Radcliffe, Robert Under An English Heaven

ISBN 13: 9780351320804

Under An English Heaven

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9780351320804: Under An English Heaven
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1943. The sleepy Suffolk village of Bedenham is jerked into the twentieth century and the harsh realities of war by the arrival on its doorstep of an American bomber base and its three thousand inhabitants. For Billy Street, fourteen, a London evacuee uneasily billeted with the village blacksmith, the American invasion is heaven sent - unlimited opportunities and acceptance at last within a community he loves. Yet a concealed past threatens his new happiness. Billy's schoolteacher, Heather Garrett, awaits word of a husband missing for eighteen months. A stranger to Bedenham, Heather's sense of isolation - and village suspicions - are heightened when troubled American pilot John Hooper, reaches for her friendship. And daily the skies fill with the bombers and their ten-man crews who, during that bleak autumn of 1943, suffered losses on a catastrophic scale. For Hooper, tormented by earlier loss, leading Misbehavin' Martha and her disorderly crew safely through their 25 designated bombing missions becomes a personal crusade.

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Review:

The Second World War has England struggling for its survival, but in Suffolk, in the summer 1943, the setting of Robert Radcliffe's Under an English Heaven, beautiful weather and bumper harvests almost distract the locals from the build-up to one of the most crucial battles of the war. At dawn, the hosts of bomber bases constructed among East Anglia's quiet hamlets dispatch American airmen for daring daylight assaults against Germany's industrial war engine. At the village of Bedenham, a dusk watch records those few lucky enough to return--and the many who do not. The villagers live in fear and apprehension, but for one inhabitant, things are splendid. 14-year-old Billy Street is a canny London evacuee, and he is happy to take advantage of the opportunities sent to him, thriving in the acceptance he is now receiving. Billy's teacher Heather Garrett is waiting in anguish for news of the husband who has been missing for nearly two years, while US pilot Lt John Hopper is struggling with the trauma that is destroying him: he is trying to come to terms with the death of his entire crew and his own shameful survival. His friendship with Heather brings hostility from the village, and salvation for both seems a distant hope.

Under an English Heaven is a book of immense psychological insight and understated emotion. Written in expressive, trenchant prose, Radcliffe's affecting novel draws us deeper and deeper into the lives of its damaged characters, until we come to care for their predicament as if it were our own. While the picture of a sleepy English village torn apart by the horrors of war is rendered with texture and precision, it's the relationship between the pilot John and the teacher Heather that galvanises our interest, along with the streetwise schoolboy Billy. There are echoes of the novels of William Trevor here (and that's to be welcomed), but Radcliffe's achieve is a personal (and singular) one.--Barry Forshaw

Review:

This marvellous feel-good debut will bring a glow to the most jaded cheeks (David Robson, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

What Birdsong told us of fighting underground in the First World War, UNDER AN ENGLISH HEAVEN tells us of fighting in the air during the Second World War. It is a novel of action, engaging, authentic, irresistibly readable, and enriched with romance. Won (Michael Holroyd)

This is an engaging drama in which Radcliffe succeeds in evoking wartime during the horrors of the Blitz and in portraying the everyday struggle to come to terms with extraordinary events. This is a nostalgic and emotive portrayal of human courage and endurance. (WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Radcliffe strips the well-worn genre bare and builds it into something quite unexpected- a historical journey with an all-too human edge. (SCOTSMAN)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780316859905: Under An English Heaven

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0316859907 ISBN 13:  9780316859905
Publisher: Little, Brown, 2002
Hardcover

9780349115030: Under An English Heaven

Abacus, 2003
Softcover

9780750519175: Under an English Heaven

Magna ..., 2002
Hardcover

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Robert Radcliffe
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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. 1943. The sleepy Suffolk village of Bedenham is jerked into the twentieth century and the harsh realities of war by the arrival on its doorstep of an American bomber base and its three thousand inhabitants. For Billy Street, fourteen, a London evacuee uneasily billeted with the village blacksmith, the American invasion is heaven sent - unlimited opportunities and acceptance at last within a community he loves. Yet a concealed past threatens his new happiness. Billy's schoolteacher, Heather Garrett, awaits word of a husband missing for eighteen months. A stranger to Bedenham, Heather's sense of isolation - and village suspicions - are heightened when troubled American pilot John Hooper, reaches for her friendship. And daily the skies fill with the bombers and their ten-man crews who, during that bleak autumn of 1943, suffered losses on a catastrophic scale. For Hooper, tormented by earlier loss, leading Misbehavin' Martha and her disorderly crew safely through their 25 designated bombing missions becomes a personal crusade. Seller Inventory # HUK9780351320804

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. 1943. The sleepy Suffolk village of Bedenham is jerked into the twentieth century and the harsh realities of war by the arrival on its doorstep of an American bomber base and its three thousand inhabitants. For Billy Street, fourteen, a London evacuee uneasily billeted with the village blacksmith, the American invasion is heaven sent - unlimited opportunities and acceptance at last within a community he loves. Yet a concealed past threatens his new happiness. Billy's schoolteacher, Heather Garrett, awaits word of a husband missing for eighteen months. A stranger to Bedenham, Heather's sense of isolation - and village suspicions - are heightened when troubled American pilot John Hooper, reaches for her friendship. And daily the skies fill with the bombers and their ten-man crews who, during that bleak autumn of 1943, suffered losses on a catastrophic scale. For Hooper, tormented by earlier loss, leading Misbehavin' Martha and her disorderly crew safely through their 25 designated bombing missions becomes a personal crusade. Seller Inventory # HUK9780351320804

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