Publisher : Mindshadows, June 28, 2012
Category: Historical Fiction, WWI
Tour Dates: February, 2013
Available in: Print and ebook, 555 pages
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.
Impeccably researched, beautifully written, Elusive Dawn will resonate with the reader long after the final page has been turned.
Victoria (Ria) Wyndham Thornton is a woman ahead of her time; her strength and determination forged by heartbreaking loss and betrayal. But the war has affected the lives of so many people she loves, leaving no one in her family untouched in some way. Major Chas Thornton, Ria's husband and an Ace fighter pilot, is struggling to win back her love and trust while trying to stay alive.
Determined to help others, Ria joins the Women's Ambulance and Transport Service (WATS). Although this brings a purpose into her life, it also puts her in the thick of danger and exposes her to the horrors of war. Chas can't bear to see her putting her life in danger, especially when he thinks he's the reason. Love is powerful, but is it powerful enough to bring them back together? And, can they survive long enough to appreciate what they have?
The book is overflowing with characters that draw the reader into the story. The author does an amazing job of interlacing each of them together into a beautiful tapestry that showcases the strength of family bonds and the ultimate power of love. By far, Ria and Chas were the center of the story and they captured my heart the most. But, the women Ria meets at WATS and Zoe, Ria's cousin, were also favorites.
Gabriele Wills not only crafts memorable characters, she also expertly depicts the war and its effects on both the men at the front lines and the women waiting for them back home. Or, in Ria's case and several others, the women who can't bear to sit around and wait.
Although I read the first book in this series, The Summer Before the Storm, this book can easily be read as a stand alone. The author does a great job of filling the reader in on important relationships and background from the first novel, often through intimate letters. These letters were such an effective storytelling tool--giving us an intimate look into the characters and their emotional makeup.
I recommend this novel not only to historical fiction fans, but to readers who crave an emotional experience with characters who start to feel like family. I, for one, can't wait to follow these characters to the next book, Under the Moon. Until then, I will miss them.
Rating: 4 stars
NOTE: My review of The Summer Before the Storm can be found here.
About Gabriele Wills
The author of five highly acclaimed historical novels, Gabriele loves to recreate an era in which she can immerse herself (and readers), by weaving compelling stories around meticulously researched facts. Her characters are best friends, whom others are now calling “cherished friends”.
With degrees in the social sciences and education, Gabriele has had a varied career as an educator, literacy coordinator, and website designer, and has been an active community volunteer, particularly in heritage preservation. But writing fiction has always been her passion. Her first short story appeared in the Canadian Authors Association Winners’ Circle 5 Anthology. In 2001, she produced an award-nominated feature on CBC Radio’s "Outfront".
Born in Germany, Gabriele emigrated to Canada as a young child. She grew up in Lindsay, Ontario, enjoyed several years in Ottawa, and currently resides in Guelph with her husband. She is the proud mother of an accomplished daughter, with whom she is collaborating on an historical YA novel.
For more information, please visit her at Mindshadows, her Facebook page, and on Twitter.
Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours for including me on this blog tour. For more information, please visit the Elusive Dawn blog tour page.
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not guaranteed or requested; the opinions expressed are my own.