From Publishers Weekly
Gregson (East of the Sun
) takes the reader deep into the horrors of the Crimean War in this novel originally published and praised in the U.K. as The Water Horse
. Catherine Carreg is permitted extraordinary freedom as a child in Wales in 1844, including friendship with a local drover boy, Deio, until local gossip forces the end of their relationship. Catherine's mother dies in childbirth, and loathing the shallow life she's forced to live at home, Catherine concocts a plan with Deio's help to disguise herself as a boy and run away to London. Once there, Catherine lands a job in Florence Nightingale's home for sick governesses, then volunteers as a nurse in the Crimea while Deio, who owns her heart, joins the war effort as a soldier. Their separation and frightening reunion changes their lives and challenges their love. Gregson's journalistic eye for detail supports the power and connection between the couple as Catherine matures into a strong, driven yet compassionate woman. The stench of war is not softened, and the scenes of the battlefield are not for the fainthearted. (May)
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Gregson adeptly fashions the story of an intrepid young heroine who leaps directly into the pages of history when she runs away to London and joins Florence Nightingale’s “band of angels.” Trading in her tradition-bound Welsh roots for the elusive promise of independence and adventure, Catherine Carreg overcomes the odds by becoming a nurse and traveling to war-torn Crimea with her spirit and her illusions still intact. Unprepared for both the brutal reality of war and the primitive hospital conditions, she must call upon all her physical, emotional, and psychological reserves in order to conquer her fears and revulsion. A requisite romance is added to the mix when Catherine’s childhood sweetheart travels to Crimea to reclaim her heart. Adventure, action, passion: this vividly rendered historical saga has all the ingredients necessary to appeal to devoted fans of the genre. --Margaret Flanagan