ISBN-13: 9781416593140
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Published: December 2008 (Reissued)
509 pgs

This is the second book I read by Philippa Gregory after The Other Boleyn Girl. I really enjoyed reading the latter; there is so much historical stuff and drama in that novel. I do not think I will ever forget the characters like Mary and Anne Boleyn, or even King Henry VIII. Perhaps for these reasons, I had high expectations on Fallen Skies and I am glad this book does not disappoint me.

Set in the 1920s after the end of World War I England, this is a story of a war hero and a young chorus girl.

Captain Stephen Winters returns home after the war ends, but his soul is shattered. The cruelty and the horror of the war often left him with nightmares, but the worse of all is he could never stand the guilty thoughts after seeing so many of the soldiers died in the battlefields while he has survived. It does not please him further to find himself taking over his brother's role, who had also died in the war. He has lived his life meaninglessly until he meets a chorus girl, Lily Pears. Lily is like a breath of fresh air to him; she seems undaunted by the war and Stephen is quickly drawn to her purity, her gaiety and the way she look at life positively.

Seventeen-year-old Lily Pears has no idea she could make it big on stage, but an encounter with musical director, Charlie Smith changes everything after he has spotted her talent. She caught the attention of Stephen on her opening night of the show. They got acquainted and although Lily is drawn to his wealth and status, she is instead attracted and fell in love with Charlie. Unfortunately, due to an injury from the war, Charlie could not commit to her although they remain the very best of friends and offer each other support should anyone needs it.

However, Lily's mother passing has led to changes and Lily has no one to turn to except Stephen, for she knew he is very much attracted to her and he has offered to marry her. Lily agreed to it since she has not much of a choice, but unfortunately the marriage is not a happily-ever-after for her. Stephen is still troubled by the nightmares of the war and most often, he seeks solace from his mute batman, Coventry, whom had also shared the bad times from the war. Stephen is hoping the marriage to Lily will help him to forget everything but it seems it has the opposite effect, especially after she has given birth to a boy, Christopher, who bore the same name and reminds him too much of his late brother but most of all, Lily's coldness towards him reminds him of his loneliness and the war again. He feels Lily is no longer the same girl he had known from the past as there is a motherly radiance around her instead of the fresh and innocent girl who cares not much about the war.

Their relationship is strained although both of them still respect and talk to each other. It is only the disappearance of baby Christopher that leads to a tension in the Winters family and the police is called to investigate this matter. And from there there is a turn of events as suspense took over the story.

Fallen Skies was first published in the UK in 1993. One thing I love about Philippa Gregory's works is her ability of bringing all her characters to life, besides the historical settings and the history I came to learn about from her stories. Through this story, I learnt a few things about World War I and how the impact had caused to the soldiers, in which this case about Stephen Winters. He is one of those shell-shocked victims who could not brush away the images of the war and thus led it affect his life and towards the people around him. There are several scenarios which I was not sure if I should be angry or sorry for him.

Then, there is Lily whom I feel is much stronger as compared to Stephen. She has matured and her mindset has changed ever since her mother's passing. She took the role of a fighter instead of a whiner, but yet I see a different person in her when she is with her baby. She turns to a submissive role and is willing to do anything as long as Stephen would not hire a nanny to look after her baby. One has to marvel at the power of motherly love!

I was quite satisfied with the ending though, for I could not think of any other better scenarios than that. Although the impact is not as great as compared to The Other Boleyn Girl, I still think Fallen Skies is a powerful read.

(Note: I think this also fits for the Romance Reading Challenge since there is romantic love between Lily and Charlie although their story is bittersweet and a sad one.)
17 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    Great review, and this sound like a good book....I might think it over and read this book. But I will have to see...

  2. Alice Says:

    I'm happy to know that you enjoyed the book. I still haven't touch my copy of The Other Boleyn Girl.

  3. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    This is one historical time period I have not explored with my reading, but that I'm interested in. I love historical fiction. You know, if my History teacher only would have allowed us to learn about the past by reading these types of novels, I think I would have enjoyed the class much more!

  4. Beth F Says:

    I always associate Greggory with the Tudors. I really should explore her other novels.

  5. I'm definitely going to put this on the list. The only Greggory book I've read is The Other Boleyn Girl (although I do have others on the shelf), but I really like this time period! Good for her for breaking out of her mold, so to speak. And I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Darlene Says:

    Great review Melody. I haven't read any of Gregory's other books past her Tudor series but I'm thinking I really should. This one sounds really good.

  7. I didn't know the author had written something more modern (well, relatively speaking, of course). I am glad you enjoyed this one, Melody. It does sound good.

  8. The Bookworm Says:

    this sounds so good, great review.
    I'm a Philippa Gregory fan. She writes so well.

    p.s. it does fit into the Romance Reading Challenge :)

  9. Ana S. Says:

    I had no idea this was set after WWI! I find books set in that period so interesting. This is definitely one for the wishlist. Thanks for the great review, Melody!

  10. Ladytink_534 Says:

    It does sound like a great read! I've been meaning to read more by this author.

  11. Melody Says:

    Julia - Thanks! Let me know if you do read this book. :)

    Alice - Oh, you've to read The Other Boleyn Girl soon! I really enjoyed that book! :)

    Sandy - I agree about the history classes, LOL!

    Beth - Me too! I always think she writes more about the Tudors. I'm glad she writes other settings than that as well.

    Trish - I'm beginning to collect her other novels slowly. I love her writing style!

    Dar - Thank you! I really enjoyed this book! Very refreshing from her Tudor series.

    Wendy - I didn't know about it either until I stumbled upon this book sometime ago I visited the bookstore. I thought the cover also helps in catching my attention too. ;)

    Naida - Thanks! I'm glad to hear you're a fan of Philippa Gregory too! :)

    Nymeth - Thanks! I'm glad to hear you'll add this book to your wishlist! :)

    Jen - I know I sound like a broken record but I don't mind saying it again, hehe. Yes, I really enjoyed it! I think you might like it too. ;)

  12. Shana Says:

    Melody - This sounds like a great book. I've only read books by this author from the Tudor time period. Actually, I haven't read many books at all set in the WWI time frame. I'm glad you liked this one and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  13. Iliana Says:

    I'd like to this give one a try. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl. I thought Gregory did a great job at keeping the reader engaged and the book just seemed so suspenseful to me even though we all know how that story ends. Last year I tried to read another of her books, The Wise Woman, and it was just awful. I was so disappointed because I just couldn't believe it was written by the same author! So, needless to say I definitely want to read something else by her and see how that goes.

  14. Melody Says:

    Shana - It's a great book IMO! I do think her books set in the Tudor time period is good too, although I've only read one of those.

    Iliana - I'm sorry to hear The Wise Woman is a disappointment. I'm hoping her next book will be better! :)

  15. Marg Says:

    I love reading books set in this era, and a while ago really enjoyed reading Philippa Gregory books. I own this one, but haven't yet read it.

  16. Melody Says:

    Marg - Me too! I find it very interesting! I love Philippa Gregory's writing style and I'm looking forward to reading all her books in the near future.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    This is one of the few books by Gregory I have not yet read. Thanks for the review as I didn't know much about it.

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