Heronfield Reviews

If you enjoyed reading one of my books (and even if you didn’t!) please leave a review here.  Constructive comments will help me to write more books that will appeal to you.

Thank you.

Dorinda Balchin

Review of Heronfield by the prestigious Historical Novel Society

The Kemshall family home, Heronfield, has been turned into a convalescent hospital during World War II. Tony’s brother, David, a hero to all in his family, is a Spitfire pilot and decorated as one of the men involved in the Battle of Britain. Tony, a survivor of Dunkirk, finds himself facing several battles: fighting a father who believes him a coward, fighting for the love of the woman of his dreams and fighting to keep the biggest secret from them all because Tony is a British spy, working in occupied France.

Heronfield is a hefty tome; a large paperback over 400 pages long, an indication of the amount of story here. The course of six years is spanned, from the beaches at Dunkirk to the liberation of the concentration camps. Many of the chapters have beginnings that are akin to the Pathé News segments, telling what is happening in other areas of the world before returning to the main action in either Heronfield or St Nazaire – a brilliant way of giving the reader all the information required.

The characters are incredibly realistic; it is difficult to set Heronfield down. It would not be possible to write a story about the bravery of the soldiers or the Resistance without making sure that the reader is aware of just why they were so brave, and this is put across tactfully, but still gives the reader an idea of the horrors faced by these people.

An amazing read.


Review by Whispering Stories

Reviewed by Jodie at Whispering Stories

Set in Europe during the Second World War, Heronfield takes us on a six year journey of war, friendship, love, sadness, and hope. We meet many different characters, a few of whom are taken right into our heart.

I became strongly attached to one of the main characters, Tony. A young man hardly in his twenties, he is secretly recruited as a British agent in the efforts to foil Hitler’s war. I found myself feeling sorry for him when certain members of his family turned against him for shirking his duties when in fact, unbeknown to them, he was doing the exact opposite, but was duty bound not to tell them.

I felt the turmoil and heartache he was going through. He showed a tremendous amount of strength and courage throughout the story – all borne by his passion to defeat Hitler, to prove to his father that he was indeed fighting in the war, and most of all, the driving force to keep going – his love for a woman.

Another character I enjoyed reading about was Sarah, a volunteer nurse. She gets stationed at Heronfield, a family home turned war hospital. She has plenty of heartache along the way but it makes her stronger over the years. As the story progresses and I found myself rooting for her all the way.

Some characters are constant, and others are fleeting, but memorable all the same. We come across a German soldier who makes us realise that they are not just the enemy. They are human too.

The German soldier does a selfless and heartfelt deed. We meet him again later on in the story and he has the opportunity to end a life. Instead he chooses to back down and explains that he doesn’t agree with Hitler, but if he doesn’t fight under the regime then he’s as good as dead anyway. It’s a touching scene and puts a different spin on the people behind the enemy faces.

The story grabbed me from the opening pages, with the graphic descriptions of the attacks on innocent civilians by the Germans. It’s harrowing but draws you right in, and you get a real sense of what actually went on during the war.

I liked the mini segments that gave real life time lines of what was happening during the war in various locations. It gave a sense of where the story would head next, and the progress of the war. They were superbly detailed without being boring.

The author has expertly carried out her research. The environment descriptions, the horrors of war, the abhorrent conditions of concentration camps, torture methods meted out, and many more besides are so wonderfully detailed that I found myself there. I winced at the persecution of innocents, gasped and grimaced at the torture methods bestowed on one of the characters, and I shed quite a few tears along the way.

My heart was in my mouth many times and the raw emotion grabbed at me and didn’t let go, even after finishing the book. I’ve never read a story that’s taken me by the soul and stayed with me quite the way Heronfield has done, and that’s a really good and beautiful thing – and a sure sign of a brilliantly well-written story.

Sadly I can only give this book five stars. I wish I could give it more but five is the maximum! An absolutely amazing story that needs to be read.


Review by Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

Heronfield by Dorinda Balchin is a six-year saga set in England during World War II. It is a fantastic story that put me on the battlefield and into the lives of brothers Tony and David, their friends, family and loved ones. Heronfield is the home of the two brothers, but is now being used as a convalescent hospital for those injured fighting the Germans. Sarah is a young woman who is volunteering at Heronfield, nursing the soldiers back to health. David joins up and becomes a fighter pilot, making his father, Sir Michael, very proud. Tony becomes a secret agent, parachuting into enemy territory, setting up a resistance group, and working to destroy the strategic spots without getting caught – but he is unable to tell his family what he is really doing. Sir Michael thinks he is a coward and not willing to fight for his country. The story took me into many of the battles and to the horrors in the concentration camp that the prisoners had to endure on a daily basis. Heronfield also shared with me the happy times of falling in love and seeing friends caring for and helping each other through very tough times.

What a wonderful book this is. Dorinda Balchin wrote four hundred and ninety pages of an excellent story. It took me longer than I expected to read it, but each page made me cry, cheer, smile, and anxiously await D-Day and the end of the war. Heronfield is a fictional story with accurate historical events that made for a superb book. I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially if you enjoy family sagas and World War II history because it combines these elements in an incredibly good read.


Review by ‘Discovering Diamonds’

Reviewed by Helen Hollick for ‘Discovering Diamonds’

Heronfield, the family home of the Kemshall family, is temporarily a convalescent hospital during World War II, and it forms the backdrop to an amazing read.

David is the family hero, an RAF pilot who took part in the Battle of Britain. His brother, Tony, is a Dunkirk survivor, but Tony has other battles than that of the war to contend with. His father believes him a coward, he has to fight for the love of a woman, and all the while to keep a very secret secret, well, secret. Tony is, in reality, a British spy working in occupied France.

The novel is a big book, it spans six years, with the paperback version making a hefty 400 pages. That can be a lot of story to plough through – from Dunkirk to Liberation, via concentration camps and the horrors and deprivations of war. But when the story is engrossing, and the reader wants to know what happens next to intriguing family members, who notices length?

I particularly liked the way some of the chapters opened with News Slots, relating what was happening beyond Heronfield. Cleverly done, Ms Balchin.


I would be hard pressed to say why I choose this book and confess it took me awhile to “get into it”, a short while, but after a faltering start I became totally absorbed in the story, which I found to be very well researched, with a cracking pace and thoroughly convincing.


Very well written, good classic storyline, and strong descriptive narrative of a very challenging time in European history. Lest we forget.


This was a book that I couldn’t put down. The storyline really took us back to wartime England and the marvellous work of the S.O.E. From Dunkirk to D day you could imagine the horrors of war especially the bombing of Coventry. I really felt for the character of Tony unsure of his girlfriend and when questioned by the S.S. it felt so real!
I would definitely recommend this book, a really good read.


Love novels about WW2 and this one ticked all the boxes for me. Accurate and detailed historical facts, together with fictional characters, who were described in such detail that made it easy to conjure up my own photo gallery, made it a most enjoyable and absorbing read. Many thanks and congratulations on this fine book to Dorinda Balchin, an amazing storyteller! Oh and by the way, please someone, make ‘Heronfield’ into a TV drama!


An incredible story that has taken me on a roller coast ride of emotions. From despair to hope, from love to hatred, from pity to admiration. I too love history and have even written my own WW11 novel incorporating the work of the SOE, but this book was very special. It was well written and led the reader through that most traumatic time in our history when all the good and bad of mankind are truly shown in all its glory and horror. A highly recommended book based on history as it was. Warts and all!


Found it really gripping as though I was there. The descriptions were terrific and painted very vivid pictures for me. Not a book I wanted to put down at all.


on 10 May 2017
I found Heronfield to be an excellent read, which records a light touch history of the second world war in occupied France. Perhaps it keeps the suspense going just a little too long, but overall an excellent book which I thoroughly recommend.


on 10 May 2017
I bought this book on Amazon Kindle, mainly because I had just read and enjoyed a book set in WW2, and both were different from the usual genre of books I read. The story spans the whole of WW2, but I was hooked after about five pages. The authors main characters are a bit “Boys Own” in their language and quite idealistic/stereotypical in their values. This is potentially a real detriment, but against that, the characters emotional life is very vividly and engagingly brought to life, and is used skillfully to paint a word picture of the issues facing people during, and as a consequence of, this horrifically destructive conflict. For example, the bombing of Coventry and it’s effects are brought home to the reader in a very convincing way. This combines with, what seems to be very accurate historical information, and genuinely exciting and realistic narrative about the exploits of the main character as a SIS operative in occupied France. All of the foregoing, taken together, result in an unusually engaging and broad, multi dimensional narrative. This book is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.


I would highly recommend this book it has everything, very emotional at times, extremely graphic in it’s descriptions. Loved it !!!


The characters set against historical facts of the Second World war make for a fantastic book which is hard to put down.


It was a change to hear a story of a British spy in the second world war & working with the resistance in war torn France. There acts of bravery inspirational. The torture Tony endured under the Germans & his imprisonment in a low camp were horrendous but his love for Sarah & his family kept him going. I’ve never read a book so long before but I made it & glad I did.


So much covered in this book , the bombing of Coventry, volunteer work, the RAF air battles, Army land battles and amazing stories about the SOE. A lovely romance was woven amongst all the carnage of war. The horrors of the concentration camps was also covered. I learnt so much and cried and rejoiced alongside the main characters


5 stars A brilliant book on 19 February 2017

This is the best book I have read for a long time. When I first saw the cover Downton Abbey came to mind, this story could not be more different, it is a love story and a story of the brutality and futility of war. It could be thought of as another story about the good wholesome beautiful young woman falling in love with the son of a sir who both she and his family thought was a coward. I am not giving any of the story away because you need to read it, it is a brilliant book the story is at times heartstrings and at the same time quite brutal it is the best book I have read in ages.


on 18 February 2017
It was amazing, I am of an age to remember some of the war. The SOE must have been so brave and strong to go into enemy territory. I feel it was very realistic. Thank you


5 starsPain By meg on 8 Feb. 2017

I have read many books about the 2nd. World war. But this book had been the best yet. I am sure there were similar characters in real life and this book must surely be dedicated to their bravery.
We must never forget their bravery. A great book and a must for anyone interested in the 2nd world war.


Enjoyable read By Ms. Jackie Patterson on 16 Feb. 2017

For those who enjoy historical fact mingled with a fast paced epic tale that traces it’s main characters through the whole of WW2, this book has it all. Interesting historical vignettes that manage to also capture the thrill and fear of a time that most of us have only heard about. Would definitely recommend.


5 stars An excellent, beautifully written WW2 novel

on 30 January 2017
A beautifully written and extremely well researched novel set during WW2. It would make a marvellous film! This book was a welcome change from the publishing fashion of breaking up a story into separate short books and labelling them a Trilogy etc. The author handled difficult topics well and her characters were placed within historical events which came alive because of their presence. As I have said already the research was excellent and I did check some of the RAF detail with my husband who is from an RAF family and he concurred. The author was unknown to me but I have now bought another of her books on the strength of the quality of writing and plotting in Heronfield. I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a good read with characters that stay with you long after the book finished.


Five stars Mind Blowing on 21 January 2017

Have not read a book that has made me feel so emotional & saddened at the destruction of human life..
Having been born in1947 it is hard to grasp the fight for justice & freedom for your country,& the horrors of war .C congratulations to the Author for tremendous book


Five Stars   on 18 January 2017



5 stars  A strong storyline full of interesting facts.    on 7 January 2017

Could not put this book down. Such an a powerful storyline. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in WW2.


5 stars Wonderful on 4 January 2017

I couldn’t put this book down . it is so well written and has bee n so well researched that it just races along and draw s the reader in

5 stars Excellent book on 27 November 2016

A fantastic read. I was sorry when it came to an end. A lot of historical fact. Some of which I could remember as a young girl growing up. This author hasn’t written any more books in a similar style.


4.0 out of 5 stars Good sense of history,strong characters 14 April 2017 By Jim Murray
…Believable characters and imaginative storyline cleverly spanning WW2 from beginning to end. A good piece of historical fiction with vivid description of so many aspects of the horrors of war, from Dunkirk to Battle of Britain and DDay landings and also most illuminating insight into SOE operations and an excellent image of the patriotism and bravery within the French resistance…The pace is maintained though and this is certainly a page turner of epic proportions…


Totally immersing By Rosie B. on 27 April 2017
Because of the length of the book one can come to know the characters . It was hard to leave them between reads. Good hair raising moments.Heronfield (reviewed on Amazon)
A gripping plot with authentic historical interest
5.0 out of 5 stars
3 Mar 2013
By C. Pankhurst
Format:Kindle Edition
Heronfield combines a real feel for the period in which it is set, with a compelling pace and structure which make it a pleasure to read. The characters and their lives are convincingly drawn, and the dialogue has an authentic ring. The range of characters, with their different lives and perspectives is impressive. Several strands are developed, with the central plot growing interestingly and gripping the attention. A thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read.5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful! 25 Oct 2013 By P J Sowler –
Published on Amazon.comWhat a fantastic read. Just the sort of story I like. Set in WW2 it not only gives plenty of facts but a great story too with the right balance between the two. My only criticism is that it could have been edited better but certainly didn’t spoil it for me. More please.Thank you so much for your kind review. Heronfield is now with a proofreader/copy editor and changes will be updated shortly!

5.0 out of 5 stars authentic, 1 Nov 2013 By lizziep
This review is from Amazon
Having read a number of books set in the war, I started to read this book with a certain amount of trepidation – too often authors are not able to convey the real sense of what it must have been like to be in that situation. “Heronfield” was a most ‘pleasant’ surprise (I use the word ‘pleasant’ in quotation marks as I have to admit that some of the descriptions were unpleasantly graphic – but even this added to the feeling of reality and authenticity) in that it was obvious that the author had not only spent a great deal of time researching her subject, but had complete immersed herself in it. From the descriptions of pre-war life in the big house, to the description of life in an interment camp, the whole novel had a feeling of authenticity and was able to indicate to me what it must have been like to have been alive during that whole dreadful period – not just a serving member of the forces, but also the civilians living (or existing) back at home and how they coped.
Ms Balchin is a relatively new author, however, her style of writing reminds me very much of the style of Nevil Shute – an author I have gone back to time after time. I suspect that Ms Balchin will have a similar effect.

Thank you so much lizziep, to be compared with a great author such as Nevil Shute  is such an honour.  I hope you will enjoy my future books as much as you did Heronfield.


Review by AS    A real page turner I would give it 5 stars *****

I have tried to review this book on Amazon but so far my review hasn’t appeared so I will do it here.

I was given a copy of Heronfield as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know much about the Second World War but found that I learned a lot from this story through the experiences of the characters. I liked the short linking passages which showed how this story fitted into the world situation at the time but without any loss of pace.

I was impressed with the way the author carefully created her characters so that they could each portray one aspect of the war – fighter pilot, nurse, secret agent, the French Resistance, the Americans in Britain, the concentration camps – yet their lives were all carefully linked and interwoven in a very uncontrived way. The main storyline was very ‘real’ in the way it showed how duty and misunderstanding must cause problems in war time situations. I found myself really rooting for the two main characters and it was hard to put the book down!

All in all, a very enjoyable read which I would thoroughly recommend.

(Hopefully Amazon will soon be showing all reviews posted!)

Interest, pace and excitement
Review of Heronfield 5*****
25th May 2013 by Mac
A great book. Unlike the previous reviewer I have a fairly good knowledge of the Second World War and I was impressed with the accuracy of this novel. The dates and details of the main events are historically accurate yet brought to life by a cast of believable characters and so never a ‘dull history book’; the events of the bombing of Coventry for example were really gripping and I could not put the book down until I had read to the end of the section to find out what happened to the characters.
The structure of the book is impressive and keeps you reading by the art of telling one persons story then leaving you at a cliff-hanger while it goes back to another character to tell the story of what is happening to them at the same time, then you get left with another cliff hanger! I enjoyed the way that the stories all intertwined so that you could see the effect of one person’s experiences on the others.
In summary, I found this a well researched novel which was character driven whilst giving a good overview of the war. It has interest, pace and excitement and is well worth the read.

Thrilling   5 stars   Reviewed on Amazon
1 August 2016
By Linda Kane
An ambitious and thrilling book for a first-time author. Dorinda Balchin wrote an ambitious book of the horror of World War II. You immediately become a part of the story and the two main characters lives, Tony and David. This book makes you laugh, cry, and feel for young men who serve their country, who see the horrors of war, who end up in a concentration camp, and just try to survive until the end of the War.


5 stars     What a great story     Reviewed on Amazon

9th August 2016By Len Edgington

There was never any doubt in my mind that this book deserved a five star rating. On every page I was there with the characters, and that to me is the sign of an excellent book.
I thoroughly recommend it to those who enjoy WW2 sagas

4.0 out of 5 stars
I’d give this 4.5 stars if I could!
Reviewed on Amazon
31 Oct 2013
By Sarah
Another book I downloaded to my Kindle while listed as free, and while I very rarely give 5 star reviews this almost managed it! Set during WWII Heronfield is set in a stately home that is commandeered for the war effort. I’d almost class this as an epic saga, we cover the whole of WWII with the characters but without ever feeling like it’s dragging.
I found Tony’s central story line pretty gripping and was really annoyed when the other characters interrupted, then almost couldn’t bear to leave them to get back to Tony!
I love my books to be character driven and this ticks the box, however there is a huge amount of historical fact woven in to the novel, the author explains this in the preface and it’s worked into the fictional story line quite well. Some of the historical info is less necessary to the plot but it does give an idea of the scale of the conflict and is interesting.
There was nothing really wrong with the story but I’m not a huge fan of massive literary coincidences and two of the male characters run into each other towards the end rather conveniently. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to give anything away but the world is a big place so it lost half a star for that.
This is a self published novel so don’t expect perfection, having said that though it has been written to a very high standard and I would highly recommend even the paid version as you get a lot of book for your buck. I believe that the author’s website states the book is being given a professional edit and I think it will benefit a little from the final polish.
If you want action, adventure, romance, and history all rolled in to one absorbing read give this a go.

5* A real tearjerker of a novel about WW2

on 22 October 2016

I could not put this book down.
Although I would consider this story a novel it did incorporate actual facts and events that took place during the years of WWII. We meet Tony and his family and the beautiful Sarah that he fell in love with.
I could feel Tony’s pain when he could not tell his family & Sarah about his secret work.
His courageous work and that of many people who made up the resistance should never be forgotten.
Icried reading about the conditions in the concentration camp & the dreadful brutality of the Nazi.
The dreadful price that was paid for peace should always be remembered.

Five Stars

on 20 September 2016
A real wartime epic. A novel rich with historical detail and engaging characters. A must read.
5 stars    Reviewed on Amazon
22nd May 2016 by Ann Jones
Good griping story couldn’t put it down

Five stars A. Heart wrenching story 

 on 24 October 2016
5 stars    Reviewed on Amazon
18th May 2016 By Sheila Inn
Brilliant book
Very good read couldn’t put it down.  Tom bilington 2013-06-23 02:58

3 thoughts on “Heronfield Reviews

  1. Review by AS

    A real page turner I would give it 5 stars *****

    I have tried to review this book on Amazon but so far my review hasn’t appeared so I will do it here.

    I was given a copy of Heronfield as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know much about the Second World War but found that I learned a lot from this story through the experiences of the characters. I liked the short linking passages which showed how this story fitted into the world situation at the time but without any loss of pace.

    I was impressed with the way the author carefully created her characters so that they could each portray one aspect of the war – fighter pilot, nurse, secret agent, the French Resistance, the Americans in Britain, the concentration camps – yet their lives were all carefully linked and interwoven in a very uncontrived way. The main storyline was very ‘real’ in the way it showed how duty and misunderstanding must cause problems in war time situations. I found myself really rooting for the two main characters and it was hard to put the book down!

    All in all, a very enjoyable read which I would thoroughly recommend.

    1. Thank you so much for your great review AS. I’m glad I achieved my objective in trying to give a view of the war from all sorts of perspectives rather than just one which is often the case.

      Sorry you weren’t able to post this review on Amazon. It seems they are only posting from people who bought through them. I suppose that is good in that it only allows genuine posts, but it also stops other genuine posts from people who bought elsewhere. I guess there’s no way around it!

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