The D-day landings - the fate of 2.5 million men, 3000 landing craft and the entire future of Europe depends on the right weather conditions on the English Channel on a single day.
A team of Allied scientists is charged with agreeing on an accurate forecast five days in advance.
But is it even possible to predict the weather so far ahead? And what is the relationship between predictability and turbulence, one of the last great mysteries of modern physics?
Wallace Ryman has devised a system that comprehends all of this - but he is a reclusive pacifist who stubbornly refuses to divulge his secrets.
Henry Meadows, a young maths prodigy from the Met Office, is sent to Scotland to discover Ryman's system and apply it to the Normandy landings.
But turbulence proves more elusive than anyone could have imagined and events, like the weather, begin to spiral out of control.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 368 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 04/06/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571205226
Showing 1 - 5 of 7 reviews.
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Review by finebalance
At first appearance, Giles Foden appears to have moved far away from the territory of his previous novels with Turbulence. After the African influence of The Last King of Scotland, Ladysmith and Zanzibar, Foden’s latest novel charts the course of meteorologist and mathematician Henry Meadows as he tries to discover the secrets of a system that will help Allied Scientists accurately forecast weather up to five days ahead, and which will help decide the success of the D-day landings. Meadows search takes him to Scotland and Normandy, but Foden has again framed Meadows wider life in an African context, with flashbacks to Meadows’ early childhood in Africa, and his mysterious disappearance off Dar es Salaam nearly 40 years after D-Day. Like Dr. Nicholas Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland, Meadows is also a rather dislikable character, a young man whose self-centred actions causing unwitting harm to others. It is a measure of the power of Foden’s writing that even with a narrator to whom I did not warm, and a story whose overall outcome I knew, I found myself hooked. Foden is skilled in his use of language creating a turbulent play with words that echoes the weather phenomen he describes. Turbulence confirms Foden’s accomplishment as a writer albeit that I think it would have been every bit as powerful without the modern day framing. Despite LT's predictions, I didn't love this book, but I did find that it had me hooked while reading.
Review by aidanbyrne
I requested this book through LT early reviewers having heard that Foden is good, but without reading any. I was impressed - but I did feel that I was being lectured, as though Foden feels it's his duty to bridge C P Snow's 'Two Cultures' personally. That said, the only thing I really objected to was the multiple flashback framing - the bare bones of the meterological struggle for D-Day would have been compelling enough. The narrator is sufficiently unreliable for a work of modern literary fiction, and the occult fascination of turbulence drives the plot and the novel's structure brilliantly.
Review by Brooni
This is one of those books that don't grab you by it's cover or title. You would have had to have wanted to read something more from Giles Foden after his "Last King of Scotland" or, been interested in meteorology during the second world war.If I hadn't received this book through Early Reviewers I would not have bought it and therefore not have read it. Am I glad that I did read it? Well, I wouldn't put in my all time list of books that I have read, but in the end I quite enjoyed it.The narrator of the book is a young mathematician - Henry Meadows, who recalls how he is sent to Scotland by the Meteorological Office to try and persuade him to reveal the secrets of "Turbulence" from a pacifist scientist Wallace Ryman. Just as Meadows gets to know Ryman an unfortunate accident puts paid to their blossoming relationship and Meadows returns back to England to help to forecast the weather for the D-Day landings without getting the information he wanted. He eventually provides some sort of forecast and the rest, as they say, "is history".Some of the characters of the book are either real or based on real people and I didn't think this really worked. Certainly, Meadows is not a person who I would have sent to try and persuade an awkward and difficult man to give up his theory on Turbulence. He lacks the social skills and confidence to charm Ryman.Still, I thought Giles Foden captured some of the austere atmosphere of the period during the war and in the end the book sort of worked.
Review by LizzieG
I did not find the start of Giles Foden's new novel, Turbulence, particularly promising. The framing of the book as a set of memoirs didn't really work for me, and the way the technical information was introduced was quite clunky (and frankly the majority of it wasn't referenced in the rest of the book, so it wouldn't be a hardship if it were cut). Saying that though, the meat of the story really did interest me. Despite the main character being somewhat unlikeable, I found myself caring what happened, and racing through to see how things ended. Sadly though, the ending mirrored the start, in that it seemed not to match the quality of the rest of the writing. I wonder how much it changes between this early review proof copy I read and the official release. Hopefully some of the clunkiness will have been ironed out. An interesting read nevertheless.
Review by BoPeep
Interesting read, if a little difficult for the non-techy-minded to follow in places. We read this and were inspired to go and read about the real story, which is always a plus, and I learned a good deal. I did not find it a comfortable read, though, and probably would not re-read for fun, as it is just not my style.
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