First Sentence: At sea...the morning sun is lovely and warm.
Bess Crawford is an independent, upper-middle-call British gentlewoman who takes after her father. She became a nurse and travelled to the battlefields of France. On her way back to England aboard the Britannic, the ship strikes a mine and sinks. Bess suffers a badly broken arm but becomes fond of Lt. Arthur Graham who, right before dying, extracts a promise from her to deliver a message to his brother in England. Keeping that promise embroils her in a family surrounded by tragedy and secrets.
It is always interesting when an author you love begins a new series. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. In this case, it definitely worked.
Bess is a great new character. She is representative of many woman of her class; smart, independent; strong and with a belief that woman can be as capable as men. She has seen the results of war and knows the impact it has on the men who fight. It is also typical of the time that Bess is constantly asked whether she was in love with each young many of her acquaintance as people can't otherwise understand the courses of action she takes.
Todd provides a very strong sense of time and place with just a hint of a gothic feel. At the same time they make strong statements about the impact of war and the lack of understanding of those who stay at home. Their writing is very effective and can go straight to the emotions and the heart.
There were a couple small false steps. The story was a little slow getting started and Bess' reaction to the sinking of the ship seemed a bit too detached. There were a few portent--a writing element I really dislike--and a characters who had been locked in an asylum since being a young boy was much to intelligent and street-smart to be quite believable.
I very much enjoyed Bess and hope to see ore of both her and her father, whom I very much liked. I look forward to more books in this series.
A DUTY TO THE DEAD (Hist Mys-Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford -England-WWI/1916)- G+
Todd, Charles - 1st in series
William Morrow, 2009, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9780061933844