The Book That Made Me: Philip Reeve 16/10/19
That Burning Summer
Publisher: Hot Key
In the long hot summer of 1940, planes are doing battle over the channel, and the south coast of England is braced for a German invasion. With their home taken over by soldiers, 16-year-old Peggy, her mother and her younger brother Ernest have relocated to her Uncle’s farm in Romney Marsh. Whilst Peggy puts on a brave face in the face of vitriol from the local community because her father has been arrested for being a pacifist, Ernest grows increasingly more and more paranoid as he absorbs the government’s advice for emergencies, and readies himself for danger.
When Peggy discovers a parachutist in the garden – Henryk, a young Polish pilot working for the allies, whose plane has been shut down and is suffering terribly as a result of all he has experienced since the outbreak of war. Peggy hides him in a remote church and tries to take care of him, and as feelings begin to develop between them, she finds herself questioning all her ideas and beliefs about what the war means.
Lydia Syson follows the successful A World Between Us with another engrossing historical novel. That Burning Summer is a very different sort of World War II story, set on the Home Front and providing an intriguing insight into the rarely-mentioned role of Britain’s Polish allies in the war effort. Beautifully evoking the atmosphere of a small rural community under threat, it simmers with tension and intensity: readers will be rooting for Peggy and Henryk and captivated by their blossoming romance.