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Fallen Skies

3.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,812 Ratings  ·  324 Reviews
The bestselling author of Wideacre returns with a dramatic story rich in human drama, emotion, and suspense, that explores the different impacts of World War I on a man and the woman who becomes his wife. They must truly accept the tragic past or risk losing the peace of the future together. First U.S. publication. Simultaneous with a hardcover library edition.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1993)
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22nd out of 33 books — 159 voters
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35th out of 62 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 15, 2009 Alistair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i did enjoy this . it is rather the equivalent of a sunday evening BBC costume drama in being well written , having a firm story line , clearly defined characters and being a bit of a page turner into the bargain . it is reassuringly safe and engrossing
set after WW1 it is a family drama involving a bullying ,cold , rich solicitor dehumanised by the war and his inferiority complex as the not so good son , his failed marriage to a younger , poorer and in his snobbish eyes not quite the right clas
”We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost.”- Erich Maria Remarque

Setting:England; 1921

Cover Thoughts?:I’d like to know what she’s leaning on, and why she looks so particularly happy about watching soldiers run to their death. But it’s nice enough, I suppose.

”’I tell you Lily is my saviour! She is free of the smell of it, free of the sound of it, free of the knowledge of it. How it happened I don’t know
Cynthia Haggard
Mar 29, 2012 Cynthia Haggard rated it it was ok
Philippa Gregory is a talented author with a knack for making characters come alive. But I have noticed a not-so-wonderful pattern to her novels: The beginnings are usually very strong, and then they peter off. Too many of her novels have weak endings. The most vivid example of this is THE WHITE QUEEN, which ended just before the tragedy of the murders of the two sons of the protagonist.

Unfortunately, this was another such novel. As with all of her novels, I loved the way it began. I loved the
Jan 06, 2009 Diane rated it did not like it
So far my least favorite of this author. I have read most of her others, that take place during the time ,of King Henry VIII, a period I love.
This book takes place after WWI, and although I wanted to find out how it ended, I did not enjoy is as much as The Boleyn Inheritance, The Other Boleyn Girl (which far surpasses the movie), and The Queens Fool. I have read a total of nine of her books so far. And on my to read list is her latest The Other Queen.
Jun 20, 2009 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't expected to enjoy Fallen Skies as much as I did. I still maintain that "The Other Boleyn Girl" is her best book, but this is way up there near the top of my list.

The vivid descriptions of the vaudeville theater, and the delicious glimpses of 1920s Portsmouth and Southampton, were so much fun. My heart thudded and ached in syncopation with Lily's. I was most definitely drawn into this book from the first few pages, and sad when it ended because I wanted there to be more of it to read!

Aug 22, 2010 Laura rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
This is the story of a young woman who works as a singer in post World War I England and the wealthy war hero she marries. I am a fan of Philippa Gregory in general but I recently read Wideacre and that was awful, so I checked the reviews on Goodreads before starting this one. It seems that views are polarised, but for those who did not like it the main criticism is that it is depressing. Well, that's war for you. I am not quite sure what people were expecting, Gregory's books are often about th ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Philippa Gregory is a brilliant author who writes historical fiction. I was captivated with her book, The Other Boylen Girl, and am working my way through many of her other books. This book is about post World War I and how challenging it was for soldiers and families in Britain to try to lead a normal life after so much tragedy. Now that I have completed the book, all I can really say is "Wow." The novel became more and more difficult to read as the content became much more difficult to 'digest ...more
Mar 19, 2009 mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Post-WWI, shell shocked gentleman, working class music-hall dancer/singer.

Love the period. I had thought all the P. Gregorys were Tudor-era.



The more of this I read, the more I like it!



This book reminds me of the sort I used to read on the subway headed downtown for work many years ago: thick enough for the long rides, engrossing enough to make me miss my stop, and addictive enough to have
Dec 10, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it
WWI is the backdrop for this saga, which is a change from Ms. Gregory's more common British royal tales. PG takes you into the depths of human emotions in this whirlwind novel. This one has it all. Love, hate, war, mystery, brutality all wrapped up in a story that is quite compelling. The 5 star rating was coming out, but the ending fell a bit short, for me. PG always creates the most interesting characters. You either love 'em or hate 'em.
The realm of the aristocracy never fails to intrigue, w
Amy Wilks
Jan 23, 2014 Amy Wilks rated it it was amazing
It took me some time to become enthralled with this book. The first few chapters rambled on slowly for me, and I wasn't clear where the story was going. About a quarter of the way in, I had a clearer picture of the story line and could not wait to see the ending.

The characters range from sweet and cheerful to absolutely detestable. I had great empathy for Lily, who always tried to do the right thing and who brought joy, innocence, and laughter into the Winters' home. The secret between Stephen
Apr 13, 2009 Donna rated it did not like it
didn't finish, depressing, and I didn't care
This is a historical fiction book set just at the end of World War I in England, during the 20s, flapper time. This is a time frame i know almost nothing about...I watched Chicago, but that's about I'm glad to read this. Unlike Gregory's other books I've read, these characters weren't real people, but the sentiments they expressed mainly were. Here is a whole country full of people who seem to have lost their innocence. They describe sending the men off to war like it's a game, and then ...more
Victoria George
Jan 12, 2014 Victoria George rated it really liked it
I'll write a review when I get home from work today

OKAY so. This effing book. This whole review is going to be spoiler after spoiler so I'm gonna tag all of it except for the end when I give the "So essentially, what I think is..." part.

(view spoiler)
Thea Guanzon
Apr 15, 2011 Thea Guanzon rated it did not like it
Very dragging in parts, and with some quite abrupt changes in POV that jar the flow of the narrative. Prose is bland, bordering on insipid. Gregory suffers from lack of adherence to the golden rule, "show, don't tell", and I'm sorry but I've read quite a lot of her books and the woman cannot write a positive strong female character to save her life. Lily, like all of Gregory's protagonists that I've encountered, is whiny, hysterical, helpless and impossible to sympathize with. Everyone else in t ...more
Amy John
Jul 29, 2010 Amy John rated it really liked it
You really have to force yourself to get through the first few chapters of this book. It is a very subtle read with very few climaxes until the ending. It is basically about a young girl under her mothers care and guidance who at first is a strong influence to the main character but trails away near the end. It almost as if when she ends, the driver of her husband picks up as her role model. The ending was very surprising with a lot of fanatic and surprising emotions coming from the character, y ...more
Amy Burbidge
Feb 27, 2010 Amy Burbidge rated it liked it
I have a hard time really getting into a book when there isn't anything redeeming about the main characters. I kept hoping for a change to occur, some catharsis to take place to wrap it all up in a nice package, but alas, no such luck. The ending was a bit of a let-down. It seemed incomplete, like just the ending to the incident at the end of the story rather than an end to the story. It left me feeling unsatisfied. Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough for it.
Jan 31, 2014 Jo rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure about this novel at first. It was obviously one of Philippa Gregory's earlier novels, as it didn't have that same confident, assured prose style that her more recent historical novels have. I think she took a risk introducing a flawed and unsympathetic lead male character first, as this could have alienated some readers. However, once Lily is introduced, then it becomes a much easier read.

I found the whole 'want to be a star of the musical halls' scenario, but then she's whisked aw
Jan 28, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it
I think I have knack for reading books no one else likes. If you pick up this copy based on my review, and really did not like it. I am so sorry.

"Fallen Skies" is a bit of an echo of the other 1920's novel "The Great Gatsby", by means, the main characters Stephan and Lily, are always trying to reclaim the past-we all know that will end disastrously. Lily wants to pretend the war never happened and had never soiled her childhood. Stephan wants things to go back to "the time before the war", neth
Jackie Weishaar
May 22, 2009 Jackie Weishaar rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book. It shows the underbelly of the post WWI era. I found that I grew very angry at how women were treated at that time. They had very few rights and men could divorce his wife for any reason. The wife on the other hand rarely had no grounds, and if divorce was pursued they would lose everything including their children. I was kind of cranky with my husband while I was reading this book.
Mar 19, 2016 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, because it was a straightforward read & an engaging one at that. A love triangle (of sorts) between two WW1 heroes. Lily is in love with Charlie, someone who loves to work at a local theatre since his war injuries. But Charlie has feelings for her, but with an age gap he feels he cannot be the man she deserves. He is injured. Stephen with his pockets full of money & a mansion then ensnares Lily. Betrothal would be the wrong word. They marry. They consummate the marriag ...more
Another reviewer called it a BBC drama and that is an accurate description of the storyline. As you read, you start picturing in your mind which British actor should be playing which parts. And of course no BBC production would be complete without Colin Firth as the damaged Stephen Winters.

I really enjoyed this book and was able to burn through it quickly. I do wonder however if I would have liked it as much if I had no read it on vacation where I had time to kill. I feel as if I likely would ha
April Hochstrasser
Jun 12, 2009 April Hochstrasser rated it liked it
My one complaint about this book was that it was too long. I liked the story and the contrast between good and evil. But she took 500+ pages to tell the tale.
Sep 21, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
Her historical fiction is much better.
Oct 02, 2015 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory! As someone who's only read her historical novels, I was unsure how I would find this book given that it's based on fictional characters. However I found myself deeply immersed in their lives and wishing the book would extend beyond its 640 pages.

Set after the First World War, Fallen Skies is the story of Stephen, a returned soldier of upper class roots who falls in love with Lily, a fiercely independent showgirl. It has the makings of a romanc
Apr 20, 2009 Kirsta rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 04, 2009 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb historical novel with tragic themes. Phillipa Gregory demonstrates the she can craft such a great story that takes place in the past century. (This book was initially released in 1993. Due to Gregory's popularity, it has been reissued.)

The story focuses on the dysfunctional marriage of Lily Valance and Captain Stephen Winters. Stephen was traumatized by his service during World War I. He is clearly suffering from PTSD and other issues. Yet he refuses treatment of any kind and is
May 21, 2009 Carol rated it really liked it
The author is well-known for her historical novels about royal personages, but this book, first published in 1993 and re-issued in 2008, is among her best and is timely in this era of war. It is set in the immediate aftermath of World War I in England. A former officer from an upper-class family is haunted by dreams of the war. He falls in love with a pretty, very young music-hall performer, seeing in her naivete the pre-war innocence he misses. The impoverished girl reluctantly marries her rich ...more
Juanita Carter
When I read the last page my initial reaction was, "WHAT?!" and I was mad, but later I was fine with the ending. I hated Stephen the entire book and found myself saying "run girl!" out loud to Lily, but obviously that is my opinion. This book makes me thankful that I grew up the way I did, with the mother I did, and so on. Written well and I think in a good era (WWI) which I don't know as much about as earlier or later time periods. At first I thought Lily was a bit light and fluffy, but I think ...more
Jan 30, 2010 Brittany rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People interested in the 1920s
Recommended to Brittany by: Tegan
How I Came To Read This Book: My friend Tegan randomly bestowed books on each of us one day, and I ended up with this one.

The Plot: It's 1920 and Lily Valance is a burgeoning starlet who just wants everyone to forget about the war and have a good time. Her joie de vivre catches the attention of a WW1 hero and wealthy lawyer named Stephen Winters, who aggressively pursues Lily to become his wife. As Lily is drawn into Stephen's world she realizes how strongly silence can mask pain and deception,
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 27, 2015 11:49AM  
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Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acc ...more
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