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Fair Stood the Wind for France

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

by H.E. Bates

Rating: ***

This is a lovely book and it is clear that Bates poured everything into it. There is a feeling of a real labour of love. There is also some incredibly fine writing. The parts describing Franklin's arm injury were among the most visceral and real that I have ever read and that includes descriptive passages in horror novels - it was very hard to read if you are squeamish (like myself) so be warned! The writing concerning Francoise's father's state of mind was blistering in its ability to really get to heart of utter despair.

However, I found the story a little wandering, I needed it to go into fifth gear and it never quite did for me. I also found the character of Francoise irritating. I think Bates wanted her to be this slightly elusive, detached character but I just found her one-dimensional and, at times, slightly unbelievable. The other issue I had, which may well be totally objective; I felt Franklin was much older which jarred with the girl being so young. His voice throughout the novel was, to me, that of a thirty-five/forty year old - not a man in his early twenties. This made me struggle with their relationship. I did not see the book as a beautiful love story just two people thrown together who were not particularly compatible and, as a result, I was not overly bothered whether they ended up together or not.

But, all in a all, a nice read with some very fine, perceptive writing.

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