Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pegasus Falling by William E Thomas

I was contacted by Mike Harris who is the Grandson of the author of Pegasus Falling, he told me a little about the story behind the book and asked if I would like to read it.  

Mike has set up acuteANGLE books  solely to publish the Cypress Branches trilogy, of which Pegasus Falling is the first.

The author, William E Thomas was born in West London in 1925.  He left The Brompton Oratory School when he was 14 and started work as a messenger at the BBC.

When war broke out, he went to work with his father at a factory in Harrow.  While still a teenager, William joined the army and was soon recruited in to the Parachute Regiment.  By May 1945, he had been 'dropped' in to a number of key battles and become a much decorated soldier.  He was still only 19 years old.  Following the war, William served in Palestine until 1948.

William has six children.  As they were growing up, he was working and studying in shifts as a merchant seaman and an engineer.

In his mid fifties, he decided to work full time as a lab technician at his Alma Mater, The Open University and remained there until his retirement.  It was during his retirement that he decided to set himself the challenge of writing a novel.  The Cypress Branches is the result.

William was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2006.  His health has since deteriorated to the point where he can no longer live at home and he is now cared of at a home in Milton Keynes where he is visited by his wife Sheila and family members daily.

I have been kept spellbound by this wonderful story, William E Thomas has an amazing way with words and has created a cast of characters who are warm and realistic yet still have flaws.  He has taken much of the setting of this story from his own life experiences, and this shines through in his writing, only someone who was there could express such a real feeling for a place and an era.

Captain Stanley Adam Malcom Parker, aka Sammy, of the Parachute Regiment, is the hero of the story.  Captured during a daring battle with the enemy, he spends the rest of the war incarcerated within a concentration camp.  Sammy is a brash, outspoken man, who hands out his own personal forms of punishment.  

It is his inability to keep quiet and accept what is happening that lands him in more and more trouble, but it also helps him to discover Naomi - a beautiful, mysterious Jewish woman who has had to sacrifice her soul in order to keep her life.  Sammy and Naomi keep each other alive through the horror of this place, they are scared and they are desperate but their love somehow makes them stronger.

When, at last, the camp is liberated Sammy and Naomi become separated.   Near to death, and angry, Sammy is interviewed by high ranking officials from the Foreign Service.   And so, the reader is introduced to another strong female character; Lesley Anne Carrington.  A woman from a privileged background who is strong, takes no nonsense and also beautiful.

The story follows Sammy, Naomi and Lesley through the end of the war and moves from Europe to Palestine, detailing the plight of the Jewish people as they struggle to find a place that can be their home.

There have been many novels set during the war and detailing the horrors of the concentration camps, but this is the first one I have read that centres on what happened next to those prisoners who were lucky enough to survive the camps.

Willliam E Thomas
Pegasus Falling is an extraordinary novel, it is part love-story and part social history.  William E Thomas does not shy away from the politics of the era, and my only criticism would be that at times, I felt just a little bogged down by the political detail.  However, this does not take away from the strength of the novel at all.

I wish Mike Harris and acuteANGLE books lots of success with Pegasus Falling and would like to thank him very much for sending my copy.  I will look forward to reading It Never Was You, the second part of the trilogy as soon as it is published.


  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful review and encouraging words, Anne. I'll be popping a copy of It Never Was You in the post for you as soon as it's ready later in the year.

    All the very best,
    Acute Angle books

  2. I agree with Anne so much about her view of Pegasus Falling. But, on one point I disagree with her. I believe that the politics of the era are so clearly articulated by William in the first part of this trilogy that I can understand, considerably more now, about what happened in the immediate aftermath of WWII.

    When this is integrated into a wonderful love story that is so beautifully told, and that draws the reader into the characters' lives, many more readers, otherwise resistant to history books, will gain a greater insight into post-war politics in such an accessible and entertaining way.

    I am looking forward to reading the next two parts of the trilogy, hoping that the history of those troubled times will be incorporated as seamlessly into the gripping story of the times.