Annemarie Kendall is overjoyed when the armistice is signed and the Great War comes to an end. Her fiancé, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard, is coming home, and though he is wounded, she is excited to start their life together. But when he arrives, her dreams are dashed when she learns Gilbert is suffering from headaches, depression, and an addiction to pain killers. This is not the man she had planned to marry. After serving in the trenches, Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary is barely holding onto his faith. Putting up a brave front as he ministers to the injured soldiers at the hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he befriends Gilbert and eventually falls for Annemarie. While Annemarie tries to sort out her confused feelings about the two men in her life, she witnesses firsthand the bitterness and hurt they both hold within. Who will she choose? Will she have the courage to follow her heart and become the woman God intended her to be? As the world emerges from the shadow of war, Annemarie clings to her faith as she wonders if her future holds the hope, happiness, and love for which she so desperately longs.
When the Clouds Roll By is the first in a new series by Myra Johnson. It’s set shortly after the end of World War I in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a destination renowned for its healing springs and the former Army-Navy hospital. The location is used to good effect as Gilbert receives treatment at one of the many bath houses and Samuel ministers to the wounded who have been sent to the hospital. The Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918 to 1920 is also included in the plot line, with several scenes set around the hospital’s isolation unit. An important aspect of this novel is the highlighting of the difference between the physical and psychological wounds caused by the war. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was more commonly known as shell-shock and casualties were often badly treated by today’s standards.
Gilbert is not a likable character, even after seeing the error of his ways, and you have to feel sorry for the nurse who gets caught up in his schemes. In contrast, Sam comes across as an honorable man trying to keep Gilbert and Annemarie together while fighting his own feelings for her. There are a number of minor characters featured, including Annemarie’s father, Gilbert’s brother, and the indomitable Mrs. Ballard who can’t quite help looking down her nose at her would-be daughter-in-law’s decision to work outside of the home.
Fans of wartime romance should enjoy this first book in the Till We Meet Again series. The next one is called Whisper Goodbye and will be out next April. Gilbert is a main character again; I can only hope he’s a little more pleasant.
Thank you to Abingdon Press for my free Advance Reader Copy of When the Clouds Roll By, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 17 September 2013
Page Count: 352