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THE BEAUTY SHOP Kindle Edition
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|Length: 313 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
For those feeling a little lost, the novel's title is actually a reference to Ward III at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. Headed by Dr. Archibald McIndoe, the ward was tasked with the treatment of airmen who suffered disfiguring burns and/or crash related injuries in the line of duty. The work was challenging on its own, but it was complicated by the emotional instability of the patients and the staff was forced to turn to both the experimental and unorthodox in their effort to the restore the independence, self-image, and well-being of the men they served. Recognizing the humor of their situation, the airman likened themselves to guinea pigs and formed a mutual support network that would total more than six hundred by the end of the war. Their willingness to go under the knife led to revolutionary gains in the field of plastic surgery and gave rise to a legacy that is both extraordinary and humbling.
The Beauty Shop pays tribute to this lesser known chapter of the war by chronicling the fictional experiences of a young American pilot, his girl, and his surgeon. I personally found Mac and Stella interesting in their own ways, but it was Henderson's characterization of McIndoe and her recreation of his ward that set the book the apart in my eyes. I felt the author's illustration of the charismatic surgeon and his innovate approach to treating both the body and the mind fascinating and feel the narrative as a whole gives unique insight to war era medicine and the personnel at the forefront of its development.
Parts of the narrative, namely Stella's love life, felt needlessly complex and I think that Henderson could have done more with the supporting cast, but in looking back on the time I spent with the novel I think it safe to say that its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. Henderson has room to grow as a storyteller, but her debut release speaks to both the creativity and compassion of her pen and I for one can't wait to see how she'll channel those talents into her next project. Highly recommended to fans of light romance and world war historicals.
When I read the author's bio, I was not surprised that she had a career in healthcare. The medical parts of the novel are explored in depth. Henderson understands the pressures and the rewards of a military medic's life. She understands the loneliness, the stress, the need for humor, the frustration of dealing with obstinate patients, the temptation to get emotionally involved with them. The air battle scenes are also top notch. They are gorgeous, eloquent, striking, raw and just technical enough without sounding like they came from an air combat manual.
Now, romance is the weakest aspect of the novel. In fact, some passages sound like they were written by another author. Such an impressive piece of prose is speckled with pedestrian stock expressions that you would lift out of a romance. "Deep blue eyes", "butterflies in the stomach", "soft lips" and "I can't leave him at a time like this". Thankfully, those occurrences are not numerous. They made me wrinkle my nose a few times but not wince all the way.
I am not sure which aspect of the novel is prevalent. Is it a hardcore military history piece? Is it a field hospital drama? It's certainly not a historical romance. I wish the cover had more testosterone on it. I wish it showed an airplane or some surgical equipment as opposed to a girl in the middle of a field. You wouldn't know that it's a serious historical piece. I hope that WWII buffs do not pass on this novel because of the cover and the title. I do not have the heart to subtract stars from such a fine novel. I give it 4.5, but post 5 stars.
The scenes of life on the base and in the small English towns, including the weather, flow naturally. The reader is treated to the sights, scents and sounds of the English countryside, the hospital, and the B-17 bomber. Most impressive are the descriptions of Mac and his crew, and their experiences during air combat. They remind me of my own father's memories of his experiences as a gunner and radio operator on a B-24 based in Norfolk, England. Many did not return, and those who did, were haunted by the horror they saw. Mac is also reminded of the horror he is responsible for, when he sees the results of a German bombing of an English town.
The book shows how important the strength of love is in times of war. I found The Beauty Shop an enjoyable read, even though there were times when it dragged a bit due to some unnecessary plot contrivances. One of things I enjoy is learning something new, and this book delivered that with its story of Dr. McIndoe’s efforts. I am giving The Beauty Shop 5 stars for the author’s believable characters, her extensive research of World War II, and her connection with this information, which she has shared so well with her readers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
" This is a novel for those who enjoy wartime romances.Read more
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