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on 3 March 2014
The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes has a grim setting with a world ravaged by war, desperation, bare survival and anguish during World War II. The main focus of the story is not about the evils of war but its impact on the physical and mental well-being of the men who played leading roles by fighting in the frontlines. It is a story that captures the horror, pain, heartbreak and trauma of a world that is at war.

The central character in the story is Juliet Dufresne whose carefree life has been interrupted by the events of the war. After her brother Tuck writes to her pleading for help, he was reported missing in action while fighting in the Italian campaign. A desperate Juliet volunteers herself as a nurse lying about her age. Serving in a hospital north of Rome, Juliet learns a lot more than what she bargained for. There are other characters who played prominent roles though the focus of the book is on Juliet. One such person is a soldier named Christopher Barnaby who has been broken and shattered to the extent that he contemplated suicide, followed it through and still survived. Fate seems to have a plan for him, though his first stop after the failed suicide bid was to face a court martial. And Juliet pins her hope of finding her brother on him as he may be one of the last person to see her brother.

Then there is the military psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Willard, who treats soldiers in the hope of giving them hope in the midst of the war. Another important character in the story is the chaplain who at times must decide what is more important – the spiritual or physical, as soldiers are dying around him. And finally, The Secret of Raven Point is the story of ordinary soldiers who must fight to live another day – some days some made it, but most days many don’t.

The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes is not only a sweeping historical novel about war but an entertaining coming-of-age novel as well. It is delightfully refreshing, and keeps the reader guessing to the very last page. This is a compelling and horrific book that will take you right into the heart of the story.
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on 29 June 2016
I wish she had written more. It would be easy to dismiss this as chick lit, but it has serious content.
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