I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
England, 1943. Lost in fog, Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Vee Katchatourian is forced to make an emergency landing where she meets enigmatic RAF airman Stefan Bergel, and then can’t get him out of her mind.
In occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman hosts German officers in her father’s guest house, while secretly gathering intelligence for the Polish resistance. Mourning her lover, Stefan, who was captured by the Soviets at the start of the war, Ewa is shocked to see him on the street one day.
Haunted by a terrible choice he made in captivity, Stefan asks Vee
and Ewa to help him expose one of the darkest secrets of the war. But it is not clear where everyone’s loyalties lie until they are tested.
When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby has been published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day and is based upon the Katyn massacre of 1940. Set during World War 2 in both England and occupied Poland, this book is about three people, Vee, Ewa and Stefan. Vee is a female pilot transporting aeroplanes in England whilst Ewa runs a guesthouse with her father in Poland. Stefan is the man who they both fall for. Ewa and he are engaged but the last time she heard from him he was in a Russian prison and she fears that he may be dead. Vee meets him at an RAF base where he is an airman and is entranced by him almost immediately.
I adore books set during this time period and this is my first read set in occupied Poland. I learnt so much about life for those living under occupation; street names changed, synagogues turned into swimming pools, houses requisitioned for Germans. Carolyn Kirby conveys the overarching sense of menace and fear of this time with suspicion lurking around every corner.
I was struck by the similarities between the two women at the heart of this novel. Ewa is a brave and fearless woman who serves German SS Officers their breakfast before hiding away in her bedroom typing information on a silent typewriter for the resistance. Vee is a woman in man’s world, a world where she has to work that little bit harder to be noticed and to succeed. She is also brave and puts herself into precarious and dangerous situations. They are both wonderful characters, and ones which wormed their way deep into my heart.
This is a powerful read about a difficult part of history. There are some images of the destruction and devastation wrought by war which made me pause and take a breath before reading again. Carolyn Kirby has woven a beautiful tale of two women and the man they both love. It is a compelling and heartbreaking read which doesn’t pull any punches in its depictions of loss.
If you’re a fan of well-written historical fiction then this could be the book for you. It reminded me of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Kate Furnivall’s books and it has its roots firmly placed in fact with its exploration of the Katyn Massacre. Highly recommended.
About The Author
CAROLYN KIRBY is the author of The Conviction of Cora Burns which was longlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award.Before being a full-time writer, Carolyn worked in social housing and as a teacher.
She has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in Oxfordshire.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to No Exit Press for providing me with a copy of the book via Netgalley and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the Blog Tour.