Now back in print from New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory, Fallen Skies takes readers to post-World War I England in a suspenseful story about the marriage of a wealthy war hero and an aspiring singer he barely knows.
Lily Valance is determined to forget the horrors of the war by throwing herself into the decadent pleasures of the 1920s and pursuing her career as a music hall singer. When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated veteran, she's immediately drawn to his wealth and status. And Stephen, burdened by his guilt over surviving the Flanders battlefields where so many soldiers perished, sees the possibility of forgetting his anguish in Lily, but his family does not approve.
Lily marries Stephen, only to discover that his family's façade of respectability conceals a terrifying combination of repression, jealousy and violence. When Stephen's terrors merge dangerously close with reality, the truth of what took place in the mud and darkness brings him and all who love him to a terrible reckoning.
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Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the D. H. Lawrence quote from Lady Chatterley’s Lover that opens Fallen Skies. How does this epigraph relate to the novel’s title? How have the skies fallen for Stephen and Lily?
2. Stephen is first attracted to Lily because she reminds him of the time before the war. “She looks like there had never been a war” (page 4). He thinks she will help him forget the atrocities he witnessed and committed. Why do you think his marriage to Lily fails to clear his conscience and erase his nightmares? Were his expectations of her unrealistic?
3. “A solitary rebel, [Lily] pretended that the war, which overshadowed her childhood and drained it of joy, did not exist” (page 34). Do you think Lily’s efforts to ignore the war and its aftermath helped her to survive difficult times or failed to prepare her for reality?
4. Coventry and Rory are literally silenced as a result of their wartime experiences. Discuss each man’s muteness and eventual recovery. What do you think helped each man to reclaim his ability to speak?
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Behind the Book
FALLEN SKIES historical background
Historical Background on FALLEN SKIES
By Philippa Gregory
Fallen Skies is set in the period just after the first world war. I did the research for the history of the war by spending time in the Imperial War Museum in London where they had a tremendous reconstruction of the trenches and free access to their archive material. I particularly read accounts of atrocities of the first world war which occurred (as these things inevitably will) wit