New York : William Morrow, 2009
329 p. ; 24 cm ISBN/ISSN:
9780061791765, 0061791768, Language:
Independent-minded Bess Crawford's upbrining is far different from that of the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. At the outbreak of WWI, she volunteers for the nursing corps, serving from the battlefields of France to the doomed hospital ship Britannic. On one voyage, she promises to a deliver a message from a dying officer to his brother. Once she's able to do so, she's disturbed at the brother's indifferent reception of the message, and when an unexpected turn of events provides her with an opportunity to stay with the family for a short time, she takes it
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Charles Todd is the American mother-and-son writing team (Caroline and Charles Todd) that has produced fifteen Ian Rutledge and four Bess Crawford mysteries.
I'll be honest. This was a novel that I had to read since I'll be leading AHML book discussions on it in January and February 2013. I was pleasantly surprised how well-written and engrossing it was.
Elizabeth Crawford is a British nurse during World War I. She is the only daughter of a stalwart Colonel and supportive mother. She is attractive, intelligent, compassionate, and fiercely independent. She is the "son" that Col. Crawford always longed for.
Bess is aboard the hospital ship, Britannic, when it hits a mine and sinks. She severely breaks her arm in the process and is fortunate to survive. Before the ship went down, Bess, was falling in love with a wounded officer in her care...Arthur Graham.
On his deathbed, Graham made Bess promise to deliver this message to one of his remaining brothers: "...Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right..." Thus Convalescing Bess visits the dysfunctional home of the Grahams to fulfill her promise. What unfolds is a sorted tale of jealousy and betrayal.
All the characters were believable and the pacing of this book was marvelous. The 3-sentence mystery was perfectly composed and will challenge any reader who professes to be able to solve the most challenging of "whodunits."
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