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Fair Stood the Wind for France

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  771 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Treacherous mud clutched at the wheels and the Wellington up-ended. End of mission. The great bomber had been giving the crew trouble since leaving Italy. Finally over occupied France, it settles like a weary, wounded eagle on what seemed to Franklin a hard, smooth field. The five members of the crew were welded by the crash into a single whole, one tiny forged weapon in t ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 386 pages
Published January 5th 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 1944)
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Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda, Laura, Lauren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick Van der Graaf
I quite enjoyed this book. It certainly has a 1940s British flavour, heavy on the descriptives, somewhat melancholy, but still gripping - I damn well wanted to know how it turned out. And in fact the ending surprised me.

It is the story of John Franklin, a British airman who along with his crew crash-lands in Occupied France during the war. He is the only one injured, and he and his crew manage to trek across country at night until they are taken in by a family of french farmers. Whilst convalesc
Nov 26, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I finished “Fair Stood the Wind for France” this morning, which gripped me to the last paragraph. I’ve read endless novels about the war but this was one of the most reflective, one which really tried to take a singular human view of the cataclysmic world events. While it affirmed that life goes on, and even flourishes in such circumstances, that the human spirit can triumph in adversity, it also heavily underlined the “agony of all that was happening in the world”. It was very moving in a quite ...more
Feb 28, 2011 Geoff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this when I was about seventeen. I was going through a period of reading lots of books about the war and FSTWFF was lent to me by my English teacher. It certainly changed my perspective about war books and from then on anything that had cardboard characters and transparent storylines I found disappointing. This Bates novel was deep, poignant, haunting and exciting. I read it again a few years ago and though the style is a little dated now it's still a superb story. I'm a great fan o ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Franklin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because the price was right and I thought it was about sailing ships. The edition I read was a hardback from the 1940's. The book is about a British aircrew that crash lands south of Paris and of their travails in trying to escape occupied France. The book is suspenseful, The pilot's arm is injured and infected. Crewmen and Partisans are constantly in danger from the occupation forces. There is romance. There is the brutality of war. The book was well written
Jul 05, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
Fair Stood the Wind for France is an astonishing novel. It wasn't the run-of-the-mill war novel I was expecting at all, but a lyrical, lovely tale of unlikely love. It grapples with themes of loss, pain, faith and sacrifice. And the writing! From Bates' dreamy opening passage, I was enthralled.

My full review is, as always, on my blog, Book to the Future:
Wendy Chard
Oct 27, 2011 Wendy Chard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always had something of a penchant for war literature, and this elegant, lyrical novel did not disappoint. It was stunning in a lot of ways, using the romance between John and Françoise to emphasise the tenacity of human emotion.

There was a lot of youthfulness in this book: the feeling that these characters are young and immortal and that their first real taste of love is enough to carry them across the impenetrable boundaries of occupied France. The war is a backdrop which makes the romanc
Jenny Nolan
Jan 06, 2014 Jenny Nolan rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute gem! It was published in 1944 and written in, I believe, 1942. I adore novels set in WWII, and the fact that this was written while the war still was raging makes it unique! It is the story of a downed English pilot and his crew. They are stranded in the French countryside and not sure who might be friend or foe until they happen upon a kind French family. The characters and the story are quite endearing.

I just reread this book and it was like visiting with an old friend
Brian Baker
Feb 12, 2012 Brian Baker rated it it was ok
I became a fan of H.E. following the TV adaptation of his 'Love for Lydia' in the late '70's - curled up with my girlfriend on her parents'sofa, the lyrical romance of it chimed with the way I felt at the time. A couple of years later, ejected from the sofa, I gloomily devoured more of Bates' lushly melancholic rural romances, but when it came to the wartime novels I baulked, hence this novel stayed on my shelf for over thirty years. Taking it down a couple of days ago I tried really hard to lik ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, novels
I picked this up looking for some wartime English sentimentality and thought this would be a good choice, given my weakness for Bates's post-war England of The Darling Buds of May series.

One of its strengths is the sense of place afforded by the loving description of the French landscape. Unfortunately I couldn't quite buy the relationships between the characters, including the central one between the protagonist and his love-interest. The ending is also a low point.

Nevertheless, there were inte
Jul 21, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda, Misfit
From BBC radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Dramatisation by Maddy Fredericks of HE Bates' classic tale of danger, suspense and romance in Second World War France.

When a British aircrew ditch over Occupied territory in the summer of 1942, injury and suspicion dog their attempts to survive and escape.
John Franklin is an English pilot who crashes his plane into occupied France and finds refuge for himself and four sergeants at a nearby farm. Luckily for him, one cool cucumber, Francoise, resides on the farm with her father and her grandmother. Francoise is a smart, young French girl who faces all kinds of adversity, including Nazis, in that awesome French insouciant way, and she isn't at all fazed when five dirty Englishmen pop out of the field while she's feeding her chickens. The men must s ...more
Catherine Law
Oct 11, 2013 Catherine Law rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this tale of a Second World War pilot whose plane comes down in German-occupied France is like walking into a world which is both exquisitely beautiful and terrifyingly dangerous. Badly injured, John Franklin is hidden by a French family at their remote farmhouse, which puts them and the daughter who he falls in love with at terrible risk. It is a story of fear, bravery, betrayal and the raw strength of love.

HE Bates was commissioned by the RAF and, due to his first-hand experience, his
Dec 09, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After my delight with the first of Bates' Pop Larkin novels that I finished, I immediately wanted more and reached for the only other unread title of his on my shelf - not from that series at all but an earlier more serious and conventional WWII story (although one of his best known, so a significant piece of the puzzle). Also I rather enjoy these 70s Penguin editions with stills from a BBC television adaptation on the cover - they all seem to portray the same woman.

A brave UK airman is shot dow
Judith Johnson
Jan 26, 2014 Judith Johnson rated it liked it
It's such a long time since I read this, I can't remember much detail! I bought it as my husband was playing the role of navigator in the TV adaptation. I was working for his agent at the time, and when I heard he'd got the part, I bought the book for him as a present. When I got home and he looked questioningly at me, I said "You've got the part!". Always nice to be able to tell an actor they've got work!
May 06, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
Although not one of the more popular and well known modern classics, ‘Fair Stood the Wind for France’ is definitely worth reading. First published in 1944, this novel was English author H. E. Bates first financial success in the writing industry. At the centre of the story appears John Franklin, (a wellington bomber pilot) who badly damages his arm whilst crash landing his crew in German occupied France. Set during the height of the Second World War, it is a gripping story line of fear, faith, f ...more
Mij Woodward
Oct 23, 2015 Mij Woodward rated it really liked it
A love story, an adventure story, the effects of WWII, a gripping thriller, a comrade’s poignant sacrifice. All rolled up into one.

Not until the final two pages did I learn the fate of the two main characters.

The author, H. E. Bates, was a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. (England’s air force). So he had firsthand knowledge of things. Some of his published works then bore the pseudonym “Flying Officer X”.

Fair Stood the Wind for France was published a year before VE Day. The war was still raging as
Oct 16, 2016 Pippa rated it really liked it
Very compulsive reading, and extremely interesting in that it showed a side of WW2 that hasn't been much talked about.
Aug 17, 2014 martin rated it really liked it
A surprisingly beautiful, bittersweet novel that was moving and enjoyable

Got this in a charity second hand book sale years ago, but never read it because World War 2, romance and planes have never been my favourite fiction themes. However, the imaginative title always caught my attention so I finally started it.
I had expected a novel written in wartime to be painfully jingoistic and motivational in that odd "come through adversity to win the war over the culturally less deserving enemy" style.
Katherine Holmes
Sep 12, 2014 Katherine Holmes rated it it was amazing
This is a darker side of H. E. Bates, quite somber throughout and very telling about an English pilot's crash in France and the subsequent loss of his arm. Franklin is dependent on a farming family for his survival and for his escape from the Nazis that appear unpredictably in the small French village. The story of his amputation and the girl who helps him is tense, his hiding in a mill loft and the French scene of a vineyard and river. Although prolonged, this is all developing into the theme o ...more
Joe Rodeck
Sep 29, 2014 Joe Rodeck rated it really liked it
"Because of his tears the mountains were dazzling in the sun."

Nicely written ala Hemingway. Downed pilot falls in love with French resistance girl who helps him.

Will he get back to England alive?

I was irritated that the heroine has no name, no age, no description (hair, eye color, anything!). She is only "the girl." The sex scenes (1944) probably torrid for the day are unintentionally amusing now.

Skillful prose carries makes this novel something more than a basic chase/escape story. And the
This is not your typical World War II novel. It doesn't focus on the brutality and the atrocities that were so much a part of the war. It's a very personal story, a story of compassion, bravery, and love. It's the story of British pilot John Franklin, whose plane was shot down in occupied France, and Francoise, the daughter of a French farmer who hid Franklin and his mates from the Germans. It's the story of bravery and sacrifice by Francoise's family, and of the love that grows between Franklin ...more
Emma Holtrust
Jul 07, 2015 Emma Holtrust rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Full review will follow as it's my classic of the month.
However, I did really enjoy this. The middle part was kind of slow, but that ending!!! Sooo intense!!!

Review for the 2015 Classics Challenge

This is the first classic of the challenge that hasn't been on my reading list for a long time. I got this book from my parents when they came to visit me in London. My mom said she loved this book and I thought the blurb looked pretty interesting,
Dan Walker
I've had to soften my stance on historical fiction and admit there is a place for this genre. And that place is to construct a scenario that concisely illustrates a lesson about history that we might otherwise miss.

I think the lesson this book shows us is that when we think of WWII we tend to think of the fighting and the massive armies and the titanic characters like Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and MacArthur. We completely forget about the real story, which is that ordinary people, due to no act
Nov 01, 2015 Antonomasia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Does anyone else remember an obscure mid-nineties British indie song that shared the title of this book, and/or featured it as a lyric, probably in the chorus?
It had a jaunty, upbeat but slightly fey sound, quite smooth production and a male singer whose voice wasn't very deep or full.
It's not the same as the folk song 'Fair Stood the Wind' (but that might have been a reference somewhere along the line). It felt like it was a little bit of a struggle to get the lines to scan and fit the tune.
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
Mar 12, 2016 Bree (AnotherLookBook) rated it really liked it
Shelves: alb-candidates
Very engaging story. Review to come!
David Harris
A disappointing read, there appeared to be several geographical inconsistencies in the book, such as they seemed to be escaping upstream at the start, then downstream at one point, then they were going upstream again. Also other unexplained inconsistencies, such as why were they so terrified of crashing in unoccupied France, yet when looking to escape occupied France they headed to unoccupied France? These inconsistencies distracted from the story such that I couldn't enjoy it. The main characte ...more
Bo'ness Library Bookgroup
Once again, there were mixed reactions to this classic wartime novel. Some of us thought it was slow-moving, though we agreed that this was not necessarily a bad thing as it allowed the relationships (between John and Francoise, and between John and the other airmen) to develop naturally. We thought it was very well-written with some vivid descriptions of the countryside, and we liked the narrative structure where the events flowed sequentially instead of jumping about all over the place like so ...more
Nicola Nicholson
Sep 07, 2016 Nicola Nicholson rated it really liked it
My father flew in Wellington bombers in the second world war and often describes flying over the Alps ,so this really gripped me. I thought it was beautifully written and enjoyed it a great deal. A very different kind of war novel.
Sharon Zink
Sep 21, 2016 Sharon Zink rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
An English airman gets shot down with his crew over France during World War II. They all survive. Nothing tragic really happens in the story until the end. The problem that I have with this book is that everything happens s-0 s-l-o-w-l-y.
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Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE is widely recognised as one of the finest short story writers of his generation, with more than 20 story collections published in his lifetime. It should not be overlooked, however, that he also wrote some outstanding novels, starting with The Two Sisters through to A Moment in Time, with such works as Love For Lydia, Fair Stood the Wind for France and The Scarlet Sword e ...more
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