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|
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.