Publication Date: 10/15/19
Number of Pages: 208
It is official, I’m an idiot. I don’t normally read books past the 1890s and I don’t go out of my way to read Christmas books – so, I almost passed this one by. That would have been a big mistake – because I think it might be the very best book I’ve read all year. This isn’t just a Christmas romance, it is an EPIC love story. It portrays two people facing the hardships and horrors of war, yet finding peace and love with each other.
Corporal Henry William Wheatley was sick of war, the smell of blood and death, losing friends and fellow soldiers, he was tired of the constant damp, darkness, and rain. His soul was weary, yet he knew he had to do his best to train and protect the men in his squad, the men – boys really, some of them – for whom he was responsible. One day as he was heading down the Somme River, he was trying to clean the dirt and grime from the bible his grandmother had sent over with him – and the bible dropped into the river and floated downstream. He saw a woman fish the bible out of the river and continue down a side stream. Since she couldn’t hear him calling to her, he had the boatman follow her.
Rosemarie Legrand lived in les hortillonnages, the floating gardens of Amiens. It is a tangled maze of islands and canals in the river. She had a little cottage there and she could travel into Amiens in her barque if she needed to go there. But she only went if she had to do so. Her husband had accused her of being a Nazi sympathizer just before he was killed – simply because she had saved a young boys life. Now, with her husband dead, her sister-in-law won’t let it rest. She had found that boy floating in the river at about the same place she’d found the bible today – things seemed to get stuck there.
Rosemarie was certainly surprised to see yet another barque dock at her landing – this one with a tall, handsome military man in it. It was his bible she’d found. They spent time talking and since he could never dry the book in the nasty, wet trenches, she kept it to dry it for him. Through all of the battles and horrors of the war, Henry would always manage to find his way back to Rosemarie’s little cottage.
This author’s research and grasp of the facts of whatever period she’s writing about is outstanding. Her descriptions of the battles and conditions surrounding Henry and Rosemarie will tear your heart out and make you hold your breath. You might wonder how in the world that could create a wonderful Christmas story and a wonderful love story – just know that it does. During Henry’s deepest, darkest battles and struggles on the front lines, memories of Rosemarie and her son Marcel give him hope and bring a little light into his darkness.
It is a beautiful tale of love, steadfastness, resilience, and perseverance. I loved getting to know Henry, Rosemarie, and Marcel and I hope you will as well.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.