Heronfield


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
492 Pages
Reviewed on 01/31/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born in England in 1957 Dorinda Balchin graduated from Warwick University in 1980 and began a career in teaching. Books and writing have always been a passion for her, but with two children to raise and a demanding career in the field of education Dorinda’s love of literature was mainly confined to reading with little time to explore and develop her writing.

In 2007 Dorinda and her husband took a holiday in India where they spent a week at a guesthouse in the most beautiful of settings beside a lake, at the foot of the western ghat mountains in Tamil Nadu. Both Dorinda and Peter suffered a ‘mid-life crisis’ moment which found them, a year later, living in India and the owners of their dream property.

This change of lifestyle allowed Dorinda the time to develop some of the writing projects which she has worked on over the years, resulting in the publication of ‘Heronfield‘ at the end of 2012 and ‘The Guardians’ in 2014. In 2015 Dorinda and her husband returned to England to be closer to family.

Dorinda has a passion for fencing and horse-riding as well as archery, which gives the impression that she was born into the wrong century! When not participating in her favourite sports, or drawing and painting, Dorinda loves nothing more than losing herself in a good book.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

Heronfield by Dorinda Balchin is a six-year saga set in England during World War II. It is a fantastic story that put me on the battlefield and into the lives of brothers Tony and David, their friends, family and loved ones. Heronfield is the home of the two brothers, but is now being used as a convalescent hospital for those injured fighting the Germans. Sarah is a young woman who is volunteering at Heronfield, nursing the soldiers back to health. David joins up and becomes a fighter pilot, making his father, Sir Michael, very proud. Tony becomes a secret agent, parachuting into enemy territory, setting up a resistance group, and working to destroy the strategic spots without getting caught - but he is unable to tell his family what he is really doing. Sir Michael thinks he is a coward and not willing to fight for his country. The story took me into many of the battles and to the horrors in the concentration camp that the prisoners had to endure on a daily basis. Heronfield also shared with me the happy times of falling in love and seeing friends caring for and helping each other through very tough times.

What a wonderful book this is. Dorinda Balchin wrote four hundred and ninety pages of an excellent story. It took me longer than I expected to read it, but each page made me cry, cheer, smile, and anxiously await D-Day and the end of the war. Heronfield is a fictional story with accurate historical events that made for a superb book. I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially if you enjoy family sagas and World War II history because it combines these elements in an incredibly good read.

Rachel Malone (Historical

The Kemshall family home, Heronfield, has been turned into a convalescent hospital during World War II. Tony’s brother, David, a hero to all in his family, is a Spitfire pilot and decorated as one of the men involved in the Battle of Britain. Tony, a survivor of Dunkirk, finds himself facing several battles: fighting a father who believes him a coward, fighting for the love of the woman of his dreams and fighting to keep the biggest secret from them all because Tony is a British spy, working in occupied France.
Heronfield is a hefty tome; a large paperback over 400 pages long, an indication of the amount of story here. The course of six years is spanned, from the beaches at Dunkirk to the liberation of the concentration camps. Many of the chapters have beginnings that are akin to the Pathé News segments, telling what is happening in other areas of the world before returning to the main action in either Heronfield or St Nazaire – a brilliant way of giving the reader all the information required.
The characters are incredibly realistic; it is difficult to set Heronfield down. It would not be possible to write a story about the bravery of the soldiers or the Resistance without making sure that the reader is aware of just why they were so brave, and this is put across tactfully, but still gives the reader an idea of the horrors faced by these people.
An amazing read.

Tom Billington

Very good read couldn’t put it down.

Sarah

Another book I downloaded to my Kindle while listed as free, and while I very rarely give 5 star reviews this almost managed it! Set during WWII Heronfield is set in a stately home that is commandeered for the war effort. I'd almost class this as an epic saga, we cover the whole of WWII with the characters but without ever feeling like it's dragging.
I found Tony's central story line pretty gripping and was really annoyed when the other characters interrupted, then almost couldn't bear to leave them to get back to Tony!
I love my books to be character driven and this ticks the box, however there is a huge amount of historical fact woven in to the novel, the author explains this in the preface and it's worked into the fictional story line quite well. Some of the historical info is less necessary to the plot but it does give an idea of the scale of the conflict and is interesting.
There was nothing really wrong with the story but I'm not a huge fan of massive literary coincidences and two of the male characters run into each other towards the end rather conveniently. I'll say no more as I don't want to give anything away but the world is a big place so it lost half a star for that.
This is a self published novel so don't expect perfection, having said that though it has been written to a very high standard and I would highly recommend even the paid version as you get a lot of book for your buck. I believe that the author's website states the book is being given a professional edit and I think it will benefit a little from the final polish.
If you want action, adventure, romance, and history all rolled in to one absorbing read give this a go.

P J Preston

From start to finish of this long novel, I journeyed with the characters and their linked stories. There's a lovely authentic atmosphere, and, although I'm certainly no expert, I didn't spot any anachronisms. With some 'suspension of disbelief' when characters meet again it's possible to go along with the plot.

Kindle customer (Amazon)

Having read a number of books set in the war, I started to read this book with a certain amount of trepidation - too often authors are not able to convey the real sense of what it must have been like to be in that situation. "Heronfield" was a most 'pleasant' surprise (I use the word 'pleasant' in quotation marks as I have to admit that some of the descriptions were unpleasantly graphic - but even this added to the feeling of reality and authenticity) in that it was obvious that the author had not only spent a great deal of time researching her subject, but had complete immersed herself in it. From the descriptions of pre-war life in the big house, to the description of life in an interment camp, the whole novel had a feeling of authenticity and was able to indicate to me what it must have been like to have been alive during that whole dreadful period - not just a serving member of the forces, but also the civilians living (or existing) back at home and how they coped.

Ms Balchin is a relatively new author, however, her style of writing reminds me very much of the style of Nevil Shute - an author I have gone back to time after time. I suspect that Ms Balchin will have a similar effect.

C Pankhurst

Heronfield combines a real feel for the period in which it is set, with a compelling pace and structure which make it a pleasure to read. The characters and their lives are convincingly drawn, and the dialogue has an authentic ring. The range of characters, with their different lives and perspectives is impressive. Several strands are developed, with the central plot growing interestingly and gripping the attention. A thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read.

P J Sowler

What a fantastic read. Just the sort of story I like. Set in WW2 it not only gives plenty of facts but a great story too with the right balance between the two. More please.

A S

I was given a copy of Heronfield as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know much about the Second World War but found that I learned a lot from this story through the experiences of the characters. I liked the short linking passages which showed how this story fitted into the world situation at the time but without any loss of pace.
I was impressed with the way the author carefully created her characters so that they could each portray one aspect of the war – fighter pilot, nurse, secret agent, the French Resistance, the Americans in Britain, the concentration camps – yet their lives were all carefully linked and interwoven in a very uncontrived way. The main storyline was very ‘real’ in the way it showed how duty and misunderstanding must cause problems in war time situations. I found myself really rooting for the two main characters and it was hard to put the book down!
All in all, a very enjoyable read which I would thoroughly recommend.

Mac

A great book. Unlike the previous reviewer I have a fairly good knowledge of the Second World War and I was impressed with the accuracy of this novel. The dates and details of the main events are historically accurate yet brought to life by a cast of believable characters and so never a ‘dull history book’; the events of the bombing of Coventry for example were really gripping and I could not put the book down until I had read to the end of the section to find out what happened to the characters.
The structure of the book is impressive and keeps you reading by the art of telling one persons story then leaving you at a cliff-hanger while it goes back to another character to tell the story of what is happening to them at the same time, then you get left with another cliff hanger! I enjoyed the way that the stories all intertwined so that you could see the effect of one person’s experiences on the others.
In summary, I found this a well researched novel which was character driven whilst giving a good overview of the war. It has interest, pace and excitement and is well worth the read.