Saturday 13 April 2019

Blog Tour: Guest Review of The Spitfire Girl in The Skies By Fenella J Miller

It is my stop on the Spitfire Girl in the Skies blog tour today. The second in the series by Fenella J Miller, this book is out now and you can click here to order your cop. I have a review for you today but don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more reviews and well as exclusive content and interviews!

Here's what it's all about:

The second Spitfire Girl novel from bestselling author Fenella J Miller. 

The ATA training base, Hampshire, 1940.
Ellie Simpson is attached to an Air Transport Auxiliary base in Hampshire. Life as an ATA pilot is tough, but despite the long hours and danger, Ellie can think of nowhere she'd rather be. Not only does she love flying, but doing important war work, alongside new-found friends, provides a welcome distraction from worrying about loved ones fighting on the front line.
Being an ATA girl is definitely exciting, but as Ellie soon finds out wearing the distinctive blue uniform also means putting her life on the line every time she takes to the skies. It will take friendship and a strength she didn't know she possessed to help her county – and those she loves – to survive. 

Review: This book is a romantic fiction set during the Second World War. The story commences in June 1940, when the main character, Ellie Simpson, is working as a radar operator in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). At this point in the war, Germany had invaded France, and Allied servicemen had just been evacuated from Dunkirk. Hence, Hitler's forces were present on the coast of France poised to launch an invasion of Britain. To accomplish this, they needed to achieve superiority in the air. Thus, the Battle of Britain, an attritional struggle between the German Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the skies above Britain, commenced. Due to the losses of men and aircraft during this struggle, it was vital that both were replaced. The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was a civilian organisation set up to ferry aeroplanes and supplies between factories, maintenance units and airfields. Since front line pilots were in short supply and could not be spared for such duties, the ATA's pilots were drawn from older men, or those who were not physically fit for front line service. They also accepted women pilots. Ellie had trained as a pilot and had run a flying school prior to the war. When she discovers that the ATA are recruiting women pilots, she applies and is accepted.

The story follows Ellie's adventures with the ATA over the remainder of 1940 up to the end of 1941. The romantic side of the story comes from her relationship with two men in her life, both fighter pilots in the RAF stationed at airfields in the front line of the Battle of Britain. One is her fiancé Greg, and the other is Jack who had run the flying school with her and who she looks on as a brother.

The book describes interesting details about life during the war, such as the fatigue suffered  by the pilots when they were flying numerous sorties daily during the Battle of Britain; wartime rationing; and the effect of bombing on the civilian population. Also covered are the efforts of Ellie's superior to get the powers that be to allow the women pilots to fly and deliver combat aircraft, including Spitfire and Hurricane fighters. At the outset, the women were allowed to deliver only training aircraft to RAF bases, although they were just as competent pilots as the men. There are many twists and turns to the romantic aspect of the story, but to say any more would be to give the plot away.

Although there are many interesting facts regarding the Second World War, there were at least two anachronisms. The first occurs shortly after Ellie reports to her ATA base at Hatfield in Hertfordshire in July 1940. The book describes a Mosquito bomber flying overhead. Although the de Havilland Mosquito was developed and built at the de Havilland factory in Hatfield, and at a nearby facility, the first flight of a Mosquito did not take place until November 1940. In the second anachronism, two characters are discussing the bombing of British cities during the winter of 1940-41 and saying that the Luftwaffe were carrying out the raids in retaliation for the RAF's bombing of the German city of Dresden. To the best of my knowledge, Dresden was not bombed by the Allies until early 1945.

However, overall I found the story to be exciting and easy to read, and could not wait to find out what was going to happen next. So, does Ellie get to fly a Spitfire, and will she find true romance? You'll have to read the book to find out.

About the author

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer. She has over thirty eight Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, three Victorian sagas and seven WW2 family sagas. She lives in a pretty, riverside village in Essex with her husband and British Shorthair cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.

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