In her latest historical fiction novel, Ellen Gable tells the story of a 21-year-old woman who volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I. She is sent overseas with one of her closest friends. Most of the book takes place in France during the war. At first, Julia is woefully unprepared for the realities of war, though she quickly adapts to getting her hands dirty taking care of injured soldiers in a field hospital in Soissons, France.
A romance blossoms as the gifts Julia made and/or purchased for her future “beloved,” she gives away to help soldiers in need. The novel is told mainly from two points-of-view, which adds to the intrigue and interest while also giving us two very different experiences of the war. A number of detailed descriptions set the mood and the scene for this romance. Some of the things that happened felt predictable but in a way that felt satisfying, in a Hallmark movie sort of way.
As someone who prayed for my future husband before I'd met him and even after, before I was sure we would get married, I can identify with the hope and longing of having someone to love. Like the author, I experienced many years of waiting for a guy I liked to notice me and be interested.
I love that the author’s husband wrote all of the sonnets that appear in the correspondence between Julia and her beloved. I also like the notions that prayers will be answered and love will inspire hope in darkest hours. Both themes strengthen this war-time novel’s appeal.
I have enjoyed Ellen Gable’s other historical fiction novels. Among my favorites are: A Subtle Grace and In Name Only.
I’m interested in reading Charlotte’s Honor, Book 2 in the Great War – Great Love Series when it comes out in late 2018.