I found most appealing about this novel was how it focused on what it was like for ordinary people who were living their lives as best they could despite the horrors of war. This novel doesn’t focus on graphic battlefield descriptions or on the atrocities that took place during WWII. Nor does it dwell on what happened when innocent men, women and children were tortured and killed in retaliation each time French citizens engaged in acts of sabotage and resistance. Instead the reader is given a glimpse of what life was like in Nazi-occupied France and the courage of the French people who were willing to take amazing and enormous risks because it was the only way they could fight against the Nazi regime.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    There's a particular smell associated with the Second World War...the fragrance familiar to me from museums, Churchill's War Rooms, National Trust houses, and the few things passed down to me from my Grandfather...it's leather, machine oil, metal, and hope, mixed with the scent of blood, sweat and tears. This is a moving tale of small acts of defiance, not big gestures. There are no shoot outs or nasty Nazis wearing monocles and riding boots. There are some downed RAF airmen, one badly injured, h There's a particular smell associated with the Second World War...the fragrance familiar to me from museums, Churchill's War Rooms, National Trust houses, and the few things passed down to me from my Grandfather...it's leather, machine oil, metal, and hope, mixed with the scent of blood, sweat and tears. This is a moving tale of small acts of defiance, not big gestures. There are no shoot outs or nasty Nazis wearing monocles and riding boots. There are some downed RAF airmen, one badly injured, hiding out in rural occupied France..and a difficult but plausible escape. They rely on the kindness and generosity of the wary French. And the bravery. If they were caught helping the British they would face execution. The fliers would have been captured as POWs. There's a rather gentle undercurrent of a love story too which feels very 1940s (that's a good thing), all proper and distant and slow burning. But it's all in the details; people staring into the middle distance, wind in the trees, autumnal fruit, the dusty floor of an old mill. In these straightened times, doctors are embarrassed they can't provide anaesthetic and the hosts humiliated they can only serve eel. H.E. Bates brings this lost world alive again. You can feel it. It's in the fields of mud and the rattle of a bike chain..the spilled air fuel and the pocket of a flying jacket..the taste of three day old bread and the press of a bandage. And, you can smell it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    martin

    A surprisingly beautiful, bittersweet novel that was moving and enjoyable Got this in a charity second hand book sale years ago, but never read it because World War 2, romance and planes have never been my favourite fiction themes. However, the imaginative title always caught my attention so I finally started it. I had expected a novel written in wartime to be painfully jingoistic and motivational in that odd "come through adversity to win the war over the culturally less deserving enemy" style. A surprisingly beautiful, bittersweet novel that was moving and enjoyable Got this in a charity second hand book sale years ago, but never read it because World War 2, romance and planes have never been my favourite fiction themes. However, the imaginative title always caught my attention so I finally started it. I had expected a novel written in wartime to be painfully jingoistic and motivational in that odd "come through adversity to win the war over the culturally less deserving enemy" style. H E Bates' love of Britain (and France) isn't like that. This is a book about people, not peoples. The main characters do have some traits that would've been idealised for each of their nations, but they are individuals not stereotypes. It's an intensely personal romance against the odds of the suffering, fear and chaos that comes from war. War and unknowing fear are the bad guys here - the German occupiers themselves are rarely seen and their brutality is reported rather than described first hand. This indirect experience adds to the fear that really cripples Franklin - nicely contrasted with the simple faith of Francoise. The ending is at the same time intensely sad and uplifting. A message that in the midst of all the pain and confusion, it is possible for love, faith and hope to survive and in O'Connor's case be strengthened(

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judith Johnson

    It's such a long time since I read this, I can't remember much detail! I bought it as my husband was playing the role of navigator in the TV adaptation. I was working for his agent at the time, and when I heard he'd got the part, I bought the book for him as a present. When I got home and he looked questioningly at me, I said "You've got the part!". Always nice to be able to tell an actor they've got work! It's such a long time since I read this, I can't remember much detail! I bought it as my husband was playing the role of navigator in the TV adaptation. I was working for his agent at the time, and when I heard he'd got the part, I bought the book for him as a present. When I got home and he looked questioningly at me, I said "You've got the part!". Always nice to be able to tell an actor they've got work!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    John Franklin is an English pilot who crashes his plane into occupied France and finds refuge for himself and four sergeants at a nearby farm. Luckily for him, one cool cucumber, Francoise, resides on the farm with her father and her grandmother. Francoise is a smart, young French girl who faces all kinds of adversity, including Nazis, in that awesome French insouciant way, and she isn't at all fazed when five dirty Englishmen pop out of the field while she's feeding her chickens. The men must s John Franklin is an English pilot who crashes his plane into occupied France and finds refuge for himself and four sergeants at a nearby farm. Luckily for him, one cool cucumber, Francoise, resides on the farm with her father and her grandmother. Francoise is a smart, young French girl who faces all kinds of adversity, including Nazis, in that awesome French insouciant way, and she isn't at all fazed when five dirty Englishmen pop out of the field while she's feeding her chickens. The men must somehow gain passage out of France, assisted by Francoise and her family. Meanwhile, living in occupied France is no picnic as there are Jerries everywhere, shortages of almost everything, and potential French collaborators lurking about. This makes the book sound way more adventurous than it is. A lot does happen -- there is the plane crash, Franklin must sneak into town in plain view of the Nazis, there is some gruesome medical stuff, a family tragedy, the escape, and the Nazis being Nazis -- but the book itself is not action-packed. Franklin is anxious to get back to England, but he is very introspective, so the book sort of meanders along. He obviously falls in love with Francoise because she is so awesome, and he isn't above being irrationally jealous of one of the younger sergeants who speaks flawless French; he suffers from intense bouts of homesickness for England; he frets over a serious medical emergency and contemplates a future without flying. There is always an undercurrent of suspense -- will they escape and make it back to England? What will happen between Francoise and Franklin? Will Francoise's family be shot for hiding the Englishmen? -- but it's all very thoughtfully described. Francoise is the best because every time something dangerous happens, she basically shrugs and takes a long drag of her Gauloises. Franklin is a thoughtful, considerate young man who you realize is only 22 when all this is happening. TWENTY TWO! It continually shocks and appalls me to think of what was asked of young people during the world wars. Yet I remain obsessed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian Baker

    I became a fan of H.E. following the TV adaptation of his 'Love for Lydia' in the late '70's - curled up with my girlfriend on her parents'sofa, the lyrical romance of it chimed with the way I felt at the time. A couple of years later, ejected from the sofa, I gloomily devoured more of Bates' lushly melancholic rural romances, but when it came to the wartime novels I baulked, hence this novel stayed on my shelf for over thirty years. Taking it down a couple of days ago I tried really hard to lik I became a fan of H.E. following the TV adaptation of his 'Love for Lydia' in the late '70's - curled up with my girlfriend on her parents'sofa, the lyrical romance of it chimed with the way I felt at the time. A couple of years later, ejected from the sofa, I gloomily devoured more of Bates' lushly melancholic rural romances, but when it came to the wartime novels I baulked, hence this novel stayed on my shelf for over thirty years. Taking it down a couple of days ago I tried really hard to like it but ultimately didn't get on with the Boys' Own aspect of the story. For me the whole thing reeked of propaganda - bluff British heroism set against furtive French capitulation. As it was written in 1942 this is perhaps forgivable, but seventy years on it grates.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mij Woodward

    A love story, an adventure story, the effects of WWII, a gripping thriller, a comrade’s poignant sacrifice. All rolled up into one. Not until the final two pages did I learn the fate of the two main characters. The author, H. E. Bates, was a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. (England’s air force). So he had firsthand knowledge of things. Some of his published works then bore the pseudonym “Flying Officer X”. Fair Stood the Wind for France was published a year before VE Day. The war was still raging as A love story, an adventure story, the effects of WWII, a gripping thriller, a comrade’s poignant sacrifice. All rolled up into one. Not until the final two pages did I learn the fate of the two main characters. The author, H. E. Bates, was a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. (England’s air force). So he had firsthand knowledge of things. Some of his published works then bore the pseudonym “Flying Officer X”. Fair Stood the Wind for France was published a year before VE Day. The war was still raging as Bates wrote his story. Maybe that explains why I felt like I was there with the fallen pilot, Franklin, and his struggles. It all felt very real to me. Remarkable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Nicholson

    My father flew in Wellington bombers in the second world war and often describes flying over the Alps ,so this really gripped me. I thought it was beautifully written and enjoyed it a great deal. A very different kind of war novel.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bree (AnotherLookBook)

    Very engaging story. Review to come!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Really 3.5 stars, disappointingly. The first 40% of the book was great, heading for 5 stars from me. Bates has my favorite sort of writing style--chock full of atmospheric detail, internal reflection, and propulsive plotline. Our group of British airmen have a winning camaraderie and their soldierly tactics are interesting. The French family they engage with are seasoned, tricky, and somewhat mysterious. The whole story up to page 104 is from main character Franklin’s point of view. Where it star Really 3.5 stars, disappointingly. The first 40% of the book was great, heading for 5 stars from me. Bates has my favorite sort of writing style--chock full of atmospheric detail, internal reflection, and propulsive plotline. Our group of British airmen have a winning camaraderie and their soldierly tactics are interesting. The French family they engage with are seasoned, tricky, and somewhat mysterious. The whole story up to page 104 is from main character Franklin’s point of view. Where it started to run into trouble for me was on page 105, where the POV switches to that of “the girl,” Francoise. Franklin is full of admiration and feelings for Francoise, but I had supposed that his perception of her absolute confidence, canniness, and calm must have been formed as an idealized vision by a foreign young man desperate for help. Her chapter was our chance as readers to get to know the real Francoise, without any language barrier or Franklin’s filters. Well, turns out that she has no deeper complexity to reveal, but simply a gigantic inexplicable faith that God will make everything work out okay. That was disappointing. The story itself loses some energy from that point forward also. One of the characters takes a surprising action at probably the 60% point—and because Bates didn’t lay the proper groundwork for this event, it rings false and further distances the reader from what started out as a really involving book. Later chapters bring large coincidences—Francoise’s God at work, I suppose!—but highly improbable to most of us. I chose this book off my shelf as a way of getting more familiar with French countryside geography. Unfortunately, wartime requirements prevent the reader from ever finding out exactly where the main action takes place. One named city is attained at a certain point, so that’s something. Another mystery is why Franklin and the author continue to refer to Francoise as “the girl” for most of the book despite the fact that we learned her name way back on page 50. I imagine that one’s been analyzed somewhere by feminist scholars specializing in the literature of the ‘40s.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Written in 1944, this is the account of a pilot`s crash landing and subsequent escape from occupied France. He is badly injured and he and his four man crew set off walking west. They arrive at a farm where the people are friendly and help. There is a girl and the inevitable happens, they fall in love. The complications because of his arm are enormous and the French deciding to riot in the nearby town don`t help!! It is historically interesting because the escape route eventually takes them thro Written in 1944, this is the account of a pilot`s crash landing and subsequent escape from occupied France. He is badly injured and he and his four man crew set off walking west. They arrive at a farm where the people are friendly and help. There is a girl and the inevitable happens, they fall in love. The complications because of his arm are enormous and the French deciding to riot in the nearby town don`t help!! It is historically interesting because the escape route eventually takes them through Vichy France, about which I know very little. I found the style rather old fashioned (not surprising) and at first not easy to read, but the tension is well maintained, enjoyed it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

    Published in 1944, the book was written before the outcome of WW 2 was known. For some reason, I particularly enjoy these types of books - the unknown. This is an historical fiction of four English airmen, the pilot and three Sergeants, flying their plane from enemy territory to return to England over France. Unfortunately, the plane does not make it and they crash in France, abandon their plane and have no real idea where they are. Great story. Occupied vs. Unoccupied France. French vs. the Engl Published in 1944, the book was written before the outcome of WW 2 was known. For some reason, I particularly enjoy these types of books - the unknown. This is an historical fiction of four English airmen, the pilot and three Sergeants, flying their plane from enemy territory to return to England over France. Unfortunately, the plane does not make it and they crash in France, abandon their plane and have no real idea where they are. Great story. Occupied vs. Unoccupied France. French vs. the English. A German killed means 100 Frenchmen will pay the ultimate price. And also, the pilot was injured in the crash. It was a fast - read for me because I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the scenery.

  24. 5 out of 5

    S Murdoch

    I don't feel qualified to write a review of this book. HE Bates is suvh a master, it feels wrong even to try. I won't. I'll just say it's wonderful. I don't feel qualified to write a review of this book. HE Bates is suvh a master, it feels wrong even to try. I won't. I'll just say it's wonderful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    LadyCalico

    This is the second WWII novel by Bates that I've read and both have been great reads and somewhat different from the usual characters and plots. He seems to be an author with an abundance of creativity, insight, and sympathy. This was a lovely adventure/romance about loyalty, faith, courage, and humanity. This is the second WWII novel by Bates that I've read and both have been great reads and somewhat different from the usual characters and plots. He seems to be an author with an abundance of creativity, insight, and sympathy. This was a lovely adventure/romance about loyalty, faith, courage, and humanity.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hattie

    A beautifully written wartime romance. This book both had my adrenaline rushing and my heart fluttering, as it’s the perfect mixture of wonderful romance and extreme suspense!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian Yatman

    I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed (and was moved by) this. I can't believe a young Dirk Bogarde didn't star in a screen adaptation. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed (and was moved by) this. I can't believe a young Dirk Bogarde didn't star in a screen adaptation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    After my delight with the first of Bates' Pop Larkin novels that I finished, I immediately wanted more and reached for the only other unread title of his on my shelf - not from that series at all but an earlier more serious and conventional WWII story (although one of his best known, so a significant piece of the puzzle). Also I rather enjoy these 70s Penguin editions with stills from a BBC television adaptation on the cover - they all seem to portray the same woman. A brave UK airman is shot dow After my delight with the first of Bates' Pop Larkin novels that I finished, I immediately wanted more and reached for the only other unread title of his on my shelf - not from that series at all but an earlier more serious and conventional WWII story (although one of his best known, so a significant piece of the puzzle). Also I rather enjoy these 70s Penguin editions with stills from a BBC television adaptation on the cover - they all seem to portray the same woman. A brave UK airman is shot down in occupied France, is sheltered by anti-German rural people, falls in love with the daughter, loses an arm, they flee to Spain, many characters die but they may come out OK (it's left a bit ambiguous). Pretty standard war novel stuff in short, and probably Hemingway influenced - people and places are frequently "fine" and "good". Not to be cynical, but one of the notable things about this kind of book is the huge number that were inspired by the two world wars and the paucity of anything resembling this sensibility since - either those wars were genuinely more noble or the glamorization of war is simply no longer possible (perhaps for the best).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Nolan

    This book is an absolute gem! It was published in 1944 and written in, I believe, 1942. I adore novels set in WWII, and the fact that this was written while the war still was raging makes it unique! It is the story of a downed English pilot and his crew. They are stranded in the French countryside and not sure who might be friend or foe until they happen upon a kind French family. The characters and the story are quite endearing. I just reread this book and it was like visiting with an old friend This book is an absolute gem! It was published in 1944 and written in, I believe, 1942. I adore novels set in WWII, and the fact that this was written while the war still was raging makes it unique! It is the story of a downed English pilot and his crew. They are stranded in the French countryside and not sure who might be friend or foe until they happen upon a kind French family. The characters and the story are quite endearing. I just reread this book and it was like visiting with an old friend, even more charming and endearing than I remembered! I absolutely adore this book and these characters. The first reading made me want to know more about wartime France and the everyday people of the resistance. I've now done some research on that topic which made the second reading an even greater joy. The author, HE Bates, did an excellent job of capturing that time and the people of France who found the Nazi occupation and the Vichy-regime despicable, moving them to do everything they could to help the Allies and win back their homeland.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Holmes

    This is a darker side of H. E. Bates, quite somber throughout and very telling about an English pilot's crash in France and the subsequent loss of his arm. Franklin is dependent on a farming family for his survival and for his escape from the Nazis that appear unpredictably in the small French village. The story of his amputation and the girl who helps him is tense, his hiding in a mill loft and the French scene of a vineyard and river. Although prolonged, this is all developing into the theme o This is a darker side of H. E. Bates, quite somber throughout and very telling about an English pilot's crash in France and the subsequent loss of his arm. Franklin is dependent on a farming family for his survival and for his escape from the Nazis that appear unpredictably in the small French village. The story of his amputation and the girl who helps him is tense, his hiding in a mill loft and the French scene of a vineyard and river. Although prolonged, this is all developing into the theme of heroism that the civilians must have in order to help their own and their allies. The second part of the book is about his escape and his growing commitment to the girl, as he usually refers to her. Bates' strong style and characters kept me in the story while he showed Franklin's slips as a young pilot who would never fly again. I have enjoyed other books of his. This one doesn't have his usual subtle humor and touch but its message is vital and reflective of his own RAF service during World War II.

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