Year 8 and 9 girls at Sydenham School caught a glimpse of wartime life in Kent when author Lydia Syson held a workshop at the school on her latest book This Burning Summer.
They were treated by Lydia Syson to certain key biographical details that were crucial in first sparking her curiosity. These included the stories her grandmother told her of the real fear of invasion back in the idyllically hot summer of 1940, and recent holidays spent with her own family on the Kent coast where memorials to pilots killed in the fighting in the skies over Romney Marsh are a poignant reminder of the courage and sacrifice that characterised the Battle of Britain.
“It was great being able to share so many of the details and places that had triggered my own imagination in such a vivid and dramatic way, and I hope it will encourage the girls to see the history and stories that are all around us, all the time,” said Lydia Syson. “I was very struck by the sophistication of the discussion.
“The girls’ nuanced understanding of the characters' complex motivations was impressive, and they quizzed me on interesting questions about historical accuracy and narrative, and whether the story had to fit the facts or the other way round.”
She added: “They seemed to have particularly enjoyed the slow-burn romance featured in the book between a 16-year-old and a young Polish pilot.”