Giles Foden’s name is probably familiar since he wrote The Last King of Scotland. Most of his novels are set in Africa, but Turbulence moves to Europe and has as its main focus the predicting of the weather for the D-Day Normandy landings.
The story is retold in documents the aged narrator is compiling as he sails north from the Antarctic in Habbakuk, a ship constructed of Pykerete. Henry Meadows recalls how he, as a gifted but rather callow young meteorologist, was sent to Scotland to try to worm out the Ryman number secret from an ageing, quirky, pacifist boffin.
The narrative is thoroughly entertaining and at times, hilarious as Meadows bungles in his attempts to be a spy and in a dramatic episode, eliminates the source of the vital information. However, wherever we follow the narrator, be it Holy Loch, on board the Habbakuk or in the met service on the eve of D-Day, the background is convincingly evoked so that we share Meadows’ passions, his despair and his elation.
Real science is effectively woven into the fiction, so that we have an insight into Pyke’s Habbakuk project and we listen in to quarrelsome telephone conferences of the meteorological experts of the US, Norway and Britain on the eve of D-Day. Early understanding of the rhesus negative issue is brought into the story and the use of a sea lion to detect and disarm underwater mines. This all adds up to a very meaty read.
Excitement builds up as D-Day approaches … but you should read this excellent narrative for yourself – it is well worth it!