WHEN WE FALL BY CAROLYN KIRBY
PUBLISHED MAY 7TH 2020
BY NO EXIT PRESS
THE ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF THE CONVICTION OF CORA BURNS
England, 1943. Lost in fog, pilot Vee Katchatourian is forced to make an emergency landing where she meets enigmatic RAF airman Stefan Bergel, and then can’t get him out of her mind.
In occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman hosts German officers in her father’s guest house, while secretly gathering intelligence for the Polish resistance. Mourning her lover, Stefan, who was captured by the Soviets at the start of the war, Ewa is shocked to him on the street one day.
Haunted by a terrible choice he made in captivity, Stefan asks Vee and Ewa to help him expose one of the darkest secrets of the war. But it is not clear where everyone’s loyalties lie until they are tested…
Published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day and based on WWII war atrocity the Katyn massacre, When We Fall is a moving story of three lives forever altered by one fatal choice.
“All of the victims of the Katyn massacre were men, except, remarkably, for one woman. And when I discovered that this woman, Janina Lewandowska, was a pilot, I knew that the Polish experience would become the heart of my novel….The story is fiction, but it is one that I could not have begun to imagine without the remarkable life and death of Janina Lewandowska”
This fictional historical novel centres around the real life event of the Katyn Massacre during WW11, where thousands of Polish military were massacred and buried in a mass grave within the Katyn forest.
This story, however, mostly focuses on three main characters away from this tragedy in both England and Poland.
Vee Katchatourian works for the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary, a department I hadn’t heard of before, who, among other things, delivered planes to airfields after manufacture.) Woman were used as well as men to pilot these planes with very little training. Impatient to get up in the air, Vee is regarded as some what impulsive and therefore doesn’t always notice the important stuff, but she is keen to do her job and do it well. She meets Stefan Bergel, an RAF pilot after having to make an emergency landing, which in the book reads to be only a few miles from where i live! I love making connections likes this in a book, they always help to bring it to life . As soon as they meet there is a strong connection between the two and Vee can not get him out of her mind. However Stefan holds many secrets and a very important job to do. One that Vee later becomes very closely involved in.
Eva Hartman lives in Poland and with her father, runs a guest house for German officers. Her father seems happy to serve these people, believing it is the best way for both of them, but unknown to him, Eva or Ewa, her real name, is a member of the resistance. She is very much still Polish and does everything she can to help her country.
The story follows these three characters over a period of time, weaving true details into a moving and brilliantly written, engaging story of WW11 lives. As the book progresses we read of their heroic acts and the dangers they all encounter. It cleverly uses the extraordinary day to day lives of Vee and Ewa, running parallel to each other, to gradually see how these two lives become connected. I particularly enjoyed the character of Ewa, I warmed to her instantly and loved the way the author wrote this character as she carried out her Resistance work. I also liked the way she wrote out her thoughts, always knowing what the character was thinking when it was at conflict with what she was saying.
I thought this book was extremely well written and informed me of an event in history I knew nothing about. It is also a novel that draws you in with it’s wonderfully rich characterisations. The towns and buildings were vividly described and I found it a very moving and informative read.
When We Fall is out now and can be purchased directly from the publisher http://noexit.co.uk/index1.php?imprint=1 where they are currently running a massive 50% discount on physical books, as well as your local bookshop or larger sellers. I believe there are also signed copies available from Wallingford Bookshop in Wallingford Oxfordshire.