The Clouds Above

Written by Andrew Greig
Review by Trudi E. Jacobson

This extremely affecting novel follows Len, an RAF Sergeant pilot, his friend Tad, a Polish pilot serving in the RAF, Stella, a WAAF radio operator, and Stella’s friend, Maddy, during the course of the summer and early fall of 1940. Sections are alternately narrated by Len and Stella, which brings the time of the Battle of Britain to us with great immediacy. The realization that one has to throw oneself into living fully despite the uncertainty, fear and worry of the times, permeates the lives of Len and Stella and their friends. With this comes the realization that life will never return to what it was. Stella is haunted by an imagined Fräulein, her counterpart on the German side. The characters struggle with thoughts of the destruction, the killing on each side, but slowly conclude that it has to be.

Len’s narration gives a vivid glimpse into the lives of fighter pilots, both their feelings in the air, and the camaraderie that exists between them, often for too short a time, on the ground. Like Nevil Shute’s Pastoral, this book lets us celebrate the little joys in the midst of such a difficult period.