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Under a Sky of Memories Paperback – January 11, 2022
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From the bestselling author of The Last Correspondent comes the powerful story of three brave women who go to war―and end up fighting for their lives.
Sicily, 1943. Three American women, all nurses in the Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, are determined to do all they can for their country. Vita is fun-loving, Dot shy and sweet-natured, and Evelyn practical and determined, but for all their differences, a life of military service pulls the three together as firm friends.
When they’re selected for a daring mission, the women are proud to play their part. But disaster strikes when their plane crash-lands behind enemy lines in occupied Albania. Together with twenty-three other medics, they find themselves trapped, cut off from all communication with the squadron, and in terrifying and unimaginable danger.
As days and nights pass without hope of rescue, the group must travel on foot across unfamiliar terrain thick with Nazis and their violent local allies. Can Evelyn, Vita, and Dot survive the perilous journey through enemy territory―and finally find their way home?
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“Soraya M. Lane brings history to life in ways that take readers into the heart of some of the most frightening, challenging, and inspiring WWII experiences. Unputdownable!” ―Patricia Sands, bestselling author of the Love in Provence series
“Soraya M. Lane has created another cast of engaging, gutsy characters whose stories draw you in immediately…their collective bravery and tenacity leave you cheering them on.” ―Alison Ragsdale, bestselling author of Her Last Chance
About the Author
Soraya M. Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller. Soraya lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons, and a collection of four-legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading. For more information about Soraya and her books, visit www.sorayalane.com or www.facebook.com/SorayaLaneAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @Soraya_Lane.
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (January 11, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 351 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1542031974
- ISBN-13 : 978-1542031974
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 1 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #252,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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I know whenever I see a new book out by Soraya M. Lane, I'm buying it without reading the description. She hasn't let me down yet!
Grab this fabulous story and be prepared to fall in love with this writer.
I enjoyed this book. I hope you enjoy it also.
Top reviews from other countries
Soraya M Lane’s Under A Sky of Memories at first sight looks like a fresh discovery of an unknown territory. Three newly trained US nurses Evelyn, Vita, and Dot, all different characters, and from diverse social backgrounds, are brought together in wartime as part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron to take care of valuable human resources: pilots and aircrew, in North Africa, and Southern Europe. In an experiment they are part of a large contingent of 26 medics and nurses flying to a base in Bari on the Italian heel, only with poor controls and bad weather in deep winter they overshoot their destination, and are shot down by Nazi Ack Ack fire on the other side of the Adriatic in mountainous Albania, a country a few heard existed, much less knew of its unique closed-knit cultural life, history and customs.
The survivors manage to survive because they had to, and have to trust the locals, which at the outset they view as poor, unsophisticated, uneducated brigands with their own rules against the common enemy: the Nazi, and now against the local Albanian collaborators, the BK, who are described as bandits who rob all the Allied drops intended for them. They believe that their new friends, the partisans, surprising all fluent in English, are the sole freedom fighters; they know they are their sole link with their survival, and perhaps a return to civilization through a rumoured SOE agent living somewhere over the mountains.
The story forks off when one dark night the large crowd of Americans is obliged to flee their first safehouse, losing three nurses - two being brutally shot, a third, the quiet, unassuming Dot saved by a strong figure Stefa, and his sister Marti. The rest follow the partisan leader Josef, and eventually they encounter the British agent, Lt James Millard who helps the large group, and later Dot return after two months to Italy by sea. It is during those tiresome times, with little food, that the large group learns the best, and the worst of each individual; how never to give up, and even in emergencies how to shoot to kill. Past, backward-looking Albania becomes our three heroine nurses’ future, each naturally finding their dream prince.
The author has grafted her tale of romance onto the true event of the crash, the lives of the survivors, and the rescue (Jensen Mangerich, 1999; Lineberry 2017) with the difference that in fact there were no deaths among the nurses, but she does not explain why she felt it necessary to rewrite the story for a different and pointless effect.
Albania might have been unknown to many, but from the start of the 20th century with Edith Durham, and later the Albanian speaking and the world leading authority of Albanian folklore, the Scottish born Mrs Margaret Masson Hardie “Fanny” Hasluck, who provided all SOE agents destined for Albania with the basic essentials about the life, history, and society of the country and the Ottoman Balkans, it was known among specialists – something, however, which Lane unfortunately failed to understand, learn about or successfully pass on to unfamiliar readers in her tale.
Albanian mountain life was centred around clans and their leaders, who decided themselves if they stood by the exiled King Zog, the nationalist republicans and land owners, the Ballists, or the Communists, headed by the French educated secondary school teacher Hoxha. She does not even hint that all SOE agents including the real Millward (Capt Garry Duffy, MC - US sources call him Gavan) wanted to get all sides to fight the common enemy, not to fight each other; each at some time equally to blame in cowardly standing down, withdrawing, and collaborating, so for those solely wishing to speak well of the Communist Albanians are those who still are nostalgic towards the red star of Communism. It was neither true that English was well understood; nor that the Communist leaders ever trusted the SOE; they only accepted assistance because they supplied arms, and would turn against British or US OSS agents if they did not comply with their demands (Smiley, 1984; Bailey, 2008).
The author mentions various points which seem historically out of place. First, that an unmentioned US general is said to have closed the circle between Dot and the US escape to freedom, claiming he was able to contact the SOE agent in the field helping to fly over US joined to British aircraft. With very rudiment communication on the ground, and with precise national military rules, it is impossible and hardly likely that an US top ranking officer would have surpassed British procedures even in wartime emergencies. It would have required higher permission from London, which would have taken too long.
Secondly, during her sojourn with Stefa and Mati Dot was said to relax listening to the radio. This sounds a nonsense. If this is possible it signified this brother and sister was living in an undescript country building in an isolated hamlet, containing a large heavy and expensive prewar radio, not the latest domestic additional pastime which might be expected owned by a small local wine grower, unless Lane had in fact forgotten to add it belonged to a very affluent merchant family with mod cons, who might also as property owners have initially sided with the Ballists, and then chosen to switch sides when the partisans became more organized, powerful, and determined.
Next, by focusing on the three main nurses and switching the personal narrative from one to the other, the author seemed regularly to overlook the presence and lives of the ten remaining nurses and 13 medics. Weren’t they relevant?
Perhaps my greatest irritation, however, was the use of postwar English expressions: for instance, would you say “to rustle up some tea?” I might accept: “to make”, “have”, “brew”, or if one used Northern English to “mash” (mass – a variant), but not to rustle up. Tea drinking, one ought to add culturally, in the Balkan world, is not the traditional Anglo-American cups or mugs of milky or “Sergeant Major” chaay, but an Ottoman practice of black tea in small glasses. Strange that a US or someone British will have not spotted the difference.
I wonder why the author finally chose to appear modern to today’s readers by adopting postwar ideas in wartime as the norm: would the birth of child born out of wedlock from a non-Muslim Albanian have been considered acceptable in a proud Albanian family, or in a close-knit community? Equally, would it be thought proper for a good white, unmarried US nurse to return to Washington 6 months pregnant in 1945, then to give birth, and to admit she had not been raped, and the father was still alive? True, she does have the support of her two loyal girl friends who promised to stand by one another, and luckily she eventually finds a man who is willing to marry her and father someone else’s child as his own. One need not be judgmental here; it is simply vital in description even in historical fiction to explain different society norms. I’m sure Vita’s snobbish mother might have had something definite to say.
My final comment - sorry to add comes after the tale, in her note about Albanian Jews. Any mention of Jews preciously? No. Relevance to the escape story? - zilch. Pointless.
Under a Sky of Memories may have been a good idea, with a promising start until the nurses reached Catania; it is crafted strangely, but ends as a too short hurried afterthought. Did Soraya M Lane get too tired with her venture? Bad sign, if she did. In a nutshell, when historical fiction loses a sense of reality it sounds bizarre; she might have better stuck closely to what was familiar.