In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen



In Farleigh Field
A Novel of World War II
by Rhys Bowen
On-sale March 1, 2017


Farleigh Place is removed from the war by more than just miles.  While bombs rain down on London just an hour away, life goes on as usual at this Downton Abbey-like estate in the countryside.
Hampered only by a skeletal wartime staff, a dwindling supply of meat coupons, and an army regiment that's taken up residence at the big house, Farleigh is almost too idyllic to be real—until
one night, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the grounds, and the war literally hits home for Lord Westerham and his five daughters.  Inspired by the real events and people of World War II, IN FARLEIGH FIELD (Lake Union Publishing; On-sale March 1, 2017) is a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal by Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels and three award-winning historical mystery series.
In Bowen's latest page-turner, her fictional storyline is rooted in historical truth. The pro-German societies referenced in this novel were known to have existed in England in the early days of
the war. Some of the most dangerous were composed primarily of aristocrats—and there are plenty of
aristocrats in Farleigh. So when the dead parachutist, carrying only a photograph, is presumed to be a
German spy sent to deliver a message to someone in the vicinity of Farleigh Field, the neighborhood’s most powerful and wealthy aren’t ruled out as targets of suspicion. Ben Cresswell, an M15 operative and son of the local vicar, is dispatched to find the traitor in their midst. And though this quiet bucolic region may seem like an unlikely place to harbor a sympathizer, the area’s black marketeers, arrogant pragmatists, and foreign refugees also raise concerns.
With the help of his lifelong friend and secret love, Lady Pamela—herself a civil servant who cracks
German codes at Bletchley Park—Ben investigates for spies and sympathizers. When he learns of The Ring, a secret society that wants to depose the king and make peace with Germany, he can hardly
believe it's real. Can Ben and Pamela infiltrate The Ring? And can Ben find out what the photograph
means in time to stop the crisis that could bring Britain to its knees?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty mystery novels. Her work includes the Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1900s New York City, and the Royal
Spyness novels, featuring a minor royal in 1930s England, as well as the Constable Evenas mysteries about a police constable in contemporary Wales. Rhys’s works have won fourteen awards to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards. Her books have been translated into
many languages, and she has fans from around the world, including the 12,000 who visit her Facebook page daily. She is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona. Connect with her at rhysbowen.com.

A Conversation with Author Rhys Bowen

Q: Although it’s a work of fiction, IN FARLEIGH FIELD is very closely rooted in the truth. Pro-
German societies, like those referenced in the book, did, in fact, exist in England at the start of WWII.
Some of the most dangerous were composed mainly of aristocrats who believed that making peace
with Germany would spare the destruction of British national treasures. Because Germany respected
aristocracy, having given up their own, some British assumed they would be treated well under Hitler's
domination. Do you think these people were motivated by arrogance or a twisted sense of patriotism?
Would they have actually aided an invasion?

A: I think there was a feeling among some aristocrats that Germany was not so bad, that the Brits had a
lot in common with the Germans, that Hitler actually liked Britain and felt them to be fellow Aryans.
Certainly the Duke of Windsor (former Prince of Wales) displayed this sentiment, which was why he
was shipped off to the Bahamas. For some it was a genuine sense of wanting to spare the population
more merciless bombing and save national treasures. And I think there was a sense of fatalism that
Britain couldn’t ever resist the might of Germany and would fall in the end. Remember that an
invasion was imminent when Hitler suddenly turned his sights on Russia and Britain was spared.
As to whether they would have aided in an invasion? I can’t tell you. Luckily it was never put to the
test.

Q: World War II created opportunities for women that would not have existed had so many men not
been taken out of the workforce and put onto the battlefield. In the book, debutantes like Lady Pamela
Sutton were sought after for government work, since they were “brought up to do the right thing.
Hence will not let the side down and give away secrets.” In fact, the Duchess of Cambridge’s own
grandmother was a “Bletchley Girl!” Did the war herald a new era for working women, or was it a
temporary equality based on necessity? And what impact did the women have on the war effort?

A: Certainly the war gave women opportunities to prove that they could do almost anything. Look at
Rosie the Riveter in America, and our Queen Elizabeth learning how to fix car and truck engines. My
own aunt rose quite high in the British admiralty. She was in charge of equipment deliveries and would
yell into the phone “I need those submarines by Monday. I don’t care what you have to do. Make it
happen.” Then after the war all the men returned and she was offered a job as a secretary again. She
quit and went into teaching. This was a common theme, I’m afraid. “Thank you for your service. Now
go back to wearing an apron and baking cookies.” Look at all the 1950s TV shows glorifying the stable
suburban family and “father knows best” mentality.

Q: Lady Diana is 19 and furious about the war. She was supposed to come out last year, and because
she hasn't had her debutante season and been presented at court, she's stuck in Kent, dying of boredom.
Despite doing their bit, it seems as though many aristocrats felt more inconvenienced by than invested
in the early years of the war. Was the divide drawn along class lines, or did the sanctity of the
countryside insulate them from reality until the war really did start to feel closer to home?

A: Of course they didn’t suffer the terrible bombing of the cities, nor the privations of food and
supplies that city dwellers felt. People who owned land could at least feed themselves when others had
to line up on the rumor that a certain shop had a shipment of cod or cauliflowers. The ration was a
quarter pound of meat per person per week. But most aristocrats had their houses taken over by the
government. Troops were billeted there, as in my story, or they became secret government
departments, schools evacuated from the middle of cities or even hospitals for rehabilitation for men
sent home from front lines. Sometimes homes were left completely trashed after the war—heads shot
off statues, paintings slashed. And the upper classes certainly had their share of sacrifice of their own
sons. My husband’s cousin’s family lost three sons on the same day, all three heirs to the property
gone.

Q: While home on leave from her job translating decoded messages, Lady Pamela learns that the
gamekeeper's son is missing and presumed dead. Until then, her work had seemed like an academic
puzzle, unrelated to real events, but this event makes her wonder about the importance of even the
most menial of tasks. What toll did this kind of secretive, code-breaking work take on civil servants,
like Pamela, who were key to the war effort, but oftentimes weren’t sure exactly what benefit their
work was having?

A: I think that overall in Britain there was a strong feeling that every little bit helped, and everyone felt
pride in helping the war effort. People donated precious books and metal for the scrap drives without
complaining. I think you’d be amazed how strong national pride was and how deeply everyone was
invested in defeating the enemy. The ones who must have felt the stress most were those like Lady
Pamela who could tell nobody what she was doing, and the young men at Bletchley who were working
on almost impossible code deciphering. They often had nervous breakdowns because of the strain of
knowing that if they didn’t break the code, ships would be sunk.
What touched me the most in researching this book was that those Bletchley and MI5 workers could
not tell anyone what they did during the war until the 1990s. So many parents died never knowing of
the heroic work of their children, and husbands never knew their wives did anything other than office
drudgery. So sad.

Q: You are also the author of two historical mystery series—the Molly Murphy novels, about a feisty
Irish immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City, and the Royal Spyness mysteries, about a
penniless minor royal in 1930s Britain. The Royal Spyness books poke gentle fun at the British class
system—about which you know a lot, having married into an upperclass family with royal
connections. But you don't just rely on personal experience to create such multi-layered, complex
stories. How do you do the research to write with such a strong sense of time and place about three
distinct eras in the early 1900s?

A: Research is one of my favorite parts of writing historical novels. I start by doing background
reading for a book: I read the senate depositions after the Triangle fire when I was writing a book set in the garment industry. For the Molly Murphy books, I go to New York and walk the streets Molly
walked. Then I have hundreds of photographs of old New York City.
For the Royal Spyness books I have a lot of biographies of the royal family, and I can actually visit
places where I set my stories. My husband comes from an aristocratic family, and I get good ideas
from observing his relatives and staying in their (rather large) homes. I spent one summer in Nice for
one of the books, and this summer I was in Stresa, Italy, for next year’s book. Ah, the hardships of
research!

Q: We have to ask, will your next book take us back to Farleigh Field or are you working on
something that will take us elsewhere?
A: I may revisit these characters some time, as I left many threads unfinished, but the next book will
take us to Tuscany for another WWII novel. More research hardships amid the wineries of Tuscany, I
fear



No comments:

Post a Comment