The Last Boat
This is the sequel to Against The Tide and will be published in July 2103
The Last Boat begins with a close-up account of the greatest maritime disaster in British history when the British Expeditionary Force lost more troops in ten minutes than it had in the previous nine months.
The news was so shocking that Churchill suppressed it and the report on the event is sealed until the year 2040.
But this is not an investigation into this tragic event but the beginning of a journey for a group of young people who have gone to help but find themselves trapped and fleeing the Nazi blitzkrieg as it rampages through France.
At the same time that the Luftwaffe is strafing the survivors of their bombing another shipment, so important that it could have changed the outcome of the war, is trying to escape from France.
The tragedy was the sinking of HMT Lancastria
The shipment was world’s entire supply of D2O or ‘heavy water’ without which research into splitting the atom would have been impossible.
Prising apart the floorboards of history, The Last Boat links these two events as Jack Renouf and his friends try to escape the Germans and help this cargo to safety.
But safety is an illusion and the story culminates in the bombing of Jersey on 28th June and leaves Jack in desperate need of another Last Boat to escape.
The narrative voice is Jack Renouf’s, whom readers might have met in Against The Tide. He is a year older but only a little wiser. Through the immediacy of his first person perspective you are compelled to witness events which cannot leave you unmoved. ‘Muscular authenticity’ was the verdict of one reviewer while others have described Jack’s account as ‘intense, exciting, absorbing and frightening’
Against The Tide
Another 5 Star Amazon Review:
5.0 out of 5 stars Against The Tide - a book to be savoured 11 Dec 2012
By Mrs. C. A. Nicholls
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Having spent several years in Jersey in the 1960s and 70s, I initially ordered this for a tale set in the island I love, having seen a review in the local Jersey paper. Then getting impatient for the book to arrive in Australia, I downloaded the Kindle version. From the start this was obviously going to be a really meaty story with a wealth of diverse characters that would take time to get to know. Ten books sound just about right! With the introduction in a polo pool and the characters coming at you thick and fast, I found there was not one page that I could afford to gloss over. There is no waffle, and every page a delight as the scene is meticulously set during the build up to the biggest upheaval in the history of the island. For those who know Jersey the landmarks are recognisable and authentic; for those who don't, they are not overwhelmed with blatant 'in island' knowledge.
Jack Renouf's impulsive and late teens, risk taking behaviour makes for very fast moving action. You feel every embarrassment as he deals with his emotional turmoil with the two young girls in his life, yet at the same time being surprised at how capable, daring and brave this 18 year old can be. This journey is going to be fun.
The book is a much anticipated pleasure to read. Definitely a 5 star rating book to be savoured.
Please look at Against The Tide on the UK Amazon site for more 5 star reviews:
'Against The Tide + John F Hanley'
Against The Tide was officially launched in Jersey at the Havre-des-Pas swimming pool at 13:30 on Saturday 15th September.
As the novel starts in the middle of a water polo match, the local water polo team put on an exhibition.
The author was photographed and interviewed by the Jersey Evening Post and BBC Radio Jersey.
A feature appeared in the JEP on Saturday 22nd September and the book is on prominent display in Waterstones in Jersey.
The next launch will be in Cornwall after the author is interviewed by the West Briton.
"The Last Boat" by John F. Hanley is the eagerly awaited sequel to "Against the Tide", which ended with the outbreak of WWII. The second book takes us to the evacuation of Dunkirk and Allied troops from Northern France. I was amazed at the amount of detail the book was able to supply. So much happened in such a short time span at the beginning of the war that few of us can imagine the multitude of factors that came into play for the people of the Channel Islands and Northern France: Where to escape to, how to escape and how far exactly the Germans had progressed, to name a few. The book gives a rich and realistic impression of the invasion and its progress. Most of the cast from the previous book return and so several personal dramas and issues between the main characters are still to be resolved and these add splendidly to the illustration of the uncertainty of the time. Written in excellent prose and rich in plot the book was hard to put aside, with new turns, dramas and events in nearly every chapter. Civilian and military considerations, espionage, some precious cargo and personal tragedies mingle with some historical events, such as the eventual sizing of the Channel Islands and the famous sinking of battle ships. The book is an amazing compilation of data and facts and with its great characters and plot historical fiction at its best. It gets to show how much there was to events that in most history books only get a sentence or two, and how much there is to say and feel about them. This is a gripping and compelling read as much as it is informative.
Ever since I finished 'Against the tide', I have been eagerly anticipating the 2nd book in the series. The author made me care about the characters so much in his first novel that I couldn't wait to find out what happens next...I certainly wasn't expecting the jaw dropping opening chapters detailing the true events of the demise of the Lancastria. This is such a well researched novel, it's the best kind of history lesson because I'm following the journeys and adventures of our protagonists yet filling in those gaps in my knowledge about the war. Having listened to my grandparents' stories (they lived through the second world war) I thought I knew a fair bit but now I know so much more, I especially appreciated the author's notes at the end of the novel to help bridge the storytelling with the true events. So come on John F Hanley, bring on novel no 3 asap!!
by Sarah Sharpe
"The Last Boat" by John F. Hanley is the eagerly awaited sequel to "Against the Tide", which ended with the outbreak of WWII.
The second book takes us to the evacuation of Dunkirk and Allied troops from Northern France. I was amazed at the amount of detail the book was able to supply. So much happened in such a short time span at the beginning of the war that few of us can imagine the multitude of factors that came into play for the people of the Channel Islands and Northern France: Where to escape to, how to escape and how far exactly the Germans had progressed, to name a few. The book gives a rich and realistic impression of the invasion and its progress.
Most of the cast from the previous book return and so several personal dramas and issues between the main characters are still to be resolved and these add splendidly to the illustration of the uncertainty of the time.
Written in excellent prose and rich in plot the book was hard to put aside, with new turns, dramas and events in nearly every chapter.
Civilian and military considerations, espionage, some precious cargo and personal tragedies mingle with some historical events, such as the eventual seizing of the Channel Islands and the famous sinking of the Lancastria.
The book is an amazing compilation of data and facts and with its great characters and plot historical fiction at its best. It gets to show how much there was to events that in most history books only get a sentence or two, and how much there is to say and feel about them.
This is a gripping and compelling read as much as it is informative.
by Christoph Fischer
'The Last Boat' is a cracking read, I demolished it with gusto. It flows along at a terrific pace and sweeps you along with Jack and his friends (and a villain or two). Like the author's previous book 'Against the Tide' the research is thorough and utterly absorbing but never heavy handed. You are certainly entertained as you are educated with period details and events being entirely natural. Lovers of historical fiction will be fascinated with a time and place seldom visited in fiction, however this novel will undoubtedly appeal to the casual reader. This series shows great promise and I await the further adventures of Jack with baited breath!
by Phil Wood
I thoroughly enjoyed it although, not having read the predecessor I was at a bit of a disadvantage. It covers a period of WW2 that I knew little about especially in the Channel islands. It cracked along at a ferocious pace and left me wanting to know more about what happened under occupation as well as the details of what happened to all those in the book.
Pass on my thanks to the author.
by NetGalley Review
THE LAST BOAT
Rip-roaring Roller-coaster *****
I was offered a review copy of ‘The Last Boat’ by author John F Hanley and was delighted to accept as I had stated in my review of his first book: “readers are left to ponder on how various individuals will make out after Germany occupies the Channel Islands”. A similar feeling remains after reading this second historical novel, with anticipation and expectation aplenty for the next.
‘The Last Boat’ continues from ‘Against The Tide’ and again it is narrated by main protagonist, Jack, who is caught up in rip-roaring roller-coaster action as the Channel Islands are about to be attacked and taken over by Germany in 1940. The book commences at the actual greatest ever tragedy with the sinking of the troopship Lancastria and a loss of life exceeding that of the combined Titanic and Lusitania disasters. Jack is never to be the same again after witnessing the bombing of the Lancastria and then becoming swept up in killing the enemy – he is hardened and has become a much more ruthless character.
‘The Last Boat’ may be fiction but author John F Hanley cleverly weaves the story around facts, and readers will be helped by a ‘Chronology’ setting out historically true events from the summer of 1939 and the start of World War II until the occupation of the Channel Islands in 1940. In addition to the real demise of the Lancastria small boats from the islands did genuinely help with return of the British Expeditionary Forces from France, there were French Foreign Legion soldiers involved, there was a plan to get heavy water safely away from the Germans, there was an evacuation from the Islands etc. These factors are skilfully employed by the author to give insights to tensions between Britain and France, expose sympathies by Islanders for Germans, unmask conspirators, reveal intolerance of Jews, outline conflict between Fascism and Communism etc. at the same time as telling a gripping and compelling tale.
There is a more intense and grittier feel to ‘The Last Boat’ yet it continues with many of the same characters from ‘Against The Tide’. Again individuals are as well-crafted as they were in the first book, and there are additional characters and groupings that add depth, and there are new situations and experiences to build tension and ensure suspense. In spite of the harsh and harrowing reality of the story it is told with a light touch and with use of humour, and again atmosphere is heightened via Shakespearian quotations. Though not essential, readers of the first book will have an advantage for this sequel, but everyone should appreciate the ‘Boys’ Own Paper’ swashbuckling style of writing and the non-stop action within the plot. In addition to ‘Author’s Notes’, including reference to ‘Against The Tide’, it would have been useful to have a ‘Cast Of Characters’, but this does not detract from the 5-star rating of ‘The Last Boat’ as a stand-alone historical thriller.
by Doug Elliott - Amazon Vine Top 500 reviewer
Action with attitude in this sequel
The Last Boat is the sequel to Against the Tide and as the reader I was plunged straight back into Jack Renouf and his adventures along with all the other characters met in the first book. In all honesty I hadn't realised how much I missed them all. The Last Boat brings an extra depth to these characters, Jack himself is a year older, a little wiser but still a young man with a lot to learn about life, love and himself.
The book starts in France in June 1940, Jack having left his studies due to the war is involved in the rescue of some of the thousands of Allied soldiers from the beaches around Dunkirk. This book has switched from swimming to sailing, the timings of the tides become crucial to the various missions that litter the pages as Jack begins to realise what type of man he really is. I found myself much more involved with the characters, I actually shed a tear before I was halfway through the book as actions and decisions in the past begin to have very real consequences in the present.
Living in Jersey and having often thought about the sheer enormousness of the decision the locals had to make; to stay and live under German rule or go and leave everything they knew behind, balancing the safety of their loved ones on an uncertain set of scales. John Hanley has done a fantastic job of bringing the scenes to life, those when it was clear the islands could not be defended along with the queues to register for evacuation.
So in conclusion don't read this without reading Against the Tide, the characters you meet there will explain a lot in this story. Expect a more thoughtful book; the Famous Five mad missions, hiding and carrying out daring deeds, are all still there, but this time the magnitude of what is at stake is far more apparent. I loved it. there is something for everyone within the pages of this book, pure history, the story of a young man finding his way in the world along with some boat-fixing and various other mechanical skills I never knew I wanted to know. John Hanley has provided some useful timelines and notes at the end of this book which I wish I'd realised whilst reading as they provide answers to some of the questions I had.
I was even more delighted to discover that there is to be another episode to find out what happens to Jack and the others
by Cleo Bannister Top 500 Amazon Vine Reviewer
Even Better Than The First Book
Having read and enjoyed Against The Tide, I was pleased to get my hands on this book which is the second part of the trilogy. Now with some series of books, it may be desirable to have read the previous part, but not essential as the current book may work on a standalone basis. However, this is definitely not the case here and I would urge anyone who is picking up the book to firstly seek out and read Against The Tide if they have not already done so. Quite apart from the fact that it is a very good read, there is a great deal of background on the main characters, places and events which you will struggle with otherwise.
We again meet Jack Renouf, a young man from Jersey who narrates this tale in the first person. Jack is an engaging chap, thoughtful and resourceful. In the earlier book there was the phony war going on at the start of WW2, and on a personal level Jack was torn between his two loves in something of a coming of age story. This time round in the following year, the phony war is definitely past and we find Jack in France helping to rescue allied soldiers. The age of innocence is certainly long gone and Jack has had to grow up a lot in the last year, although he still has his muddled love interests to contend with.
Much as I enjoyed the first book I would say that this one was even better. After the first few pages I was hooked into this well thought out, absorbing and well written tale. It is very evenly paced and does not lag at any stage. It is clearly meticulously researched both as to the events of the early part of the war, and in its detail of places. Personally I am looking forward to the last of the trilogy, but it is a shame it will be the last. Perhaps the author will rethink his strategy as there is surely at least the potential for a couple more books in this saga.
by Brett Hassell - Amazon Top 50 reviewer
Born in Jersey in 1946, he trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before teaching in London, Jersey and Cornwall. After a master's degree at Bath University, he returned to Jersey as deputy head of his old school. His first novel, Against The Tide, was published in 2012 and he now lives with his wife and family in Cornwall.