Fans of the mother/son writing team known as Charles Todd will want to add this 'holiday tale' to their Christmas reading list.
I have only recently discovered Todd's WWI novels featuring Bess Crawford - a British World War I army nurse - but quickly became a fan of the series. Todd again explores WWI with a new character.
Lady Elspeth Douglas of Scotland is in France, visiting her fiancee, when war breaks out in 1914. She finds herself stranded, but decides to make herself useful, helping out with the wounded. It is on the battlefield that she comes across old friend Captain Peter Gilchrist. Lady Douglas decides to do her part for the war effort and become a nursing sister - known only as Elspeth Douglas. (Bess makes a cameo as a flatmate.)
Todd weaves a wonderfully rich, atmospheric story of love lost and found, duty, honour, loyalty, and the mores of the time period.
I chose to listen to The Walnut Tree and really enjoyed the reader - Fiona Hardingham. She employs a very proper British accent to narrate that conjures up the time period perfectly. Her Scottish accent for Elspeth was excellent and never faltered. I had a quite definite picture of Elspeth painted in my mind, much of it gleaned from Hardingham's interpretation. Other characters were easily differentiated as she has a quite a versatile voice.
Those looking for a mystery similar to Bess's books won't find it here. (But Elspeth is just as strong minded as Bess!) Instead it's a lovely little historical (and romantic) holiday tale, perfect for a night's read by the tree. Fans of Anne Perry's Christmas tales will enjoy The Walnut Tree.
Listen to an excerpt of The Walnut Tree. Read an excerpt of The Walnut Tree.
You can find Charles Todd on Facebook.