The Ukraine, Russia and the Crimea are taking centre stage in the world today but this spellbinding story of courage and love takes us back to the original Crimean war. 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.
As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella's ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love.
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(197mm x 135mm x 27mm)
Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Country of Publication:
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 studied English and Drama at Bristol University. She has worked as a teacher in schools and universities, as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow supporting student writing, and has run national training courses. She is involved with local theatre and lives with her family in Hertfordshire. Visit her website at katharinemcmahon.com