This novel from the pen of one of Britain’s leading naval historians tells the story of a family living in Hampstead, north London, in the years before and during the First World War.
The father, Robert Steel, a former naval lieutenant, has used his talent as a raconteur of international class to secure a comfortable life ashore by marriage to the heiress of an industrial fortune, but she, soon seeing through his outward show, has established herself as the real master of the household. By contrast with their disintegrating relationship their children, Henrietta, George, Andrew and William form strong bonds of love and shared memories.
There are hints of changes to come in their secure lives, but the war in August 1914 seems to fall from a clear blue sky. George and William have joined the Royal Navy, and they take part in the major battles of the Falkland Islands and Jutland; Andrew has volunteered for the army and is sent to France; Mrs Steel and Henrietta scan the casualty lists in the papers with dread.
This is a novel on many levels, from the fun, fantasies and anxieties of the Steel children as they grow in the high noon of Edwardian England to stunning periods of action on the family yacht before the war and in the great battles at sea or on the Somme.
Author: Peter Padfield
Title: Salt and Steel
First Published by: Century
Date: 1 December 1986