3 out of 4 stars
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Ken Jacobie in the R.A.F. by Mari Kaye is a historical fiction novel that follows Ken Jacobie, a smart, industrious Englishman from Yorkshire, England. Just before the commencement of World War II in 1939, Ken Jacobie brilliantly convinces his friend, Maggie, of getting married before he joins the British Royal Air Force to not only avoid being drafted into the British Army but also secure several financial and living benefits.
Nevertheless, the war would catch up with him when his pronounced engineering and leadership skills saw him promoted to "sergeant," and he was tasked with leading the Second Tactical Air-Force Number One Mobile Repair Unit (2TAF/1MRU) in repairing damaged aircraft, which saw him and his crew deployed close to the warzone in Normandy, France. There, he would live through several adventures involving transporting prisoners and uncovering secrets within the French resistance.
The story is told from the third-person perspective and shifts the focus to Maggie Jacobie on a few occasions as she struggles to come to terms with realizing that her marriage is just a means to an end for her husband that she dearly loves. While I loved Ken's outgoing, driven personality and rooted for his success throughout his adventures, his mistreatment of Maggie was one thing that I did not appreciate. The author has done a wonderful job of incorporating true-life events in the story from World War II and exploring how these events affect the characters. Mari Kaye expertly uses incredibly intricate imagery in helping readers understand what it was like in that period, both for the people that went off to war and the people that had to stay home without hearing from their loved ones for long periods.
The way the author wrote in detail about serving in the British Royal Air Force, protocols, and even the terminologies used demonstrated that she had a close experience in this field, which was further highlighted by the inclusion of relevant personal pictures that brought life to some parts of the story. Furthermore, the tale is laced with humorous, witty dialogue between the airmen and even the Marquis resistance fighters that comprised a diverse and intriguing set of supporting characters who helped drive the story. Some of my favorite parts of the novel revolved around solving the mystery behind the death of a resistance leader and the relationships that were formed around that time in the story.
Having found about eight errors that weren't too distracting while reading, I believe that the novel was professionally edited, even though there were a few uncounted errors in the dialogue as well. I did have a few unanswered questions regarding the relationships between some of the characters, however, especially concerning Ken and Maggie. This was what I disliked the most about the book. The book will have a sequel that follows the main character's life from where this one ended, so I hope to get those answers there.
All things considered, I rate Ken Jacobie in the R.A.F. three out of four stars. The errors and unanswered questions influenced my final rating, but the book was a thrilling experience that highlighted some important lessons on good relationships and accepting people for who they are. If you enjoy historical fiction novels, this book is for you.
Ken Jacobie in the R.A.F.
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