Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Fallen Skies - Philippa Gregory

Fallen Skies - Philippa Gregory Review

Lilly Valances childhood was completely over shadowed by the events of World War 1. Going into her adult hood, she is determined to not be affected by Post war Britain. Britain has changed; it’s people, its ways, everything about the country is different and Lilly is ready to embrace that as she takes centre stage in the pursuit of stardom and fame. 

Captain Stephen Winters, haunted by the war and desperately clinging onto a Britain that no longer exists is desperate for an escape from the nightmares that plague him every time he closes his eyes. Lilly captivates him, her purity, her innocence and how totally untouched by the War she is, he knows she can save him.

Lilly is swept off her feet by the well-to-do, well mannered, handsomely decorated Captain but it isn’t love, no, her heart has been captured by music director Charlie, who lives with his own war-demons. He loves her but he can’t love her so he forces himself to stand in the shadows as Captain Winters pursues her feverishly. 

After a personal tragedy, Lilly finds herself suddenly married and forced into Stephens upperclass family with their upperclass ways. Though drawn to Stephens wealth and status, the man behind closed doors is not the man who pursued her through the dance halls of London, who wined her and dined her at The Ritz and promised her the world. Stephen wants one thing from Lilly, he wants to forget, and he will have her erase those painful war memories at whatever cost.

But it’s not only the war that plagues Stephen. His family home is silent, haunted by ghosts of the past, an invalid father upstairs and a grieving mother in the parlour. The house is very much set in its ways of being proper and sophisticated. In a bid to break free of the restraints of upperclass life, Lilly breathes life into the home, bringing with her, her lower class attitude and ways, he life loving laughter and pitch perfect singing voice. But the sun doesn’t shine for long over the Winters home and before long, the family is swept up in another tragedy as Stephens temper and nightmares grow out of control, the whole family are brought tumbling down as he wages war on them and their happiness.

I’m a huge Gregory fan and always excited when I come across one of her books I’ve not read. Fallen Skies was on offer a while back on the Kindle store so I downloaded a copy and delved deep into the roaring twenties. The book had me hooked from the start, Lilly is a young but determined character who starts out so naive, as she should be for her age and sheltered upbringing. Like her mother, we want what’s best for her, we’ve had a glimpse into what Stephen is really like and we desperately want her to run, we know what she’s getting into but she is blinded by his wealth and her own grief to see so clearly. 

The plot moves a long nicely, with flashbacks to Stephens time in Belgium and the terrible things he saw during the war. Though he’s the antagonist, we can’t help but feel sorry for him. A childhood overshadowed by a ‘perfect’ older brother, Stephen has always been outcasted by his family. Forced to go and fight in a war he had no interest in, he wanted simple things from life but his families status, ideas and later grief meant all his own personal dreams were simply pushed aside. You want to hate him for the things he does throughout the course of the novel but at times it’s hard, he is simply a product of his upbringing an experiences and cannot help himself at times.

Lilly grows through the book from a naive little poppet to a strong, independent woman desperate to break free of social constraints. She’s headstrong, knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to break rules and defy her husband to get there. She was just a little too perfect for me, but I can forgive that.

I’ve read a lot of comments on the pacing of the novel and have to say, while it moves along swiftly, it does drop off somewhere in the middle and wades around for some time. It picks up again towards the end but spends a little too much time on repetitive scenes and conversations when you just want the action to keep moving forward. The ending was expected and pretty poignant, I knew early on how it would likely end but that didn’t spoil it for me. I would have really liked an epilogue though. 

What I love most about Gregorys work are the details She brings to life the 1920s with period references and touches, you can always tell the time period she is writing about has been thoroughly researched and it’s gives great insight into that period of time. 

Have you read any novels by Phillipa Gregory?

Until next time,


  1. I love Philippa Gregory's books! I haven't read this one either but I'm definitely going to get it on my Kindle. I've read a lot of hers on the Tudor times (I love that you can read and learn at the same time haha as she's done such thorough research... and probably embellished a bit too!)

    1. SO much research goes into her books! Her Tudor court novels were the first by her I picked up but not I'm luring over anything I can find! The Wideacre trilogy is one of my favourites by her too! Well worth checking out!

      Sarah :)