V2 by Robert Harris

About the Book

Victory is close. Vengeance is closer.

On the brink of defeat, Hitler commissioned 10,000 V2s – ballistic rockets that carried a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound, which he believed would win the war.

Dr Rudi Graf who, along with his friend Werner von Braun, had once dreamt of sending a rocket to the moon, now finds himself in November 1944 in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland, launching V2s against London. No one understands the volatile, deadly machine better than Graf, but his disillusionment with the war leads to him being investigated for sabotage.

Kay Caton-Walsh, an officer in the WAAF, has experienced first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. When 160 Londoners, mostly women and children, are killed by a single missile, the government decides to send a team of WAAFs to newly-liberated Belgium in the hope of discovering the location of the launch sites. But not all the Germans have left and Kay finds herself in mortal danger.

As the war reaches its desperate end, their twin stories play out, interlocked and separate, until their destinies are finally forced together

What I thought

What a story! I really enjoyed this book. Yet while it is fictional, and the characters are fictional, it is based on fact and incredibly well researched fact at that. For me, I actually found the acknowledgements at the back of the book the most poignant out of everything I read because it is these acknowledgements that made me realise how close this story was to what really happened during the war.

This wouldn’t normally be my choice of reading. It came up on Netgalley and I thought it sounded really good. I’m not normally that keen on books that are set in a backdrop to WW2 but this was a thriller and sounded a little different. I read a book last year that surrounded the women who were in the WAAF (Women’s Auxilliary Air Force) but that was a more romanticised version of events. Very different to this book, but obviously I didn’t realise that until I was well into the pages of this book. Would I have chosen it had I known it was going to be so technical? Probably not, and yet I found the whole story absolutely fascinating.

There is a lot of technical detail in relation to the V2, how it worked, how it was developed, then there was the maths….. but even for a non science person I did find it very interesting. The author has obviously done a lot of research and found it equally interesting to be able to explain it and put it into reasonably understandable layman terms.

The story is told from two different view points. A lot of the book is spent with Graf who, having developed the science behind the V2 is heavily involved in the launches of the bomb attacks, overseeing the last minute checks before they’re deployed. However he becomes ever more disillusioned with it all as his interest originally lay in space travel. It was his friend von Braun who sold the idea to Germany that they could develop a bomb capable of huge destruction but only with an ultimate dream of fulfilling his ambition to develop a space rocket.

The other part of the story involves the British side and the involvement of Kay-Caton Walsh an Officer in the WAAF who was originally tasked with studying photographic reconnaissance to try to locate where the bombs were being launched from, which after proving fruitless hit on the idea of retracing the bombs trajectory path back to where it came from using maths. Like I said before it is quite a technical story but don’t let that put you off, it’s well worth getting your head around because it’s so interesting.

I could go on and on about this book, it’s just so good. It kept me engrossed and the end just makes you think about everything. Not just about World War II but about more recent times, those at the top, so far removed from reality that they still act with stupidity and give no thought to the consequences of their actions for the wider good. Man just never learns!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

♥ Happy Reading ♥

The book is due for publication tomorrow 17 September and is available in hardback and e-book format.

With thanks to the publisher Random House Cornerstone for an advance review copy via Netgalley

6 thoughts on “V2 by Robert Harris

    1. It was something well out of the realms of what I normally read but I was completely engrossed, loved it. I’ve had a look through his other titles, they all sound good, but again after reading reviews probably quite complex.

      Liked by 1 person

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