Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Muskoka Trilogy #2
Publication Date: September 2012 (1st published 2008)
Book Source: Virtual Author Book Tours
Synopsis: It happened slowly at first. Thread by thread, the fabric of privilege and complacency enveloping the Wyndham family began to unravel. A carefree summer at their island house, disrupted by the arrival of long lost kin, ended in tragedy, betrayal, and war.
Now, in the compelling sequel to the acclaimed epic, The Summer Before The Storm, Ria and her friends find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
It's late summer, 1916. While some members of the Wyndham family revel in the last resplendent days of the season at their Muskoka cottage, others continue to be drawn inexorably into the "Great War", going from a world of misty sunrises across a tranquil lake to deadly moonlight bombing raids, festering trenches, and visceral terror.
For Ria, too many things have happened to hope that life would ever return to normal, that innocence could be regained. Caught in the vortex of turbulent events and emotions, she abandons the relative safety of the sidelines in Britain for the nightmare of France.
Her fate as an ambulance driver remains entwined with that of her summer friends, all bound by a sense of duty. Living in the shadows of fear and danger awakens the urgency to grasp life, to live more immediately, more passionately amid the enormity of unprecedented death. Together, their lives weave a tale of liberation and loss, evolution and redemption. Those who survive this cataclysmic time are forever changed, like Canada itself.
I loved The Summer Before the Storm so jumped at the chance to read book 2 in the Muskoka Trilogy, Elusive Dawn. Revisiting old friends was just part of the appeal, Gabriele Wills has once again combined impeccable research, actual events and real people with a finely embroidered story, poignant and vividly detailed.
Elusive Dawn picks up where The Summer Before the Storm finishes, focusing on the horror of the Great War, the physical & psychological cost, the loss of innocence. The letters between family & friends interspersed with the narrative added a sense of intimacy and authenticity that I adored.
- I loved the detail surrounding the role of women in WWI as ambulance drivers, nurses and VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment nurses) and the many who contributed on the homefront. Gabriele pays tribute to the courageous women of FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) with her WATS (Women's Ambulance and Transport Service) - this is the corps Ria joins.
- Sadly fascinating medical information, especially about shell shock and the difference between treatment of officers and the general ranks.
- I'd completely forgotten that The Great Influenza Pandemic (Spanish Flu) followed closely on the heels of the war - phenomenal loss of life after so much tragedy.
- I was completely ignorant of the Halifax explosion in 1917, the largest man-made explosion until the 1945 Hiroshima bomb.
Elusive Dawn has it all, everything I love about historical fiction. I can't applaud Gabriele Wills enough, it probably sounds trite but these characters feel like friends, I'm completely invested in their lives - I've shared their joys and sorrows, their tears, laughter and pain and I'm anxious to find out what's in store for them in the final book, Under the Moon.
Find Gabriele on Facebook or her Blog or follow her on Twitter and the Muskoka Novels website has some interesting reading. If like me you just can't get enough check out Gabriele's Odd, Intriguing, Surprising Facts About WWI website - seriously fascinating!
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See my review of The Summer Before the Storm
One copy of the book in print or on kindle/kobi. Winner in the US or Canada will receive their choice of print or ebook. International winner will receive the eBook version.
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Giveaway ends 20th February and winner will be announced on my blog.
Good luck everyone!
Thanks to Gabriele and Teddyrose of Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for my copy of Elusive Dawn.