Tuesday, 1 October 2013

That Burning Summer

That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson
Paperback pages

Expected Publication 3rd October by Hot Key Books

Shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, cover-appeal, historical, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, ww2, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Romney Marsh, July 1940. When invasion threatens, you have to grow up quickly. Sixteen-year-old Peggy has been putting on a brave face since the fall of France, but now the enemy is overhead, and the rules are changing all the time. Staying on the right side of the law proves harder than she expects when a plane crash-lands in the Marsh: it's Peggy who finds its pathetic, broken pilot; a young Polish man, Henryk, who stays hidden in a remote church, secretly cared for by Peggy. As something more blossoms between the two, Peggy's brother Ernest's curiosity peaks and other secrets come to light, forcing Peggy and Henryk to question all the loyalties and beliefs they thought they held dear.

In one extraordinary summer the lives of two young people will change forever, in a tense and gripping historical drama from Lydia Syson, the author of the acclaimed A WORLD BETWEEN US.

Okay, first thing first - that cover! Yes, I completely unashamedly fell for the gorgeous vintage-style cover of That Burning Summer before I knew what the book was even about (though the contents are portrayed pretty well on the cover, actually). I am so glad that That Burning Summer caught my eye after finding out it was set in England during World War Two, I picked it up and absolutely devoured it.

That Burning Summer is set in rural England during the Second World War. We are introduced to Peggy, a sixteen year old, who one day, during her daily chores, stumbles across someone who she does not expect to meet - a young Polish pilot named Henryk. Neither are sure whether or not to trust each other, but they do begin to bond until Ernest, Peggy's younger brother, finds Henryk and becomes suspicious. Not only are there obvious difficulties with knowing who to trust or not during a war, we also sometimes have to wonder whether one family member can trust the family member as there are is also an interesting subplot regarding Peggy and Ernest's father. I believe that the main focus of the story is intended to be the gradual building relationship between Peggy and Henryk, but there felt like there was a lot more to think about or to consider if you weren't actually interested in 'romance'.

Due to the historical setting of the book, it is clear that this is also a big feature of the book, perhaps more so than anything else. It is very apparent that the author, Lydia Syson, has taken a lot of time and care when writing this book, and I really appreciated that, it was great to be reading and to be learning at the same time. I can't say that I knew much about the roles of the Polish in our RAF services during the war, so it was good to be enlightened! Though I did learn a few new things and appreciated the facts that I already knew, I liked how the information was shared - I never once felt like I was being filled full of facts, and I was never bored!

What I loved most about this book was the ease of reading - it was just so lovely to read. I can imagine that this would be great to read in one sitting or as slowly as you like, there is something about it that is so relaxing. To me, it felt like it would have made a fantastic sunday night drama on the TV - an enthralling story with a sweet ending. I really enjoyed this relaxing read and I hope that many others will do too, whether they are older children, young adults or adults. I will definitely be looking out for more books by Syson.


  1. I agree that cover is stunning! I love historical YA (I recently read Code Name Verity and loved it so much) so I'm really looking forward to this and her first novel about the Spanish Civil War (another gorgeous cover!). Lovely review :)


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