First Time Solo

By Iain Maloney

Synopsis

A gripping and ultimately deeply effecting literary debut, First Time Solo is more than a war story, it is a beautifully rendered portrait of men preparing for conflict and a society on the brink of seismic social change. It's 1943 and Jack Devine, a farmer's son, is finally called up to the RAF. Jack dreams of becoming a pilot, breaking hearts, and returning home a hero. The realities of training are very different, with boredom, bullying, and casual violence the norm.

Drawn together by a love of jazz music, Jack makes friends with Terry, a worldly Welshman dabbling in the black market; Joe, an active Communist, as well as Yorkshire poet Doug. Jack, Joe and Terry form a jazz band to surprising acclaim and for a while an alternative future to that preordained for each seems possible. But the initial camaraderie soon gives way to simmering resentment as age-old tensions resurface, ultimately resulting in tragedy.