Friday, January 26, 2018

The English Air by D.E. Stevenson

I'm a huge fan of Stevenson's cozy, British fiction. Many of her books have no plot, but are enjoyed for their pleasant conversations, copious tea parties, and quiet wisdom. So The English Air caught me completely off guard.

It's spring of 1938 and the English are sure that Chamberlain can keep them from going to war. In Germany a Nazi official sends his adult son, Franz von Heiden, to England to learn how the English think. He is preparing him to be useful should war ensue, but he doesn't realize that his son's time in England might change his plans. The "air" of England has more to do with attitudes and beliefs than with actual climate, and Franz soon finds it a struggle to continue hating the people he's been taught to see as fools.

The novel has the usual tributes to country life, home life, and family love, but it also has much more adventure than a typical Stevenson novel. Franz is faced with the choice to be true to his German heritage or to leave it all for his new country. As war breaks out, he is caught in the middle and it makes for a rollicking adventure. I find it fascinating that the book was written in 1940 when no one knew what the outcome of the war would be. The questions in Franz's mind would have been the same as in everyone's: Can the German government and the German people be separated when it comes to guilt? Is there any such thing as a "true" German? What will Germany be like after the war? Will it be a Germany to be proud of?

As I said before, this was much more thrilling than Stevenson's usual fare, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.



Amy Marie said...

I really enjoy D.E. and I haven't read this one! Sounds interesting! Thank you!

Michele Morin said...

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing this author's work - totally new to me!

Susan @ Reading World said...

I'll look for this. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy.