Where The Sky Begins

Rhys Bowen

Lake Union Publishing

August 2nd, 2022

Where The Sky Begins by Rhys Bowen is another home run regarding this historical novel. The reality of World War II plays a huge role in this novel.  Readers will take a journey with the characters as they see families separated when the children are sent to the countryside, husbands being called to fight in the war, the high casualty rate of RAF fighters, the societal class system, the civilian casualties after the German bombings, and the rationing of food.

“I thought of this woman, Josie, who grew up in London and was pulled from the rubble with nothing.  She had to start over with nothing. She was taken to the countryside where her life took one step forward. Because she was situated next to an air base, she became conscious of the war all the time. Every night the Germans had these waves of planes coming over London raining bombs on everybody. Many parents put their children on trains headed for the countryside even though they did not know where they were going. A small child was sent to people that were complete strangers.” 

Readers meet Josie Banks in 1940 London.  She has an overbearing husband who likes to emotionally harass her.  After he is called into service their home is hit by a German bomb.  Luckily, after sifting through the ruin of rubble and ash they find an injured Josie. Evacuated to the English countryside during her recovery, Josie ends up at the estate of aristocratic Miss Harcourt, a reluctant host to the surviving Josie. 

“Josie is resilient, honest, sarcastic, hopeful, spirited, kind, and smart.  She had a desire for beauty. Josie had perseverance and came through with everything life throws out at her.  My favorite scene in the book is when she realizes she is stuck with a bullying badly wounded husband. As the bombs were being dropped, she yells ‘take me, here I am.’ I found it very emotionally overwhelming to write the scene.” 

Josie shows her traits of courage, cleverness, observation, has a big heart, a sense of right and wrong, and her love for reading.  Slowly she and Miss Harcourt form a bond of sorts.  This irritates Kathleen, the actual mansion’s servant, who resents Josie and is jealous of her. Because the estate is adjacent to an air base, Josie gets the consent of Miss Harcourt to open a tearoom, bringing a feeling of home for the airmen. One of those she meets is Wing Commander Mike Johnson, a Canadian pilot who shows Josie respect and kindness.  As both grow fond of each other Josie must figure out how to deal with the conflict she is having between desire and obligation.  

“The books expanded her life.  The Nine Tailors was set in that part of the country; Little Women was a classic children’s book; and The White Oaks talks about a family in Canada. The book library was the first realization where Josie and the upper-class woman, Miss Harcourt, she was staying with, had anything in common. Remember when Josie first arrives Miss Harcourt says, ‘we will have to decide your duties.’ Josie immediately replies that she is willing to help, but ‘I ain’t no servant.’ Seeing Josie in the library for the first time allows Miss Harcourt to realize that some of the barriers can be broken down.” 

This is a riveting story with many twists and turns.  The bonus is that readers learn the character’s personal emotions, challenges, and struggles.  The characters come alive as the story progresses.



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.