This is the story of a young woman who works as a singer in post World War I England and the wealthy war hero she marries. I am a fan of Philippa Gregory in general but I recently read Wideacre and that was awful, so I checked the reviews on Goodreads before starting this one. It seems that views are polarised, but for those who did not like it the main criticism is that it is depressing. Well, that’s war for you. I am not quite sure what people were expecting, Gregory’s books are often about the powerlessness of women in history. Her most popular book, The Other Boleyn Girl, hardly ended well for any of the Boleyn siblings.
Our protagonist is not the most lovable of people, she is quite selfish and shallow, but so are many people when they are teenagers. She ends up in a situation where she feels that she must marry a man that she does not love. This man turns out to have some terrible mental issues as a result of World War I and possibly also from his upbringing. It is indeed a sad story, but raises some thought-provoking issues about class, war and it’s effect on people and the relationship between husband and wife and how that has changed (thankfully).
This period between the two World Wars is my second favourite in English history (after the reign of the Tudors). It was a fascinating time, and, although it was terrible for those who lived through it, Great Britain would not be the country it is today had it not been for these two awful wars. I find novels telling the stories of individuals who coped with those massive societal changes fascinating.
The title of the novel is taken from a part of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, where the current age is discussed. He says how people in 1920s England had to go on living, despite the fact that their skies had fallen. Despite the fact that they had lost brothers, sons, husbands and homes. Despite the fact that women had been given freedom to work during the war only to have to go back to the home when the few men returned. Despite the fact that many of the men returning were mentally or physically damaged. Despite the fact that many things that they thought they knew about the class divide had changed. Going on living with fallen skies is what the characters in this novel did, and what so many Europeans did after World War I. Gregory paints an interesting picture of this period.