It’s 1914, and the wealthy and influential Barrington family of Britain, with its 5 sons and two daughters, must set aside its frivolous ways because war has been declared. Germany is about to take over poor little Belgium in an effort to get at France and take over France as well. Britain is mobilizing to help France in an ironic turn of events, as Britain was on the side of Germany when Napoleon was chasing his dream of being The Boss Of Everybody.
The first section, an introduction to the various members of Barrington family, is told through the eyes of Stanley Walker, a former classmate of the youngest Barrington, Jimmy. Stanley comes from a working class family, and managed to scrape by to attend university, has a knack with motors, and stays connected with Jimmy as he works on Jimmy’s motorcars. It is interesting, because we get to see the Barringtons from the view of an outsider. (Think Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby.)
When the war effort begins, Jimmy coerces Stanley to join the nascent air corps as pilots the fact that neither had ever even been in an airplane, let alone flown one, notwithstanding. With Jimmy’s connections, he is able to get them a certificate, which gets them into classes.
The remainder of the book is the story of how the piloting effort goes, (and for Jimmy, not so well), and the different directions and interconnections in the European war zone the lives of the two main characters take, Stanley as an ace pilot, and Jimmy in ‘Intelligence’.
I believe this is the first of a planned series about the Barringtons, although this one is primarily about the war in 1914, and is completely a stand-alone book. Ya’ll know how I feel about series that seem to exist simply to force the reader to buy more books. Each book in a series should be complete in and of itself, but yet leave the reading wishing for more.
I am pretty picky about the historical fiction that I read, as so much of it is more fiction than historical, and so much of historical fiction simply uses the given historical era as decor for a story that could occur in any period of history. I particularly detest historical romance. There. I said it and I’m glad.
Anyhoo, this book is obviously extremely well researched, and the historical period is integral to the story, not just window dressing for it.
I am looking forward to the continuing story in future volumes.