In Picardy’s Fields by Hannah Byron
ABOUT THE BOOK
Baroness Agnès de Saint-Aubin is a young Parisian doctor with a mysterious past.
She follows the attractive—but married—Dr. Alan Bell to the front lines at the Château de Dragoncourt in Picardy, where they help battle the horrors of the trench war. When the castle is captured by German soldiers, the war turns personal as Agnès’s secret becomes both a terrible liability—and a mighty weapon. Until Alan is severely injured and her world falls apart.
Countess Madeleine, the young go-getter of the Dragoncourt family, is furious that she’s been sidelined to a Swiss finishing school.
Knowing her place is in the thick of the action, she runs away to join her siblings who are working as medics at the Château. Upon learning that it’s fallen to the Germans, Madeleine is determined to effect a rescue of the French doctors and nurses held prisoner within. But what can a mere teenager do against the German army?
I love historical fiction with strong characters and when I received the author’s request to review her book, I jumped at the chance. In Picardy’s Fields is a memorable story about WWI and the courageous men and women who worked hard to save France from the German invasion.
Agnès is one of the first female doctors in 1918 who is working for the war effort and against her mentor’s better judgement she follows him to work on the frontline at Dragoncourt Castle now being used as a military hospital. Being united with her friends who live at Dragoncourt is a bittersweet reunion after seeing the ravages of war that has changed her friends and filled their home with injured soldiers. As they all do their part, the brave Agnès fights her feelings for the honorable American doctor Alan Bell, her colleague and mentor. When the danger gets too close, Agnès has to reveal her secret that could get them all killed.
Bored and antsy to be at her family home of Dragoncourt, Madeleine is a young aristocrat who foolishly runs away from her private Swiss school to be with her siblings in France. Miraculously, she makes it and becomes a great admirer of the beautiful, yet fragile doctor Agnès. When she becomes separated from the doctor and her staff due to a German invasion, she daringly becomes a part of the French resistance to save her friends and get her family home back.
I enjoyed the unique WWI historical aspect of this book with two very strong female protagonists. Though Agnès and Madeleine are two aristocrats, they have very different backgrounds. One who is reserved and driven with a questionable past, and one who is hardheaded and reckless with a penchant for adventure no matter how dangerous. Their bond is immediate as they try to stay alive and save many from dying in their own remarkable ways. I admire Agnès for working in a profession dominated by men. The respect she receives by both friends and foe is a testimony to her commitment as a doctor who takes her oath seriously. Madeleine is young and spoiled, but she doesn’t give a fig about modern conventions which is naïve, but incredibly brave. The supporting characters are also very important to the story as well. Dr. Alan Bell is a natural born leader who is incredibly principled and extremely supportive and protective of Agnès, Elle and Jacques, Madeleine’s twin siblings, are essential to the smooth running of the makeshift hospital housed in their home. And the distinguished and practical Major Gerry Thompson is the perfect compliment to Madeleine’s foolhardiness.
I recommend this excellent historical story with a captivating plot and diverse characters.
Thank you to Ms. Byron for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve written stories and poems, and I’ll write till my dying day. I became a published author in 2011, but in 2020 I decided to narrow my genre to Historical Fiction and launch my first four books in the Resistance Girl Series.
I have a fondness for history, heroines, and high stakes. So, these days you can often find me researching the world wars of the 20th century. I’m fascinated by that period and how it has shaped the world you and I live in today. Especially the opportunities for women. Think only of simple things as the right to vote!
Combining research with creating fictional stories about ordinary women who do extraordinary things is what I absolutely adore. If you’re interested in finding more about the golden nuggets of my archive digging, do check out my blog ‘Historical Facts & Fiction’.
My prose has been described as character-driven and descriptive. I’m heavily influenced by the early Russian, European, and American novelists… and by the stacks of Harlequin novellas I used to read. A cocktail of the absolute best with the quick & dirty is a favourite of mine.
It is my wish to captivate you with my European stories from a time when life was perhaps less rushed but certainly as complicated.
Hannah Byron (penname of Hannah Ferguson) was born in 1956 in Paris (Fr.). She is of British/Irish/Dutch descent and lives in The Netherlands. Next to writing historical fiction, she is a part-time translator for a Dutch university. Hannah has two grown sons and lost her 29-year-old daughter in 2014.