Russia, 1854: the Crimean War grinds on, and as the bitter winter draws near, the battlefield hospitals fill with dying men. In defiance of Florence Nightingale, Rosa Barr - young, headstrong and beautiful - travels to Balaklava, determined to save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from Henry, her fiance, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol.
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(125mm x 142mm x 24mm)
Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
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US Kirkus Review »
An unusual and vivid historical novel tracks a feverish love triangle/mystery across the battlefields of the Crimean War.Freshness and energy drive McMahon's latest (The Alchemist's Daughter, 2006, etc.), which offers a socially alert tableau of mid-19th-century England as the background to an emotional drama, launched when Mariella Lingwood learns that her fiance, Dr. Henry Thewell, recently serving in the war against Russia, has fallen gravely ill. Mariella rushes to his side in Italy only to find him raving about her cousin Rosa, who had daringly joined the ranks of female nursing volunteers led by Florence Nightingale, tending the English soldiers fighting in Turkey as they suffered terribly from disease and fearful conditions. Rosa's war-front letters to Mariella have been almost as passionate in their avowals of commitment as Henry's, but has her cousin betrayed her after all? Mariella sets off for Constantinople to find Rosa and uncover the truth. McMahon depicts the battlefields as another shifting social panorama, this one shot with horror and corpses as well as issues of class and acceptable behavior. Here the story's momentum moves less dynamically, but over time Mariella, an unheroic heroine, learns to be of service, first to her sick servant, later to wounded soldiers. Still searching for her cousin, she falls in love with dashing Captain Max Stukeley and comes intuitively to understand Rosa's disappearance, while in the process awakening to a different sense of self.Marked by its passion and social commentary, this is a pleasingly unformulaic read, although its twin time frames and ending may not satisfy all readers. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Katharine McMahon
Katharine McMahon is the author of four novels. She has taught in secondary schools, performed in local theatre and worked as a Royal Literary Fund fellow teaching writing skills at the Universities of Hertfordshire and Warwick. She lives in Hertfordshire. Clare Wille has been working as an actress and voiceover artist since graduating from RADA in 1997. Her theatre credits include SEEING WITHOUT LIGHT and LOOK BACK IN ANGER. Her TV credits include SWINGING, BROKEN NEWS, GIRLS IN LOVE, HOUSEWIFE 49 and HEARTBEAT. She has read numerous audiobooks including Cranford for Naxos Audio and serveral titles for Orion.