To try to put yourself in the midst of events occurring less than 100 years ago is hard, Mark's book effortlessly slides you into a terrifying world where death and loss are foisted upon people. Without time to prepare, they deal with it and bear suffering us modern-world softened people can only imagine.
As a proud son of Nottingham I'm well aware of Albert Ball, but this intricately researched story along with insightful and imaginative filling in of the details leaves you feeling like you knew him, his family and - of course - his sweetheart. The story is charming, harrowing, horrifying and ultimately haunting.
What makes this book particularly brilliant is the evokative way in which it is able to place you at the scene, in the cockpit, in the trenches, digging for victory in Blighty - all without labouring the details. It gives you enough to let your imagination colour an often bleak surrounding.
I think there is great value in people understanding better what our forebears went through in order to secure and protect our freedom, and that our our Allies - without being at all preachy this is the best example of this I've found.
Albert Ball's dad, Albert Ball Snr, moved heaven and Earth to ensure his son was remembered in Nottingham in statue form, and in France where he died and was buried. This memorial pays great tribute to that laudable aim, too.