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Fair Stood the Wind For France

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,555 ratings  ·  146 reviews
'Simple and direct in its characterisation and writing, Fair Stood the Wind for France is perhaps the finest novel of the war... The scenes are exquisitely done and the characters - tenderly and beautifully drawn - are an epitome of all that is best in the youth of the two countries. This is a fine book which makes the heart beat with pride.' The Telegraph

'Beautiful but si
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1944)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,555 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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This novel is problematic. To anyone poised to attack me with the specious argument that the novel reflects the moral orthodoxy of the time and can therefore be exempt from any criticism in this department: beware, your efforts to enlighten me will be in vain. Fair Stood the Wind for France is astoundingly insensitive towards the French Occupation and the entire dynamic of the novel is typical of wartime propaganda: Allied heroism and moral rectitude is a shining beacon against the ignominy of t ...more
Nov 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
By the time that this novel was published in 1944, H.E. Bates had been publishing all manner of literature for almost 20 years. Writing seems to have come naturally to him. His second novel (the first having been discarded) was published when he was a mere lad of 20. When the Second World War broke, he had another eight published novels to his credit, along with children's books, short stories, and essays. Since the Air Ministry recognized that readers of the time would prefer to read stories ab ...more
Well written story about an English pilot and his crew who due to mechanical issues are forced to land in Occupied France during WW11.

Even though it is primarily of a romantic nature it was the relationship and courage shown by a French family who took the crew in and looked after their well being that was the drawcard of this story.

I've read other novels about this period in history but this was a bit different in that it showed a more personal and intimate portrait of the Occupation.

From the G
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those novels that was difficult for me to rate. The writing was wonderful at times. My measured view is a four, but it was an engrossing, sensitive, thoughtful portrayal of the Second World War and the lives of those caught up in desperate times.
I need to sit a moment until my heart stops thudding. A thrilling adventure. A masterpiece. Emotional on every level. I could not put this one down. Five stars!
Mary Durrant
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very moving account of war torn France.
Beautifully written, a compelling tale of love and redemption set against the horrors of war!
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first 5-star read of the year.

First published in 1944, Fair Stood the Wind for France was written in the midst of WW2, a time when its author – the British writer H. E. Bates – could not have known precisely how or when the conflict would end. A fascinating point considering the subject matter at hand. Described by some as one of the finest novels about the war, Fair Stood is in fact much broader than this description suggests. Amongst its many themes, the book touches on the need to trust ot

A romance during wartime in occupied France. A British pilot crashes his plane and he and his crew set off across the countryside. The pilot has suffered an injury and becomes delirious with infection. A French family takes them in and helps; this family includes a young woman who falls in love with the pilot and he with her. It is a slow moving book but very tense. Romance set against death and grief. Wartime set against the natural beauty of the French countryside. The tension builds to a cres
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in occupied France during the Second World War, this book was written while the war was taking place which adds an additional dimension of suspense to an already suspenseful story.

The suspense begins early on when John Franklin, the young British airman who is the protagonist of this story, realizes that his plane has malfunctioned forcing him to bring it down in a French field. “He was aware of all the sound of the world smashing forward towards him, exploding his brain, and of his arms st
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
There's a particular smell associated with the Second World War...the fragrance familiar to me from museums, Churchill's War Rooms, National Trust houses, and the few things passed down to me from my's leather, machine oil, metal, and hope, mixed with the scent of blood, sweat and tears.

This is a moving tale of small acts of defiance, not big gestures. There are no shoot outs or nasty Nazis wearing monocles and riding boots. There are some downed RAF airmen, one badly injured, h
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Judith Johnson
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! ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Brian Baker
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
Mij Woodward
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
Nicola Nicholson
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
Very engaging story. Review to come!
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 3.5 stars, disappointingly. The first 40% of the book was great, heading for 5 stars from me. Bates has my favorite sort of writing style--chock full of atmospheric detail, internal reflection, and propulsive plotline. Our group of British airmen have a winning camaraderie and their soldierly tactics are interesting. The French family they engage with are seasoned, tricky, and somewhat mysterious. The whole story up to page 104 is from main character Franklin’s point of view.

Where it star
Written in 1944, this is the account of a pilot`s crash landing and subsequent escape from occupied France. He is badly injured and he and his four man crew set off walking west. They arrive at a farm where the people are friendly and help. There is a girl and the inevitable happens, they fall in love. The complications because of his arm are enormous and the French deciding to riot in the nearby town don`t help!! It is historically interesting because the escape route eventually takes them thro ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1944, the book was written before the outcome of WW 2 was known. For some reason, I particularly enjoy these types of books - the unknown.

This is an historical fiction of four English airmen, the pilot and three Sergeants, flying their plane from enemy territory to return to England over France. Unfortunately, the plane does not make it and they crash in France, abandon their plane and have no real idea where they are. Great story. Occupied vs. Unoccupied France. French vs. the Engl
S Murdoch
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't feel qualified to write a review of this book. HE Bates is suvh a master, it feels wrong even to try. I won't. I'll just say it's wonderful. ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second WWII novel by Bates that I've read and both have been great reads and somewhat different from the usual characters and plots. He seems to be an author with an abundance of creativity, insight, and sympathy. This was a lovely adventure/romance about loyalty, faith, courage, and humanity. ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written wartime romance. This book both had my adrenaline rushing and my heart fluttering, as it’s the perfect mixture of wonderful romance and extreme suspense!!
Brian Yatman
I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed (and was moved by) this. I can't believe a young Dirk Bogarde didn't star in a screen adaptation. ...more
Dec 09, 2013 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
Jenny Nolan
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katherine Holmes
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
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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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