Friday, February 24, 2017

#Review - In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

In Farleigh Field 
A Novel of World War II 
by Rhys Bowen 
In Farleigh Field is the first book I have read by Rhys Bowen. It was an enjoyable read with lots of intrigue and interesting twists. 

WWII took place during the time when my grand parents were starting their family with my Mom born during the war. It's interesting to read what life was like then and see what they may have been going through. Even though this takes place in England and not the US. 

I found the characters to be charming and on the whole most of them likable. Pamela is a sweet and very smart young lady. She's helping her country with a project that she can't tell anyone what she is doing. She loves her family and helps out when needed.

Ben Cresswell is the ultimate good guy. He's a smart, kind, and a hard worker. He's helping his country in a mission that he can't tell anyone about either. 

Ben and Pamela end up working on their missions together. They truly do work well together and make a great team. Ben would like there relationship to be a little bit more than friends. Pamela has a gentleman that was courting her before he left to serve his country. When he turns after being captured and held by the enemy things may pick up where they left off. 

The intrigue and mystery is this story is incredible. I could not wait to see what twist was about the next turn. Everyone is a suspect and no one is really sure who they can trust and who they can not. There are so many secrets and people behaving oddly it's really hard for Ben and Pamela to know who might be working against them. 

Over all this was an interesting historical read. I think there is probably a whole lot of facts weaved in there with the fiction to make it also a unique history lesson.

If you enjoy historical fiction then I think you'll enjoy this story. 

I was given the opportunity to read this fascinating story and it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you. 

About the Book: 

Farleigh Place is removed from the war by more than just miles. While bombs rain down on London just an hour away, life goes on as usual at this Downton Abbey-like estate in the countryside.  Hampered only by a skeletal wartime staff, a dwindling supply of meat coupons, and an army regiment that's taken up residence at the big house, Farleigh is almost too idyllic to be real—until one night, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the grounds, and the war literally hits home for Lord Westerham and his five daughters.  

Inspired by the real events and people of World War II, IN FARLEIGH FIELD (Lake Union Publishing; On-sale March 1, 2017) is a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal by Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels and three award-winning historical mystery series.  

In Bowen's latest page-turner, her fictional storyline is rooted in historical truth. The pro-German societies referenced in this novel were known to have existed in England in the early days of the war. Some of the most dangerous were composed primarily of aristocrats—and there are plenty of aristocrats in Farleigh. So when the dead parachutist, carrying only a photograph, is presumed to be a  German spy sent to deliver a message to someone in the vicinity of Farleigh Field, the neighborhood’s most powerful and wealthy aren’t ruled out as targets of suspicion. Ben Cresswell, an M15 operative and son of the local vicar, is dispatched to find the traitor in their midst. And though this quiet bucolic region may seem like an unlikely place to harbor a sympathizer, the area’s black marketeers, arrogant pragmatists, and foreign refugees also raise concerns. With the help of his lifelong friend and secret love, Lady Pamela—herself a civil servant who cracks German codes at Bletchley Park—Ben investigates for spies and sympathizers. When he learns of The Ring, a secret society that wants to depose the king and make peace with Germany, he can hardly believe it's real. Can Ben and Pamela infiltrate The Ring? And can Ben find out what the photograph means in time to stop the crisis that could bring Britain to its knees?  

Union Publishing 
 March 1, 2017  
Hardcover: $24.95  ISBN: 1477818294 
eBook: $4.99  ASIN: B01HBKAYMA 

About the Author:

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty mystery novels. Her work includes the Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1900s New York City, and the Royal Spyness novels, featuring a minor royal in 1930s England, as well as the Constable Evenas mysteries about a police constable in contemporary Wales. Rhys’s works have won fourteen awards to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards. Her books have been translated into many languages, and she has fans from around the world, including the 12,000 who visit her Facebook page daily. She is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona. Connect with her at


 Q&A with Rhys Bowen:

Q: Although it’s a work of fiction, IN FARLEIGH FIELD is very closely rooted in the truth. ProGerman societies, like those referenced in the book, did, in fact, exist in England at the start of WWII. Some of the most dangerous were composed mainly of aristocrats who believed that making peace with Germany would spare the destruction of British national treasures. Because Germany respected aristocracy, having given up their own, some British assumed they would be treated well under Hitler's domination. Do you think these people were motivated by arrogance or a twisted sense of patriotism? Would they have actually aided an invasion? 

A: I think there was a feeling among some aristocrats that Germany was not so bad, that the Brits had a lot in common with the Germans, that Hitler actually liked Britain and felt them to be fellow Aryans. Certainly the Duke of Windsor (former Prince of Wales) displayed this sentiment, which was why he was shipped off to the Bahamas. For some it was a genuine sense of wanting to spare the population more merciless bombing and save national treasures. And I think there was a sense of fatalism that Britain couldn’t ever resist the might of Germany and would fall in the end. Remember that an invasion was imminent when Hitler suddenly turned his sights on Russia and Britain was spared. As to whether they would have aided in an invasion? I can’t tell you. Luckily it was never put to the test. 

Q: World War II created opportunities for women that would not have existed had so many men not been taken out of the workforce and put onto the battlefield. In the book, debutantes like Lady Pamela Sutton were sought after for government work, since they were “brought up to do the right thing. Hence will not let the side down and give away secrets.” In fact, the Duchess of Cambridge’s own grandmother was a “Bletchley Girl!” Did the war herald a new era for working women, or was it a temporary equality based on necessity? And what impact did the women have on the war effort? 

A: Certainly the war gave women opportunities to prove that they could do almost anything. Look at Rosie the Riveter in America, and our Queen Elizabeth learning how to fix car and truck engines. My own aunt rose quite high in the British admiralty. She was in charge of equipment deliveries and would yell into the phone “I need those submarines by Monday. I don’t care what you have to do. Make it happen.”  Then after the war all the men returned and she was offered a job as a secretary again. She quit and went into teaching. This was a common theme, I’m afraid. “Thank you for your service. Now go back to wearing an apron and baking cookies.” Look at all the 1950s TV shows glorifying the stable suburban family and “father knows best” mentality. 

Q: Lady Diana is 19 and furious about the war. She was supposed to come out last year, and because she hasn't had her debutante season and been presented at court, she's stuck in Kent, dying of boredom. Despite doing their bit, it seems as though many aristocrats felt more inconvenienced by than invested in the early years of the war. Was the divide drawn along class lines, or did the sanctity of the countryside insulate them from reality until the war really did start to feel closer to home?  

A: Of course they didn’t suffer the terrible bombing of the cities, nor the privations of food and supplies that city dwellers felt. People who owned land could at least feed themselves when others had to line up on the rumor that a certain shop had a shipment of cod or cauliflowers. The ration was a quarter pound of meat per person per week. But most aristocrats had their houses taken over by the government. Troops were billeted there, as in my story, or they became secret government departments, schools evacuated from the middle of cities or even hospitals for rehabilitation for men sent home from front lines. Sometimes homes were left completely trashed after the war—heads shot off statues, paintings slashed.  And the upper classes certainly had their share of sacrifice of their own sons. My husband’s cousin’s family lost three sons on the same day, all three heirs to the property gone. 

Q: While home on leave from her job translating decoded messages, Lady Pamela learns that the gamekeeper's son is missing and presumed dead. Until then, her work had seemed like an academic puzzle, unrelated to real events, but this event makes her wonder about the importance of even the most menial of tasks. What toll did this kind of secretive, code-breaking work take on civil servants, like Pamela, who were key to the war effort, but oftentimes weren’t sure exactly what benefit their work was having? 

A: I think that overall in Britain there was a strong feeling that every little bit helped, and everyone felt pride in helping the war effort. People donated precious books and metal for the scrap drives without complaining. I think you’d be amazed how strong national pride was and how deeply everyone was invested in defeating the enemy. The ones who must have felt the stress most were those like Lady Pamela who could tell nobody what she was doing, and the young men at Bletchley who were working on almost impossible code deciphering. They often had nervous breakdowns because of the strain of knowing that if they didn’t break the code, ships would be sunk. 

What touched me the most in researching this book was that those Bletchley and MI5 workers could not tell anyone what they did during the war until the 1990s. So many parents died never knowing of the heroic work of their children, and husbands never knew their wives did anything other than office drudgery. So sad. 

Q: You are also the author of two historical mystery series—the Molly Murphy novels, about a feisty Irish immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City, and the Royal Spyness mysteries, about a penniless minor royal in 1930s Britain. The Royal Spyness books poke gentle fun at the British class system—about which you know a lot, having married into an upperclass family with royal connections. But you don't just rely on personal experience to create such multi-layered, complex stories. How do you do the research to write with such a strong sense of time and place about three distinct eras in the early 1900s? 

A: Research is one of my favorite parts of writing historical novels. I start by doing background reading for a book: I read the senate depositions after the Triangle fire when I was writing a book set in  the garment industry. For the Molly Murphy books, I go to New York and walk the streets Molly walked. Then I have hundreds of photographs of old New York City.  

For the Royal Spyness books I have a lot of biographies of the royal family, and I can actually visit places where I set my stories. My husband comes from an aristocratic family, and I get good ideas from observing his relatives and staying in their (rather large) homes. I spent one summer in Nice for one of the books, and this summer I was in Stresa, Italy, for next year’s book. Ah, the hardships of research! 

Q: We have to ask, will your next book take us back to Farleigh Field or are you working on something that will take us elsewhere? 

A: I may revisit these characters some time, as I left many threads unfinished, but the next book will take us to Tuscany for another WWII novel. More research hardships amid the wineries of Tuscany, I fear! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I have enjoyed stories from this author's other series, so I suspect I would like this story as well. Thank you also for the interesting interview, great snippets of information.