American Bombshell by David King | Book Reviews | Historical Fiction
American Bombshell by David King

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

American Bombshell by David King

American Bombshell by David King is published with Poolbeg Press. Inspired by a true story, it is described as ‘a tale of love, risk and coming of age during the final convulsions of World War Two’.

Over on LinkedIn David King has posted some incredible snippets and insights regarding American Bombshell and about his mother, Beryl, whose life-story inspired his words. “American Bombshell is an attempt to tell the story of one ‘GI Bride’ and her experiences during that extraordinary wartime year… of 1944. It is a fictionalised account of her life. Getting it published seems like a dream and I can’t quite believe it’s really happening…..!”

David King is clear to point out that Rosie Haskell, his main character in American Bombshell, is not Beryl but her circumstances were inspired by his mother’s story. Beryl was a GI bride who did follow her husband to the USA on the Queen Mary, only to find on arrival that he had a wife. While there she lived a tumultuous existence that greatly impacted David and how he lived and still lives his life. Writing American Bombshell helped David King to ‘reclaim control of a story in which his mother was lost and he was left untethered’.

Rosie Haskell arrived back home in 1944 after a lonely and hard time spent in an orphanage. Following the death of her father, Rosie’s mother, unstable at the best of times, was incapable of looking after Rosie. She was spiteful and hateful toward her own flesh and blood, sending her daughter away where she wouldn’t have to look at her. Now, at seventeen and with a war raging, Rosie moves back in with her mother. She gets work in a local factory and starts to see the world a little differently. Rosie is naïve, living quite a sheltered existence but her eyes are quickly opened while working alongside a very strong crew of women in the factory.

Rosie attracts the eye of Hazel, one of the women working in the factory. Rosie is thrilled to have a female friend, someone she can confide in, but Rosie’s inexperience means that she is initially unaware that Hazel is looking for more than friendship. With an American GI base nearby, many of the women hope to turn the eye of one of the pilots and perhaps get an opportunity to live a different life in America. Rosie has no such expectations and no experience but she does catch the attention of Eugene, a handsome and brave pilot, who brings a touch of Hollywood into her life. Rosie is careful in his presence, aware of the possible dangers of being seduced and left behind, but she can’t help herself having feelings for Eugene.

Eugene has an aura of confidence about him that instils courage in others around him but Eugene is hiding a secret. Underneath all his bravado, Eugene is struggling to stay afloat. He has witnessed so much death and destruction and it’s finally taking its toll. He likes Rosie but there is a shadow that seems to follow him around and Rosie senses that something is up.

As Hazel reveals a little more of herself, Rosie is caught up in an unexpected love triangle, unsure of her own feelings. With the world in turmoil, relationships are vulnerable. Rosie’s childhood and teenage years were tough and left her with a yearning for a safe future and a home of her own. With Eugene’s safety threatened daily, as he takes to the skies for more and more daring missions, her own safety and that of everyone she loves, including Hazel, comes under a darkened cloud. The war rages on and the invasion of Britain begins putting fear and dread into the thoughts and minds of everyone.

Rosie has to make decisions, conscious that her future lies in the balance. She is young, with a world of possibilities in front of her, yet also too all aware of the perilous times that they are living in. Will she go with her heart or her mind? Can she make this most difficult of choices? What will the future hold for Rosie Haskell?

American Bombshell was not quite what I had expected and I mean that as a compliment. David King takes the reader on a very credible journey, creating a fascinating story combining fact and fiction. There are many scenes in American Bombshell that are heart-wrenching, in particular the descriptions about the missions that Eugene and his fellow pilots found themselves on. In a recent excellent piece in The Irish Mail on Sunday David King wrote “while containing a few episodes of bloody violence, from exploding V1 cruise missiles to death-filled American bombing raids over Germany, it’s chiefly a story of survival and the search for love against the odds: an upbeat tale of strength of character and luck beating ill-fortune, prejudice and perhaps fate itself.”

American Bombshell is a compelling and engaging novel, a very immersive experience. It is also a testament to the bravery of David King, putting his story out there for the world to see. The attention to detail, the description, the unbearable pain and grief are all depicted with such authenticity, creating a very vivid and affecting image of this period of history. David King deliberately chose not to gloss over the violence of war but he also decided not to dwell too much on it. He gets the balance right I think and in doing so creates an evocative coming-of-age tale.

American Bombshell by David King“The book is not just a story based on my mother’s life. It’s also an attempt, some years after her death, to achieve at least in my own mind an understanding, perhaps even a reconciliation with her adventurous early life and later descent into something perilously close to madness. It may even be a semi-conscious attempt to bring something positive out of the wreckage of broken marriages, lost friends and wounded minds. It definitely is an attempt to find personal peace.”
– David King, The Irish Mail on Sunday

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get all of the latest from delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured books