When Skies Have Fallen
My review -
Although this book was published two years ago, I found myself reading it at the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, which began the process of decriminalising and equalising gay relationships in Britain. Arty is a member of the RAF ground crew and he embarks on a relationship with Jim, an American airman. Because of the fear of arrest, they manage to convince everyone that Jim is in a relationship with Arty’s dance partner, Jean. We’re taken through their lives after the war, right up till the Act of Parliament, at which point Arty writes to inform his parents of who their son really is.
It’s difficult to imagine the fear hanging over people early in my lifetime, who simply wanted to spend their life with the person they loved. Not merely society celebrities, like Oscar Wilde, but ordinary men and women like us, were imprisoned unless they admitted to an illness and accepted some quite barbaric treatment. I find you can know this on an intellectual level but until you read even a fictionalised account, you can’t imagine the terror of the knock on the door at night. As always, Debbie McGowan’s characters are written with a sure hand and become totally believable. This is a real food-for-thought book, as well as a darned good tale of enduring love. Highly recommended.