Book Reviews

Heronfield | Book Review

Heronfield | Book Review Heronfield by Dorinda Balchin
Original Publication Date: 2012
Genres: Fiction, History
Source: I purchased this book

Heronfield. Amidst the bombs and bullets, the fear and confusion, it is sometimes the battles within our hearts that leave the deepest scars.

Experience a sweeping saga set in war-torn Europe during the desperate years of the Second World War. At its heart is a cast of characters who draw us into their lives from the defeat of Dunkirk to final victory:

Tony, a young man barely in his twenties who experiences the horror of Britain’s first defeat and offers his unique talents to the war effort, only to find that his secret work threatens his relationships with those he loves. David, Tony’s elder brother, fighter pilot and hero of the Battle of Britain. Sarah, whose work with the VADs brings her into contact with so many, forcing her to choose between a man with loyalty and honour or another with all the characteristics of a coward. Bobby, a young American GI for whom a posting to England brings love and hope. And at the center of it all, Heronfield, the manor house set amongst the gentle rolling downs of southern England, one time home for Tony and his family and now a war-time hospital.

Heronfield is witness to six long years of loyalty and love, anger and hatred, loss and betrayal.

Heronfield is an exciting novel about the lives of a wealthy British family during World War II

Heronfield is the manor house of the Kemshall family. When the war starts, the family lends their home to the British government to be used as a war hospital.

A Tale of Two Brothers

David Kemshall is a fighter pilot for the British; while Tony Kemshall secretly joins the British effort to help the French Resistance to fight the Nazis in occupied France.

Because of the classified nature of his work, Tony cannot tell his family about his activities in France. They don’t know that he is putting himself into as much danger as any soldier – possibly even more.

His father and brother are very disappointed that he is not in active combat, and he knows that he cannot tell them until the war is over.

Eventually, there is a confrontation between Tony and his father at the dinner table:

The rest of the meal was conducted in a frosty atmosphere. Unable to say anything about his secret meeting, Tony had remained silent, replaying his father’s angry words over and over again in his mind. His heart was heavy. Sir Michael’s words had cut him deeply, and for the first time in his life Tony had felt that he was a disappointment to those he loved the most.

Sarah, a young nurse engaged to a young man named Joe, is stationed at Heronfield House. She eventually meets Tony, and sparks fly. However, she is devoted to Joe.

Tony Risks His Life

Tony is trained in England to be a Resistance fighter in France. His fluency in French is one of the reasons why he is chosen. He has also spent much time at his grandmother’s estate in France and knows the area well.

He must go to France and discreetly put together a group of resisters to help him fight the Nazis. The adventures they have while doing so are exciting and make you want to read more!

Final Analysis

This novel is incredibly well-researched and well written. It goes rollicking along from one exciting adventure to another.

Tony, David, and Sarah are thoroughly nice young people dedicated to saving democracy.

Will Tony’s family ever find out about his Resistance activities?

Will Tony and Sarah end up together?

You must read it to find out!

You can read more about the author on her website.

If you enjoyed this review, please check out my analysis of No Greater Sacrifice by John C. Stipa!

About Dorinda Balchin

Born in England in 1957 Dorinda Balchin graduated from Warwick University in 1980 and began a career in teaching. In 2008, along with her husband, Dorinda gave up her teaching career and made a life-changing move to southern India where the couple ran a guesthouse before returning to the UK in 2015.

She has published several historical novels including Heronfield, The Cavalier Historian, and The Guardians.

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