Out of the Blue
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The jacket of this novel with its modern looking girl and two silhouettes of World War II aircraft represents the content quite confusingly. In her author’s note Val Rutt explains that the tragedy at the heart of the story is based on the killing of 52 members of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade Workshop, Royal and Mechanical Engineers, by a flying bomb on 25 June 1944 which her father survived. Around this sad event, Rutt weaves a fictional love story which is very predictable but also very readable. Kitty Danby falls off her bicycle and is rescued by Sammy Ray Bailey, a young American fighter pilot stationed nearby. Although only 16 she falls deeply in love and they meet regularly, planning a future together, although her uncle strongly disapproves. In flashbacks we learn how Kitty discovers what happened to the letter Sammy left for her after the deaths of so many servicemen by the flying bomb, and of course all ends well. There are some good vignettes of wartime life but a little more depth and a less signposted outcome would have made for a more satisfying novel. There are moments of real sadness and an intimation of why Uncle Geoff is so wary of Sammy in the plight of Gwen and her baby. It would have been good to have known more about what happened to Charlie, her brother, whose life was altered for ever by the tragedy.