“Broken Faces” by Deborah Carr tells the story of Lady Alexandra Baldwyn “Lexi”, her brother Charles, his friend Freddie Chevalier, with whom Lexi is in love, and Charles’ fiancée, Meri. 1914 England was a difficult time. Charles and Meri were engaged to be married, but that didn’t stop Charles from one last fling with his mistress…where Meri found them together. Meri is heartbroken and breaks the engagement.
The war in France was raging and young men were joining up to fight the Huns. Freddie goes home to Jersey where he tends the farm with his father until he decides that he needs to help in the fight. Lexi just wants to contribute and volunteers, driving ambulances and delivering supplies in England. Meri joins the V.A.D. and is nursing in a field hospital in France. Charles is fighting in the trenches and is soon joined by Freddie. Freddie is wounded in the face and is evacuated to the field hospital where Meri is a nurse. Eventually Freddie ends up in a Facial Reconstruction Hospital in Amiens where everything possible is done to repair the damage done to his face.
I could just re-write the story in my review, because there are so many facets of this novel. However, I must say that reading this novel gave a true glimpse of what had to be the most horrible type of warfare. Human beings maimed and killed over a swath of land known as “no man’s land”, constant barrage of munitions, mud, filth, deprivation. This book follows these four young people as they come to grips with their lives during and after the war. With carnage and damage surrounding them, can they even think of going on with new lives.
I enjoyed the book from the historical viewpoint, but it was hard reading of the terrible injuries and the attempts of the men and women to overcome them.
Roseanna M. White is an author whose books I have enjoyed for quite a long time. I especially love the way she makes her characters so human and vulnerable while also strong. “A Name Unknown” is the latest novel I have read and I loved every page. Rosemary Gresham’s character was conniving, thieving, sentimental, witty and totally engaging. Her counterpart, Peter Holstein, was characterized humorously as an inattentive, shy, bookworm.
The era in which the story takes place had so many options to write about and I think that Ms. White hit upon the perfect plot. Before WWI, England was a hotspot for treason and espionage and political sentiment ran high. Rosemary’s reason for going to Kensey Manor was to supposedly to categorize Peter’s extensive library. But her real reason for being there was to get the goods on him. Peter needed to prove his loyalty to England and the crown and needed help doing that. Whatever else Peter was involved in was there for Rosemary to glean for herself. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game these two played and the supporting characters portrayed in the book were convincing and appropriate. I am anxiously waiting for further novels in this series, Shadows Over England, set in my favorite genre.
I received a complimentary print copy of this book from LitFuse.com.
“High as the Heavens” by Kate Breslin is another wonderful book set during WWI. Evelyn Marche lives in Brussels in 1917, during the German occupation. Evelyn works as Sister Nurse Marche of the Belgian Red Cross in the German hospital in Brussels, and in her uncle’s café. What most people do not know is that Evelyn is also a member of La Dame Blanche, a resistance organization. She lives with her aunt, uncle, mother and two German soldiers who are billeted in their home. Her life is fraught with danger and intrigue. Just keeping her clandestine activities secret from the Germans which whom she must work takes lots of stealth. One evening she sees a plane crash outside the city, and rushes to help. One man is dead and the other badly hurt. When she really looks at his face, she is astonished to find that it is her “dead” husband, a British Officer who perished in the first weeks of the war. She takes him to the German hospital for help and then spirits him away for safety from the Germans. Simon and Evelyn have each lived through unspeakable horrors and need to find their way back to each other and get out of the mess they are in.
Again, Ms. Breslin has written a compelling and undeniably exciting war novel. I loved this book and look forward to reading many more thrilling works by this author.
Kate Breslin is a wonderfully talented author. Her novel, “Not by Sight” was one that I was not able to stop reading until the end. I stayed up far too late for a couple of evenings because each page-turn brought more curiosity about what would happen next. There was also the hint of danger and espionage along with the story of the Women’s Land Army of WWI. I was intrigued by these women who did their part for the war effort by doing back-breaking farming work to free up the men to fight…very well researched and presented.
In this novel Grace has no use for conscientious objectors who will not join up. She is particularly frustrated and angry at Jack Bellingham, a supposed rake and rogue who plots to avoid joining up, when Grace’s brother Colin is fighting in the trenches. Unbeknownst to Grace, Jack is a part of the war effort, not just in the way she thinks he should be. I am not going to go into the description of the plot of this story because I don’t want to spoil it for future readers. Just know that I will pounce on any book written by Kate Breslin. She always gives the reader great characters, great plots, great word images to go along with the story so that you feel a part of it.
“Hope Rising” by Stacy Henrie is a novel about World War I in France. It is the second book in the “Of Love and War” series. The United States Army Nurse Corp, established in 1901, had approximately 10,000 nurses serving overseas. If these nurses married or became pregnant, they were honorably discharged and sent home.
This story is about one of those nurses. She discovers that she is pregnant and tells Ralph, but he is killed in the trenches before they can be married. Corporal Joel Campbell is brought into the hospital where she is working. Unknown to her, Joel was Ralph’s best friend and blames himself for Ralph’s death because he ordered him to take half of the troops, with Joel taking the other half, to cross a meadow. The Germans lobbed a grenade into Ralph’s group, killing him and others.
This story seems real as Ms. Henrie portrays it. My grandfather fought in France in WW I, but would never talk about it. The description of the hellish conditions of combat, the bombardments, and deprivations that are described make the reader feel that he is right there in the midst of battle. I always tend to put myself in the novels I read because I feel so much more a part of the story. I noticed during reading this book that after I stopped the story stayed with me for a while. I am determined to read all the books in this series and to look for more books by Stacy Henrie.
I was sent a free print copy of this book by Night Owl Reviews, and a free Kindle copy from NetGalley.com in return for my honest assessment of the book.
“The Walnut Tree” by Charles Todd is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It is published by William Morrow an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The story begins in France, in July, 1914. The Germans are poised to enter France through Belgium. The British have issued an ultimatum that if the Germans invade Belgium then England will declare war on Germany. It is the start of World War I. Lady Elspeth Douglas of Scotland is visiting her friend Madeleine and her husband Henri. Madeleine is expecting and wants to travel to her home of Villard, France to await the birth of her baby. Because the threat of German invasion is so great, her husband wants her to stay in Paris with Lady Elspeth. Lady Elspeth fancies herself in love with Madeleine’s brother Alain Montigny.
Unfortunately, the Germans overrun the new, small country of Belgium and any British citizen who is still in Paris is trying to get home to England. Lady Elspeth wants to go home and see about her uncle and cousins and to try to do something for the war effort. Before she is able to leave, Alain comes home to say goodbye to his sister and Lady Elspeth and asks for Elspeth’s hand in a marriage to take place after the war is over. Both he and Henri are called to the front and are in the thick of the fighting. Elspeth accepts Alain’s ring with the understanding that he will approach her uncle and ask for her hand. Until then, the arrangement is to be kept secret.
As Lady Elspeth is trying to get to Calais to board a ship for Dover she was caught up in the exodus of the wounded from the front. She tried to help nurse those who were injured and subsequently found herself close to the battlefield and ran into a friend of her cousin’s Peter Gilchrist. He took her under his wing and helped her get back to Calais. In helping nurse the soldiers in the field, she decided that she would try to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. As a member of the peerage, Elspeth should have had the permission of her guardian, her uncle. However, knowing that he would refuse her she let it be known that she was alone in the world and did not refer to herself as Her Ladyship.
Lady Elspeth successfully completed her Sister’s training and then was sent to France to help tend the wounded. She would then make return trips to care for troops who were being transported back to England to recuperate. Along the way, she met up with Peter Gilchrist again and fell in love. The rest of the story has to be experienced as you read this book. Believe me you will not be sorry that you have this book in your library. I fell in love with the characters in this book and the time period. I truly felt as though I was there with Lady Elspeth as she and her countrymen came to grips with the war and their part in it.
I received a free Kindle copy of this book from Harper Collins in return for my honest review.