The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale
By Charles Todd
William Morrow, 2012. 256 pgs. Fiction.
Charles Todd has always presented a uniquely beautiful and heartrending vision of Britain during and after WWI in both his Inspector Rutledge and Bess Crawford mystery series. In this stand-alone tale, Todd introduces us to Lady Elspeth Douglas, a young woman who joins the nursing corps after experiencing first-hand the desperate need for trained medical personnel on the front lines. Beyond the wearing work of caring for the dying, Elspeth finds herself caught up in the stories of both her fiance, Alain, an officer in the French army, and a young British officer, Captain Peter Gilchrist, whose bravery has become legendary behind the lines. It will take a Christmas miracle to help Elspeth see the blessings of all she has experienced in this pivotal year.
Even in when describing the most desperate of circumstances, Todd's lyrical prose is soothing and enchanting. His storytelling ability is unparalleled, transporting the reader to the front lines with ease and grace. Even though he is describing horrific events, he never uses sensationalism or violence to draw in the reader. The characters are compelling and interesting. It's a book that, when I put it down, I felt a little happier for having read it.