Kate Breslin is again taking readers back to WWI and the ordinary people affected by the War to End All Wars. For this novel, Breslin patterns her main character Evelyn Marche on three real Belgian heroines, one who was a Red Cross nurse like fictional Evelyn. The real women, Gabrielle Petit, Edith Cavell, and Marthe McKenna worked as spies after the Germans invaded and took over neutral Belgium. Two of the three women eventually faced firing squads. In the novel, HIGH AS THE HEAVENS, Evelyn leaves Britain after learning that her husband's plane has been shot down and travels to Belgium to be with her mother and siblings there. When the Germans invade, Evelyn must fight to survive, and three years later, although she has been accepted by the Germans as a neutral Red Cross nurse, she bears many internal scars and guilt from her actions when the Germans first invaded. Now in Brussels and separated from her siblings, Evelyn and her mother play an important role in the Belgian underground. As the book opens, Evelyn travels by bike to meet a Brit parachuting in. But something goes wrong and the plane crashes. Evelyn finds only one survivor -- her husband.
This novel alternates in both time and viewpoint, but all pieces fit together in a cohesive, compelling story of love, resistance, survival, and faith. HIGH AS THE HEAVENS joins a number of well
written historical fiction books about civilians who lives are forever changed by war that I've read in recent years. Each one adds a bit more to my historical knowledge but also to my understanding of how civilians suffered and survived. One of the lasting images I will take away from this book is the necessity to live among the enemy that those people in occupied territories had to accept. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House. All opinions are mine.