I had the privilege of attending a book release party last weekend. It was for a very special book. It is a work of fiction that is set in a very real place. It is not very often I get goosebumps from listening to someone read a book, but when the author read from her work, I had to blink back tears. When I got home in the afternoon, I dug in and stayed up far too late reading, and then woke up and read the last bit over breakfast.
This is one of those books that you wish was longer. You don't want to say goodbye to the characters at the end and you think about them for days afterward.
OK. Enough gushing. What the heck is this book about??
It is about a teenage girl , Marie-Claire who lives in a tiny town in Southern Manitoba in the early 1940s. She has to work hard to help out on her family farm because all of the able-bodied men are overseas fighting in WW II. The town is in the shadow of a Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Marie-Claire's family is further turned upside down when her visiting uncle infects the children in the house with TB. She is sent to the San with her siblings to "chase the cure." The story then turns to life in the Sanatorium.
(Before modern drugs were developed it was believed that the best chance for a TB patient was complete rest, good food, and dry prairie air--extreme TB cases were treated with very risky surgical procedures. People often spent many years in Sanatoriums chasing their cures.)
The author is very precise with her descriptions since she grew up in a Sanatorium environment as the daughter of the head surgeon. She writes with a great depth of feeling and emotion. At the book release I met many former employees of the Sanatorium that this book is based around. My grandma read the book and she said it took her right back to the days when she visited her own sister there after The War. My great great(?) aunt was a telephone operator and spent months in a musty basement in England and came home with TB. She was one of the lucky ones who overcame her disease by spending several years at the San.
I love books that can take you right back to a specific time and place. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn did that for me. So did The Time Traveler's Wife (please, read the book--avoid the movie at all costs). If you are looking for something wonderful to read please, give Queen of Hearts a try.