Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen is a fact filled historical
mystery. The story takes place during 1941 in the English
countryside. Inspired by the events of World War II this is
a sweeping and riveting stand-alone novel involving class,
family, love, and betrayal.
She wanted to write about this era since "I think it
was the last time we had a feeling of good versus evil. Everybody
felt if we do not stop the evil it would be the end of the
world. Because of that, they were willing to make sacrifices
with a great sense of duty where everyone rooted for each
other. I was born in the middle of World War II. Even after
the war, in England, everything was rationed until 1953, and
every time you went for a walk you passed a bomb site. It
was a grim atmosphere."
plot is built around three lifelong friends: Ben Cresswell,
the Vicar's son, who now serves as a homeland spy; Lady Pamela
Sutton, the middle daughter of an aristocratic family who
decodes German correspondence at Bletchley; and Jeremy Prescott,
an injured RAF fighter pilot. Their carefree youth is contrasted
with the dangers of the Nazis. They are trying to find out
about a German that died parachuting into the countryside.
Many believe his mission was to deliver a mysterious message
to a German spy on how to assassinate either the Royal Family
or Winston Churchill. The suspect pool grows as the people
of interest include an English POW who escaped, those escaping
the German atrocities, Canadians, a governess, and someone
who could be a double spy.
main and supporting characters created are very intriguing
and engaging. Readers will wish Bowen would continue to re-visit
them by turning the stand-alone into a series. The two male
characters are Ben who is smart and loyal, while Jeremy is
the ultimate bad boy. Besides Pamela, her sister Margot allows
people to get a view of the German brutalities. The youngest,
Phoebe, of the five Sutton daughters, befriends Alfie, taken
in by the groundskeeper for safety reasons. All desire to
discover the identity of the German spy. Bowen also writes
of Farleigh Field as if it is a character. In many ways, it
becomes the central element of the plot considering it serves
as the headquarters of a British armed forces unit.
contrasts the two male leads, "Jeremy was the ultimate
bad boy. He was charismatic, dashing, and daring. If I was
a young girl I would have been attracted to him. As Pamela
says in the book, ‘you knew you would not be quite safe
with Jeremy, but you knew you were alive.' She took for granted
he would marry her, but all he wanted was sex. Ben, on the
other hand, was someone you would turn to if you were in trouble,
like an older brother. He was kind, loyal, dependable, and
of its location, Farleigh Field is the setting where espionage
and mysterious events occur, drawing in the countryside aristocracy.
Many lost privilege, property, and power as their estates
were taken over by the war effort. Bowen brilliantly and interestingly
describes the culture of the time where the rich and powerful
either made sacrifices with the rest of the English population
or were the ones who chose to join an organization that believed
in making a peace with Hitler.
story of war, love, and mystery is extremely suspenseful.
It is both realistic and believable. Through the character's
eyes, readers will be drawn into the era and begin to understand
the sacrifices and hardships placed on English society.