She turned to look at the sea. Flat stretch of water, blank and blue as the sky above. Pretty as a picture, except with black and grey craters where the bombs had fallen: as though some thuggish child had scrawled all over the picture out of spite alone…
Jersey, June 1940.
It starts with the burning man on the beach just after the bombs land, obliterating the last shred of hope that Hitler will avert his attention from the Channel Islands. Within weeks, 12,000 German troops land on the Jersey beaches, heralding a new era of occupation.
For ten-year-old Claudine, it means a re-education under German rule, and as she befriends one of the soldiers, she inadvertently opens the gateway to a more sinister influence in her home with devastating consequences.
For Maurice, a local fisherman, it means protecting his sick wife at all costs—even if it endangers his own life.
Edith, the island’s unofficial homeopath, is a Jerriais through to her bones. But even she can’t save everyone, no matter how hard she tries.
And as for English doctor Tim Carter—on the arrival of the brutal German Commandant, he becomes the subject of a terrifying regime that causes the locals to brand him a traitor, unaware of the torment he suffers in an effort to save them.
When the Sky Fell Apart is a heartbreaking chorus of the resilience of the human spirit. It introduces an exciting new voice in literary fiction.
‘The writing is beautiful. The characters’ growing affinities, and the complications those relationships brings with them, make for fascinating reading.’
‘[A] strong debut…A moving and chilling portrait of life under Nazi heel.’
‘Haunting…Through her characters’ struggles, Lea explores the unlikely affinities that arise between humans during violent times and questions how far we might go to protect those we love.’
‘This is a strong and lyrical first novel, that moves adroitly from the obscenity of war to the complexities of marriages, children, loss and loneliness.’
‘Debut author Lea evokes the land with the lyrical fondness of a native… A finely detailed exploration of life during wartime.’
‘An ambitious portrayal of the German occupation of Jersey during the Second World War…Lea’s fondness for Jersey brings the landscape to life with vivid descriptions, which are one of the novel’s highlights. An intriguing depiction of life under nazi occupation, the book explores a time and place rarely covered in fiction. It is an engaging narrative, and Lea should be applauded for a successful portrait of resilience and the strength of friendships during the challenges of wartime.’
‘Prepare for your heart to break…Deserves to be read, not only for the blast of reality from the past, but also as a warning for the future.’
‘When the Sky Fell Apart is exceptional…one of those books that is difficult but nevertheless important.’