I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.
Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.
In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.
On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.
To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.
The beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.
Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).
What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.
Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.
Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.
I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.
Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
- ASIN: B07PWF72XG
Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road
The Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.
After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.
She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.
Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.
©2019 V Williams