Where Eagles Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel

Helena P. Schrader

Publisher: Cross Seas Press Pages: 594 Price: (paperback) ISBN: 9781735313948 Reviewed: December, 2020 Author Website: Visit »

The life of a fighter pilot on both sides of the Battle of Britain in all its confusion, fear, and soul-deadening fatigue is captured in Helena P. Schrader’s novel, Where Eagles Never Flew.

In a three-month period in 1940, the fate of England hung in the balance as the English defended against large-scale air attacks by Nazi Germany. This story is based extensively on first-hand accounts, with real people, including British Air Marshal Dowding and Germany’s “Fatty” Hermann Goering, woven into the story.

The fictional cast focuses on British fighter pilot Robin Priestman; his girlfriend, Emily Pryce; Ernst Geuke a lieutenant in the German Army; his girlfriend, Klaudia von Richthofen, and a host of others.

Robin meets anti-war pacifist Emily while on recuperative leave after breaking his ankle bailing out of an airplane. Meanwhile, Ernst, a plumber’s son, is desperately in love with upperclass Klaudia and too afraid to tell her. The men, on opposite sides of the battle, struggle through too many days on alert, too many combat missions, and too little support from the upper echelons of their militaries. Emily and Klaudia cope with different, but equally stressful, non-combatant military roles. Death and dismemberment lurk behind every corner. Who will live through this? And at what cost?

Better editing would enhance this narrative. Ill-placed hyphens, an excessive amount of “head-hopping,” as the author tells the story from different characters’ perspectives, and toggling between given names, official names, and nicknames all become frustrating.

Still, the author’s descriptions of aerial combat are nothing less than brilliant and thoroughly captivating: “Even as his own guns at last found their mark, Tolkien saw Ginger’s tail disintegrate under the combined fire of the Me110’s guns… ‘Ginger!’ Tolkien screamed one last time. But it was as much a howl of frustration and outrage – even horror – as a warning.”

Readers who can overlook the narrative’s flaws will find a realistic and compelling depiction of the madness of war in these pages.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Blue Hill, Maine