Book review of the day: Piece of Cake

This is the end of the series of book reviews. Thank you to all who have contributed so far. I personally and sincerely hope that this exercise has brought some joy and help alike to those who have used it. This is NOT the end of it though. Just the end of the first series. At some point we will start again.

You can still send your book review to [email protected] and we will put it up when series two starts. Probably in the cold of winter.

Please set your submission out with the name of the book, then the author and then describe in your own words what the book is about. Also if you happen to be a commenter please include your username.

Each post is set out as comprehensively as possible with the name of who submitted it, the name of the book and author and a short review in the form of a comment from whoever submitted it.

Todays review came from Jonathan.


Piece of Cake

B Derek Robinson

Jonathan said: “Derek Robinson is a great writer of war fiction, with a number of his books focused on aviation in WW1 and WW2. Two of his WW1 books, Goshawk Squadron and War Story are stand out reads and I hope against hope that one day Sir Peter Jackson, with his interest & support of things related to the First World War, will buy the film rights and create a brilliant film around them.

However this review is focusing on “Piece of Cake” , a novel featuring the men of Hornet Squadron as they enter into World War 2 flying their Mk1 fabric wing Hurricanes, first taking us through the lazy and carefree days of the RAF before the war, “the best flying club in the world”, into the Battle of France and the harsh lessons learned and ending at the hardest day of the battle, the 7th September when the Luftwaffe threw its weight against London.

By taking on the mythological figure of the RAF Battle of Britain fighter pilot, Derek Robinson has taken a great gamble; by imbuing these men with very human characteristics, humour, anger, jealousy,  and seeing them as frail and fragile human beings, he adds a very real dimension to a figure largely mythologised and revered in English history. To my mind, and speaking as one who after reading this still felt the book paid due homage to them, that approach has paid off, and indeed personally speaking actually enhanced my appreciation for their endeavours. His research shows throughout the text, and the descriptions of the aircraft, tactics, of the air combat itself and the effect on the men flying the mission ring true with many interviews of the pilots themselves that I’ve read. He portrays a vivid reality of air combat that’s engrossing, triumphant and tragic. There were a few passages that had me with a lump in my throat!

While the authors views on the true danger of invasion get a brief airing via one of the characters ( the author did not believe such an invasion would have been possible) , I felt this added a dimension to the historical aspect that I had not considered before and so, while not changing my mind, at least gave me pause to consider that perspective. The end of the book contains an author’s note where he discusses his research and why he chose to write some things the way he did.

This book is a great read , even for those not familiar with the subject matter,  as I think it vividly portrays the time, men and machines that fought one of the most crucial battles in modern history and will bring their story home to anyone.”

 

Amazon said: “From the Phoney War of 1939 to the Battle of Britain in 1940, the pilots of Hornet Squadron learn their lessons the hard way. Hi-jinks are all very well on the ground, but once in a Hurricane’s cockpit, the best killers keep their wits close.
Newly promoted Commanding Officer Fanny Barton has a job on to whip the Hornets into shape before they face the Luftwaffe’s seasoned pilots. And sometimes Fighter Command, with its obsolete tactics and stiff doctrines, is the real menace.
As with all Robinson’s novels, the raw dialogue, rich black humour and brilliantly rendered, adrenalin-packed dogfights bring the Battle of Britain, and the brave few who fought it, to life”

 

If you have read this book or it reminds you of a story or something then please go ahead and share in the comments section below.



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