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In The Shadow of the Gathering Storm: A Scottish historical fiction novel

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Set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Erl Wilkie’s ‘IN THE SHADOW OF THE GATHERING STORM’ is a work of Scottish historical fiction. Johann Schettler, a petty officer in the German Navy, is imprisoned for his part in the mutiny of sailors who refuse to fight for a lost cause after the end of World War One. Revolution follows, with the sailors and workers of Set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Erl Wilkie’s ‘IN THE SHADOW OF THE GATHERING STORM’ is a work of Scottish historical fiction. Johann Schettler, a petty officer in the German Navy, is imprisoned for his part in the mutiny of sailors who refuse to fight for a lost cause after the end of World War One. Revolution follows, with the sailors and workers of Kiel rising up against the ruling class. Schettler is sent with the interned German fleet to Scapa Flow, suffering hardship and turmoil before escaping to Glasgow to reunite with his Scottish mother’s family. Here too, there is political unrest, and his Scottish family become involved in the fight for workers’ rights, attracting the attention of the security services who aren’t too fussy about the methods they use to curtail and spy on those they see as communist sympathisers. In the midst of the Battle of George Square, Schettler meets the fiery, dynamic Kate A’Herne, a friend of his cousin, and the attraction is immediate. Kate, who played an active part in the 1916 Easter Rising, is as determined as Schettler to fight for socialism and to reject the shackles of those who led so many to their deaths in the First World War. Intrigue, adventure, love and loyalty – all are up for grabs in this gripping work of Scottish historical fiction that will grab your attention from the outset. Just as the author Len Deighton did in ‘Winter, the book explores German politics in the post-World War One era but also covers four significant historical events, the German Revolution 1918 to 23, the internment of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, the battle of George Square (part of Red Clydeside), and the struggle for Irish Independence. The book will also appeal to fans of Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, covering as it does the psychology of reluctant sailors and those dragged into a deadly and bloody conflict not of their making, and readers who enjoy Scottish historical fiction.


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Set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Erl Wilkie’s ‘IN THE SHADOW OF THE GATHERING STORM’ is a work of Scottish historical fiction. Johann Schettler, a petty officer in the German Navy, is imprisoned for his part in the mutiny of sailors who refuse to fight for a lost cause after the end of World War One. Revolution follows, with the sailors and workers of Set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Erl Wilkie’s ‘IN THE SHADOW OF THE GATHERING STORM’ is a work of Scottish historical fiction. Johann Schettler, a petty officer in the German Navy, is imprisoned for his part in the mutiny of sailors who refuse to fight for a lost cause after the end of World War One. Revolution follows, with the sailors and workers of Kiel rising up against the ruling class. Schettler is sent with the interned German fleet to Scapa Flow, suffering hardship and turmoil before escaping to Glasgow to reunite with his Scottish mother’s family. Here too, there is political unrest, and his Scottish family become involved in the fight for workers’ rights, attracting the attention of the security services who aren’t too fussy about the methods they use to curtail and spy on those they see as communist sympathisers. In the midst of the Battle of George Square, Schettler meets the fiery, dynamic Kate A’Herne, a friend of his cousin, and the attraction is immediate. Kate, who played an active part in the 1916 Easter Rising, is as determined as Schettler to fight for socialism and to reject the shackles of those who led so many to their deaths in the First World War. Intrigue, adventure, love and loyalty – all are up for grabs in this gripping work of Scottish historical fiction that will grab your attention from the outset. Just as the author Len Deighton did in ‘Winter, the book explores German politics in the post-World War One era but also covers four significant historical events, the German Revolution 1918 to 23, the internment of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, the battle of George Square (part of Red Clydeside), and the struggle for Irish Independence. The book will also appeal to fans of Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, covering as it does the psychology of reluctant sailors and those dragged into a deadly and bloody conflict not of their making, and readers who enjoy Scottish historical fiction.

21 review for In The Shadow of the Gathering Storm: A Scottish historical fiction novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

    I'm not a great reader of historical fiction, but someone I knew suggested I give Erl Wilkie's In the Shadow of the Gathering Storm a try. The central character in the story is Johann Schettler, a German with a Scottish mother, who therefore has unusually good language skills. Starting in the German navy at the end of World War I, Schettler finds himself engulfed in no fewer than three separate periods of social unrest: the post-war Spartacist movement (via the German navy's demise and its impri I'm not a great reader of historical fiction, but someone I knew suggested I give Erl Wilkie's In the Shadow of the Gathering Storm a try. The central character in the story is Johann Schettler, a German with a Scottish mother, who therefore has unusually good language skills. Starting in the German navy at the end of World War I, Schettler finds himself engulfed in no fewer than three separate periods of social unrest: the post-war Spartacist movement (via the German navy's demise and its imprisonment at Scapa Flow); Red Clydeside; and the Irish war of independence after 1916. Presumably after that the authorities wised up and refused to let Schettler in before he could do any dam In many ways this is three separate novellas, and Wilkie does actually split the book that way, so if the reader wanted he or she could read each one, put the book down, then come back later. But I did want to read the book through, even although I felt that Schettler was a little too intense for my taste. By a distance, the book's best character is Kate A'Hearne, who simply lights up the later parts of In the Shadow. If I had a criticism of the book, it woud be that there's not enough of her. It's also only really "a Scottish historical fiction novel" insofar as it's written by a Scot and the middle (and shortest, I think) part is set in Glasgow. But I'd suggest you give this a shot. By the standards of historical fiction this is reasonably short and concise, and I suspect that the first section will particularly interest readers, given that there's plenty elsewhere on offer set in the other two eras.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Muiranne

    This has been a great choice and a very exciting read. I like books that have a base in history and this certainly has that and a lot more. The story itself is well crafted and pacy and it's characters are well rounded and believable. I was especially taken with the strong, feisty, female characters and the pivotal roles they played, especially at this time ...one hundred years on! This has been a great choice and a very exciting read. I like books that have a base in history and this certainly has that and a lot more. The story itself is well crafted and pacy and it's characters are well rounded and believable. I was especially taken with the strong, feisty, female characters and the pivotal roles they played, especially at this time ...one hundred years on!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kiki59

    Gripping story set in Scotland at a pivotal time for European political thought and one not significantly publicised in Scottish history. Chapters canter along at a great pace with just the right balance of twisting plot woven historical fact and explanation and relatable characters. Best book this year!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clark

  5. 4 out of 5

    moira coll

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marie Laure

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erl Wilkie

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Byron

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Wachter

  11. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

  12. 4 out of 5

    June

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nanette

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Patinkin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kenny Sharkey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  17. 4 out of 5

    annie adams

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hamilton Clarke

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lee-ann Reilly

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Dacso

  21. 5 out of 5

    Harriette C

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