That Burning Summer

Lydia Syson
"Full of passion, this wartime coming of age story is about a girl, a boy and a crash-landing"
That Burning Summer – picture

Full of passion, this wartime coming of age story is about a girl, a boy and a crash-landing

Romney Marsh, July 1940. When invasion threatens, you have to grow up quickly. Sixteen-year-old Peggy has been putting on a brave face since the fall of France, but now the enemy is overhead, and the rules are changing all the time. Staying on the right side of the law proves harder than she expects when a plane crash-lands in the Marsh: it’s Peggy who finds its pathetic, broken pilot; a young Polish man, Henryk, who stays hidden in a remote church, secretly cared for by Peggy. As something more blossoms between the two, Peggy’s brother Ernest’s curiosity peaks and other secrets come to light, forcing Peggy and Henryk to question all the loyalties and beliefs they thought they held dear.

In one extraordinary summer the lives of two young people will change forever, in a tense and gripping historical drama from Lydia Syson, the author of the acclaimed A WORLD BETWEEN US.

Publication Date: Thu 3 Oct 2013
ISBN Paperback: 9781471400537
ISBN Ebook: 9781471400544



Lydia Syson

Lydia Syson is a fifth-generation North Londoner who now lives south of the river with her partner and four children. After an early career as a BBC World Service Radio producer, she turned from the spoken to the written word, and developed an enduring obsession with history. Her PhD about poets, explorers and Timbuktu was followed by a biography of Britain's first fertility guru, DOCTOR OF LOVE: JAMES GRAHAM AND HIS CELESTIAL BED, and then two YA novels for Hot Key Books set in the Spanish Civil War (A WORLD BETWEEN US) and World War Two (THAT BURNING SUMMER). LIBERTY'S FIRE is the third of her novels to be inspired, very loosely, by family history: Lydia's anarchist great-great-grandmother moved in Communard circles in late 19th century London. Read more about Lydia and her books at or on Twitter: @lydiasyson


Let me go or I'll scream.' Henryk released her immediately. He was horrified at his own loss of control. This was no way to behave. How could he have done such a thing? Standing there in his filthy flying suit and soaking wet socks, rank with chicken muck and mud and marsh ooze, a burning pain wrenched at one ankle. But he knew what he had to do next. He pulled himself up as straight as he could manage and attempted to click his heels together. It was agony. He clenched his jaw and stepped forward. Taking the girl's pale hand, Henryk bowed low over it, and kissed it very neatly and precisely. French, he thought. She must understand French. 'Enchanté!' he whispered. She pulled her hand away, tucking it away under the other arm as if it had been burned. He could just about see her face now. Her mouth had fallen open, and she was staring at him, completely bewildered. She was the same age as Gizela, more or less, he thought. No, probably a little younger, a little shorter. Less angular. But probably no less spiky, to judge from his bruised shins. The fox barked again, far away now. With a few disapproving clucks and a rustle of feathers, the chickens settled back to roost. What was this girl going to do now? She was staring at him. He felt her stare. Couldn't really see it, but he could feel it. Henryk's thoughts sped away from him again, but he forced himself to concentrate. He tried to anchor himself in England. The Island of Last Hope, they called it. Good afternoon. How do you do? How do you do. But it wasn't the afternoon. And then suddenly he remembered the right words. He whispered them slowly and carefully: 'Hello, old bean. Think I must get weaving. All teased out, I'm afraid.