Reviewed by Dan
TITLE: Under Leaden Skies
AUTHOR: Sandra Lindsey
PUBLISHER: Manifold Press
LENGTH: 166 Pages
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2016
Love. Loss. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Honour. Duty. Family. In 1939, the arrival of war prompted ‘Teddy’ Maximilian Garston to confess his love to his childhood friend, Huw Roberts. Separated by duty – Teddy piloting Sunderland flying boats for RAF Coastal Command, and Huw deep underground in a South Wales coal mine – their relationship is frustrated by secrecy, distance, and the stress of war that tears into every aspect of their lives.
After endless months of dull patrols, a chance encounter over the Bay of Biscay will forever change the course of Teddy’s life. On returning to Britain, how will he face the consequences of choices made when far from home? Can he find a way to provide for everyone he loves, and build a family from the ashes of wartime grief?
This was one of those books I finished reading and then sat there gazing at my Kindle…reflecting on the story I had just read…and the book hangover it left me with. Did I like it? Yes, very much. Did I like it all? No, to be honest…there were parts I didn’t like, but only because they tugged at my heartstrings. There was also a fairly major event in the story that I had to flip back and make sure I had read correctly, because there was no emotional outpouring at that time (so stereotypical British) and it came as a little bit of a shock to this Yank. Only a little later in the story did the emotions show up via a letter which Max read in the story. No spoilers, but, yes…I was sad.
We meet Max when he is headed off to war. He can’t leave without confessing his undying love for his best friend, Huw Roberts. He waits until the very last minute, in fear that Huw will not want anything to do with him after he tells him. When the opposite is the truth, and Huw shares his feelings, what are the two men to do? Torn apart by the events of World War II, it will be years before they can be together again…if ever.
I think my favorite character in the story was “Cheeks”, and I fell in love with his character. A non-apologetic bisexual, who sleeps with both Max and a woman named Sylvia, his character also has a soft side which made it all just a little more bittersweet. Then it happened. I was shocked, and maybe I even got a little teary eyed.
My only minor complaint with the book was the ending. Did the story wrap up? Yes. Did we have a happy for now? Yes. But I would have liked a little more…like what happened next? Does Jem show up? Do Sylvia’s parents arrive for their visit?
Is the book complete as it is? Yes. But I enjoyed the story and would like more, darn it! I recommend the story to anyone who enjoys a tale set in World War II, when remember…being a homosexual was punishable by arrest and imprisonment in the UK. The tale of these men and their friends, families and crew mates reads as a true historical story, probably because it could easily be true. Told in First Person from Max’s POV, it read in some parts like a personal memoir, and I really liked it because of it. It left me a little sad though. Now I’m typing this review and an old song by The Smith’s is playing on Pandora which is making me even sadder. Quick give me something light and fluffy to read next!
Seriously though. I liked it. Give it a shot.