Michael Tappenden attended Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathemetical grammar school in Kent, England, achieved post graduate qualifications, became a member of the Chartered Society of Designers and Principal Lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts. This might seem a fairly normal and traditional career except that between the first and last he also worked as a labourer, grave digger, and gardener, joined the Parachute Regiment of the British Army (including a tour as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in a civil war in Cyprus) and became a graphic and interior designer and photographer. The explanation for this quite adventurous CV, probably lay with his father, Ted Tappenden who, soon after midnight on June 6th 1944 landed by glider deep inside enemy territory to capture what was later to become known as Pegasus Bridge. The first Allied action of D-Day and the source for Michael's debut novel at the evergreen age of seventy one.
Pegasus to Paradise
Ted and Florrie were childhood sweethearts, who in 1936, married at the church on top of the Hill where they both lived, unaware of the dark rumblings from Europe, which in a few short years were to change their lives for ever. Ted is called up in 1940 and joins an elite Airborne glider force tasked with attacking, capturing and holding bridges in enemy-held Normandy, vital to the success of the D-Day invasion. At sixteen minutes past midnight, Ted and his comrades clamber from the wreckage of their gliders and successfully capture and hold the Pegasus and Horsa bridges. The first Allied action of D-Day. From there he continues to fight at the bloody Rhine Crossing, across Germany until finally meeting the Russian army on the Baltic.The casualties are terrible but in 1946 Ted is demobbed and returns to Florrie and his young family unscathed. Or apparently so, for Florrie doesn't know the man who returns and soon the trauma of constant death and battle takes its toll on Ted and both have to struggle to come to terms with such a destructive problem particularly in the buttoned up society of the 1940s and 50s. To make matters worse, Florrie's mental health deteriorates. How will Ted deal with this? With the same heightened sense of duty and loyalty that won the war or will that same stubborness turn and destroy him. Based on a true story, Pegasus to Paradise is an ode to both the extraordinary efforts of ordinary men and women in WW2 and a deeply moving portrait of trauma, survival and the power of love in post-war Britain.
Best books of 2014. Top Aussie reviewer puts Pegasus to Paradise in top three for Goodreads review.
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