About the book~
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.
Sharing my thoughts~
Ceramist Annemarie Kendall couldn't be happier when WWI comes to an end and her fiance is on his way home, but from his recent letters, she knows the war's changed him. What she doesn't know is if he'll still love her and want to marry her. After an injury that leaves him feeling dependent and less masculine, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard isn't sure he want to return home to Hot Springs. Bitter and in constant pain, the last pill he wants to swallow is pity on his fiance's face.
Johnson sets up a robust conflict when Gilbert talks to Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary about his dilemma over Annemarie while on the ship headed home.
"He studied the girl in the portrait and realized with sudden certainty that if things were different--if he were coming home to a woman like Annemarie--he'd fight harder for her love than any doughboy ever fought on the Western Front."
After hearing Gilbert's intentions, how can Samuel help but fall a little in love with Annemarie before he ever sets eyes on her? And then when he meets her, she's more lovely and sweet than he imagined. But Samuel's suffering his own crisis, a result of the war.
"If he could just be certain God still listened. If he dared to hope the doors of heaven hadn't been barred against him for eternity."
Gilbert tends to be a bit cranky at times, but in my book, he's still a hero because of the pain he's in and the suffering he endured. Samuel refuses to move in on Gilbert's territory, and insists that Gilbert not make any foolish, rash decisions. I won't tell you which man I was rooting for. You can make your own choice. But I will admit to being very satisfied with the ending. :)
While this story is fictional, the characterization was so life-like and the conflict so believable. I can imagine similar scenarios happening back then, even now. Men and women still return home from war, scarred emotionally and physically.
While I'm not a huge history buff, I enjoyed how the author tucked in little nuggets of historical goodies, like how people conserved food during World War I. That, plus the tidbits about Hot Springs and the nice sub-plot that ran through the book made the story so rich and complex.
Although this book is a hefty 338 pages, I finished it in only a couple sittings. After being forced to put it down the first time (you know, sleep, work, life...), I wasn't going to put it down again until I found out who won Annemarie's heart. When the Clouds Roll By is a winner, and I'm excited that there's another two books in the series!
Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to Myra Johnson, Abingdon Press and NetGalley for sending me an advance review copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased opinion. This review is my opinion, and I received no compensation.
Labels: #bookreview, Abingdon Press, fiction, historical, homecoming, Myra Johnson, NetGalley, romance, war, war tragedies, When the Clouds Roll By, WWI