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The Storms of War by [Williams, Kate]
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The Storms of War Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Length: 521 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Description


a big juicy drama set on the eve of the First World War. TV historian Kate Williams paints a spellbinding portrait of a family clinging on desperately to their privileged way of life (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)

A beautifully conjured family saga. Fans of DOWNTON ABBEY will love it (Alison Weir)

Brilliant - a passionate and poignant story of a glittering family on the precipice of a vanished world. Spellbinding, gripping and beautiful - a must read . . . the new CAZALET CHRONICLES (Lisa Hilton)

[An] all-encompassing, sweeping epic. It's a book to get immersed in for hours at a time . . . powerful . . . a wonderful achievement (Katherine Webb)

A wonderful evocation of a family torn apart by war, packed with drama and written with a sensitive warmth and fantastic historical insight (Imogen Robertson)

Celia de Witt is the 15 year old daughter of a German born industrialist and his aristocratic wife who live in a magnificent country house; her elder sister is about to have a grand society wedding. What could go wrong? The First World War, that's what ... shades of Downton, with a dash of Atonement (TATLER)

This is the first part in a trilogy set against the the First World War that delves into the complexities of loyalty and survival as life in the de Witt family is ineradicably changed. (WOMAN & HOME)

The new novel by the historian Kate Williams, is an epic story about a young woman whose idyllic world is shattered by the First World War, (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH STELLA Magazine)

Williams is too good a historian for melodramatic sentimentality; trusting the historical detail, the reader can relax into a well-paced, truly affecting narrative . . . Richly detailed, light of foot, Williams tantalises with loose ends and disturbs with shocking shadows (INDEPENDENT)

This terrific saga comes with a fascinating twist ... Williams has a gift for showing how great movements in history affect the lives of people caught up in them (Kate Saunders THE TIMES)

Williams keeps her story moving and the result is a vivid portrait of a perennially fascinating period of history. (Stephanie Merritt THE OBSERVER)

Wartime-saga lovers will be kept on their toes to the end. (DAILY MAIL)

Historian Kate Williams's epic about the First World War starts in the idyllic country mansion of the wealthy de Witt family ... [she] outlines the tragedy of war but also reveals .. how this first modern conflict changed British society beyond recognition. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Kate Williams in a vivid writer, conjuring atmosphere through scents and tastes as well as period props. The enjoyable elements of a sweeping family saga are present, but Williams also develops a sense of the emotional and psychological revolutions, both collective and individual, that were catalysed by the conflict (Lisa Hilton TLS)

This book has more firepower than DOWNTON . . . Powerful storytelling. (Alex Gordon PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH)

Deeply researched and intelligently written, 'The Storms of War' brings Edwardian England to life - life overshadowed by the war that is recreated here in vivid and visceral fashion. Historical fiction that mostly manages to be both cerebral and educational without feeling dull. (THE BOOKBAG)

'As spellbinding as Ken Follett's Fall of Giants'


Book Description

The first novel in Kate Williams' groundbreaking new historical series which begins in the First World War. For fans of BIRDSONG and DOWNTON ABBEY.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3494 KB
  • Print Length: 521 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (3 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IPIL526
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,084 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Set in the times leading up to the Great War, in this centenary year of 2014.
My own personal aim in reading this book was to gain insight into the social history, the effects on ordinary people facing the unknown.
Although fiction, the settings and characters are based in the reality of those times.
I am always full of admiration for the authors who so meticulously research the history and accounts.
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is nicely written but it covers exactly the same ground as hundreds of other WW1 family sagas: the big house on the eve of war, the bourgeois family with one 'good' daughter and one rebel, the effete army officer son, the salt-of-the-earth working class lad and so on. Every scene comes fully-formed from other fictions: the trenches, the hospitals, the French brothels.

There are ways to do something different with WW1 - Pat Barker has just done exactly that with her recent trilogy. This is all very well-meaning and heartfelt but it only really works if you're relatively unfamiliar with WW1 fiction and history.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To read a novel set during the First World War can be risky. The dangers are: stereotypes and clichés, research that is so obtrusive that it bludgeons the reader, and howlers. But when the novel is written by a historian, the reader ought to be in safe hands.

The book opens very well: a soldier in a trench shaking with fear, unable to move. The rest of the story is told in flashback until the epilogue, where we find out what happened to the terrified soldier.

It was an original idea to have a German as one of the main characters. He, the father of the family, is a businessman (the business is a little infra dig), who has married an English aristocrat. There is the obligatory rebellious heroine of undistinguished appearance, her older sister, conservative and fairly unpleasant, a brother who is a bit of a square peg in a round hole (later, we discover why), and a mysterious older brother who is in France.

The big problem is that there is too much crammed into the narrative. The Western Front, Conscientious Objectors, food shortages and the servant problem at home, internment of aliens, espionage, shell shock, homosexuality (in a dugout) and the suggestion of incest.

Another novel which covers the same era is Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Beautiful Visit (1950), and compared with it, this is thin, despite all the detail. It’s as if the author is so eager to impart her knowledge that she can’t bear to leave anything out. It would have been better to be more selective.

However, it kept me reading to the end, and I think it will probably do very well.
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Format: Hardcover
Kate Williams’ The Storms of War is set during the Great War in England and France and the detailed descriptions of the various settings help you to envision what the war must have been like. While Williams paints a clear picture of the gruesome wartime at the Western Front in France, she doesn’t forget to also write about the state of her settings before and after the war. One of these places is Stoneythorpe Hall, the home of the de Witt family, and I really enjoyed reading about how it changed during the war.

In my opinion, this novel is the coming-of-age story of Celia de Witt, our main character. She is the youngest of the de Witt children and after the war breaks out she has to grow up very fast. Child-like, dreamy and naive Celia soon adapts to the harsh reality of the wartime and turns into a practical young woman. Only later in the book, she somehow seems to be out of character for a short while. I could write a lot about the other characters. They all seem to have their own story to tell which isn’t surprising, as this is the first book in a trilogy.

When I saw the cover of The Storms of War, I expected light historical/romantic fiction. What I didn’t expect is a novel that is filled with blood and causes so much pain. I was glad it turned out that way. The Storms of War is a well-researched book that I’d recommend to everyone who can stomach a hefty dose of war and its consequences on people’s lives.
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Format: Paperback
Personally this book just didn't do it for me. I found it so slow and I couldn't relate to the characters, finding them rather two dimensional. I chose the book because I am fascinated with the time period - the book is set during WW1. But I just couldn't get into it and did something which I hardly ever do- gave up after reading half. Perhaps my opinion would be different if I had read until the end but unfortunately the pace was too slow for me
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It s August 1914, storm clouds are brewing over Europe, but life for the de Witt family is carrying on as normal. However, they are slightly uneasy. Head of the household Rudolf de Witt is German and his children are half German, their business dependant on factories in Berlin. Surely hostilities in Europe won't affect them.

The story moves between the grandeur of Stoneythorpe Hall and the hell of the trenches of Flanders following the effect that World War One has on the entire de Witt family. Excellent description by the author throws the reader wholeheartedly into the horror of war.

This is the perfect book for fans of Elizabeth Jane Howard and equals the quality and enjoyment of her renown Cazalet chronicles. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to catching up with the lives of the de Witt family the second of this trilogy
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