The Walnut Tree
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
October 30, 2012
For those people who were born into the upper echelons of the classes in England
and Scotland, World War I was more than a war, it was a permanent change in their daily life. With the influences of the suffrage movement and the industrial revolution the lives of everyone were permanently and irrevocably altered. Gone were the days of the great houses with the downstairs staff meeting all the needs and desires of those born into the wealth.
Lady Elspeth, although orphaned, has lived a conventional life of the nobility, even though she is a ward of her uncle until her thirtieth birthday. However, she is given the freedom of an adult woman of class and wealth in her twenties while still having the closeness of her family, her cousins.
Being the year is 1914, Elspeth plans to go to France to assist her longtime close friend, Madeleine Villard with the birth of her first child. Henri, Madeleine's husband is distracted by the nearby German forces after the assassination of Kaiser Wilhelm as they invade Belgium and begin to occupy parts of France. Also, Elspeth has been attracted to Madeleine's brother, Alain, for years. Even though he is without a title, he does come from wealth. He gives her his mother's ruby ring as a promise to ask her uncle for her hand in marriage. As the men become involved in fighting, Elspeth wonders if she should go home.
After observing life in France, Elspeth feels the need to do more. She asks a nurse about how to become involved. Knowing the her uncle would not give his permission, Espeth hides her true rank and identity, as learns to become a competent and caring nurse. Spending much of her time near the battles in France, she is constantly looking for her family, Henri, and Alain.
The Walnut Tree is a novel about life during WWI from Elspeth's perspective. Seeing through the eyes of both the French and the Scottish gives an unusual viewpoint as the class differences begin to overlap in this changing time. This historical fictional novel is also is romance with the reader knowing from page one that Elspeth will get her man, just not which one.
Charles Todd is the name used by the mother/son writing team of Charlotte and Charles Todd. This team has written numerous historical mystery novels throughout the years that excel in placing the reader in the middle of their well-researched settings.
The Walnut Tree is a quick, but enthralling book that actually transports you to
another time and place. With believable characters and a strong sense of both time and place, this small novel is superb with the details of the time period.