The Walnut Tree: Book summary and reviews of The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd

The Walnut Tree

A Holiday Tale

by Charles Todd

The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd X
The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2012
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

"I was in Paris the day the French Army was mobilized."

In 1914, while visiting her friend Madeleine, Lady Elspeth Douglas's life is thrown into chaos when war breaks out and the Germans quickly overrun Belgium, threatening France. Having just agreed to marry Alain, Madeleine's dashing brother, Lady Elspeth watches him leave to join his unit, and then she sets out for England, only to find herself trapped on the French coast.

Caught amid a sea of stranded travelers, terrified refugees, and wounded men overflowing the port of Calais, the restless Elspeth—daughter of a Highland aristocrat whose distinguished family can trace its roots back to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots—decides to make herself useful, carrying water to weary soldiers near the Front. It is an act of charity that almost gets her killed when enemy shells begin to explode around her.

To her rescue comes Captain Peter Gilchrist, who pulls her away from the battle and leads her to safety. But before they can properly say good-bye, Elspeth and Peter are separated.

Back in London, surrounded by familiar comforts, Elspeth is haunted by the horrors she witnessed in France. She also cannot forget the gallant Peter Gilchrist, even though she has promised herself to Alain.

Transformed by her experience, Elspeth goes to London and enrolls in a nursing course, where she meets a fellow nurse in training, Bess Crawford. It is a daring move, made without the consent of Elspeth's guardian, her cousin Kenneth, a high-handed man with rigid notions of class and femininity.

Yet Elspeth Douglas is a woman with a mind of her own, which—as she herself says—is a blessing and a curse. She is determined to return to the battlefields of France to do her part . . . and to find the man she has no right to love, no matter how far Cousin Kenneth may go to stop her. But before she can set things right with Alain, he goes missing and then Peter is gravely wounded. In a world full of terror and uncertainty, can the sweetness of love survive or will Elspeth's troubled heart become another casualty of this terrible war?

A poignant, compelling tale brimming with adventure, danger, and love, The Walnut Tree is an enchanting holiday gift and a wonderful companion to Charles Todd's acclaimed Bess Crawford series.

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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

The Walnut Tree
Alain told Lady Elspeth Douglas not to worry as he went off to fight and she stayed home with his ring on her finger because the war would be over by Christmas. Little did they know that the war would NOT be over by Christmas.

Lady Douglas decided that she didn't want to just sit around and wait so she joined the Nursing Sisters...she meets Todd's famous Bess Crawford during this time. Since Lady Douglas was born and raised in a privileged household, it was unheard of for a woman of her class to join the nursing profession and treat wounded men. It was stated that anyone of her class wouldn't be acceptable as a wife to a gentleman if she was part of the nursing sisters. She thought otherwise. To avoid being turned down, she kept her title a secret when she applied to become a nurse.

The book follows Elspeth through her duties as a nurse in France and England during WWII. Of course, she met someone else even though she was engaged to Alain....this theme was the main part of the book. You will find out how she handles this situation and each situation that occurs whether the situation is traveling alone on trains and boats filled with soldiers, visiting relatives, or nursing.

The book is mixed with this love story and war. Mr. Todd takes the reader into the hospitals and gives details about the surgical and nursing units and the unpleasant tasks carried out by the nurses and doctors. He also brings the reader into the thick of the heartbreak, disasters, and ugliness of war. Elspeth's love story has a culminating scene under a walnut tree that binds her and her true love.

I enjoyed the book, but it was a bit of a tedious read. You will want to keep reading, though, because you will want to find out how the love part of the story turns out. WWII history buffs will love all the details that Mr. Todd so exquisitely and brilliantly knows how to portray. My rating is 4/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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Author Information

Charles Todd Author Biography

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI ...

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