Sunday, August 20, 2017

"High as the Heavens" by Kate Breslin

Danger. Romance. Second Chances. All are found in abundance in Kate Breslin's latest World War I-set novel, High as the Heavens.

A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a café . . . or so it seems. Eve's most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she's en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?

Sometimes in my reading life, a book that I expect to absolutely devour just doesn't land with me. This happens for multiple reasons, and often, those reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the book or the author's talents. That's what happened here, I think. Kate Breslin is a great writer, and High as the Heavens should've been I book I loved, and I'm guessing that if I'd read it at another time, I would've.

I started reading High as the Heavens in the week leading up to my friend's wedding—and I was a bridesmaid. I didn't have much spare reading time that week, and the next week was the first week of school. Again, not much reading time. So I read High as the Heavens in short bursts of 20-40 minutes. With some books, reading piecemeal like that can work, and I find myself eagerly anticipating my next opportunity to read. With High as the Heavens, though, I just couldn't immerse myself in it, and I never really felt that pull to keep reading.

That said, High as the Heavens does have an interesting plot. I enjoyed seeing how Eve gathered intelligence for the Belgian resistance while working as a Red Cross nurse in a Brussels hospital. I also found the romance between Eve and Simon to be well written and full of surprises, and parts of their story were particularly heart wrenching.

Though not a whole lot happened in the first half of the novel (besides Eve's attempts to keep Simon hidden from the Germans), the second half really sped up. The overarching mystery regarding a double agent in the resistance was interesting, and I thought the novel became even more suspenseful once the agent's identity was revealed to the reader in the last quarter of the book. (There's a fairly obvious red herring, and I did spot the double agent well before his/her identity was revealed.)

Most of the novel is told from Eve's and Simon's perspectives, and this works well. At a few times throughout the novel, the narration shifts to Eve's coworkers Felix and Dom and her sister Zoe. While I understood why Breslin wrote the story as she did, the shift in perspective did make those sections feel like they didn't quite fit.

As I said, High as the Heavens is a book I wanted to love and ended up just liking. Though it's not my favorite of Breslin's books, it's still worth reading, and I do think that many readers will enjoy it much more than I did. 3 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my review of Breslin's Not by Sight (5 stars).

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is the author of For Such a Time and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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