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  • Location: Sussex

The Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour

Why a Booktrail?

WW2: Set in the midst of the Battle of Britain, a young pilot and a promising artist fall in love. One of the paintings she does resurfaces years later and brings with it a few ghosts from the past…

  • ISBN: 978-0007513154
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

The Battle of Britain is in full flow and war artist Eve Lucas is keen to paint and to get her work noticed. She paints for her country, receiving commissions and painting scenes with the planes she sees up above. She meets a young pilot and the two fall in love but there are some deeply against their union.

Years later and Lucy, an art historian has just lost her husband. She is commissioned to write Eve’s story, but the more she researches, the more she realises that ghosts from the past are trying their best to keep family secrets hidden.

The mystery deepens as one of Eve’s famous paintings was in the possession of Lucy’s husband when he died in a car crash. An accident to which there were no witnesses, or were there?

Travel Guide

1940s Britain

With Spitfires taking off from the Westhampnett air field in Chichester West Sussex and the Battle of Britain raging in the skies above the Sussex countryside,  a young artist named Evelyn records it all in her paintings.

She paints the landscapes and the changes she sees, the planes overhead and a certain young pilot named Tony. They fall in love but are forced to sneak time together for Tony is on call  – a call to war could come at any time.

Fear and mistrust colour the landscape. As the author’s own father was in the battle of britain, the war is evoked in poignant detail

“Somewhere overhead were her lover and brother. She recorded the spiralling smoke trails, trying to keep her fears at bay with the sheer speed of her drawing”

Eve is a painter and her love of painting shines through. She captures the human effects of the war on canvas. Her painting is also an escape from not only the war and the effects its having on farms like her family’s but the farm work she is still expected to do as a woman at that time. The War Artists Advisory committee allows her to do what she loves, but war is not far away –

“More pictures were wanted apparently of gentle idyllic pre-war farm life, sentimental dreams for people sickened by war and pain.”

Jealousy, betrayal and lies dot the landscape of war time and it’s only years later, via the character of Lucy do we find out just how much they dominated. People act differently in war time and skeletons in family closets come tumbling out one by one…

Present day

Grief opens up the present day with the untimely death of Lucy’s husband. Death destroys hopes and dreams and grief is a powerful emption as well as a weapon.”
Ghosts from the past attempt to right the wrongs of the past and there are many moments, faded snapshots of the past, which blend into the present bringing with them sadness, poignancy and regret. In the village church (fictional Chilverly) where Evie’s brother memorial is –

“The whole history of the community was here”.

“Evie would have come here, Evie would have stood on this precise spot gazing at her brother’s memorial with tears in her eyes..this place was part of her history and part of her life.”

Lucy is keen to find out what it was about Eve that she captures in her paintings, how this one woman fought for what and who she loved. The journey of the two women dealing with grief and hardship are intertwined over present day and war time England

Booktrailer Review

Susan:

Ah I loved this. The battle of Britain as seen by those who experienced it – from the young pilot to the young girl who fell in love and the brother’s desire to protect his sister from beyond the grave.

The past and present blend seamlessly to show  how the past can literally come back to haunt us. The discovery of the war through Eve’s paintings was stunningly evoked even though the paintings were with words. I loved falling back in time and hoping that Eve and Tony would be happy and hoping that the ghosts from the past would help Lucy in the present.

A gorgeous and poignant tale and I think Barbara’s father would be proud that his legacy has been woven into such a tale about war time and those who lived it.

Packet of tissues essential.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:

Twitter: @barbaraerskine

Facebook: /barbaraerskineofficial

Web: barbara-erskine.co.uk

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