By The Hands Of Men is a WW1 drama set mainly in the Passchendaele area of Flanders. This small village north-east of Ypres is associated with the Third Battle of Ypres which took place in 1917.
Charlotte Braninov is a Russian nurse working in No. 12 Base Hospital in the thick of the battlegrounds. She works alongside Kathleen an American nurse and Alice a new English nurse. Charlotte is called to help at a Casualty Clearing Station, this is very close to the frontline fighting and is one of the first places the wounded arrive at. Working in terrible conditions they treat the men with little or no anaesthetic, sewing up wounds, amputating as necessary, shipping the men through as the centre is hit by debris and gas. Here she first meets Robert Fitzgerald, a gallant soldier who treats her like a Lady.
Later when Charlotte returns to the hospital base she is delighted when Robert gets a post as Hospital Supply Officer and a romance blossoms. However their friendship doesn’t go unnoticed, fellow nurse Alice is jealous and tries to de-rail their relationship and Matron steps in to make sure they can’t be accused of being improper.
As the war nears its end, Robert catches Typhoid and is very ill, finally being shipped home, but Charlotte is left broken-hearted when she hears nothing from him. At the end of the war Charlotte travels to London to work with Matron, but she finds Matron dying. She is also shocked at turns of political events in her homeland of Russia and finds that as a former member of “The Whites” she and her family are in danger. A chance meeting with Robert in London pushes her final decision to try to return to her family.
The story will continue, this is book 1 of a 4 book series and book 3 is due out May 2016.
This book is written in American English and the author has used literal licence when calling Robert The Duke Of Lesser Devonshire and noting a place called Dorshire, neither I believe exist in England. The writing could be tightened to improve the tension, emotions and engagement of the reader by reducing some of the longer sentences. I felt much of the dialogue was “clunky”, sometimes being used as an info dump of details, and lacked flow, with a tweaking of weaker dialogue tags such as he/she said/asked and using a wider range of the senses and body language this would improve the writing style.
A good storyline which would work better with a good re-edit as I’m sure the author’s writing style is vastly improving with experience.
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