In Falling Snow

Sometimes I find little gems just by walking around the bookstore, not having read or heard any info about the book I eventually pick. This was the case with In Falling Snow by Australian writer Mary-Rose MacColl. There were quite a few copies on the shelf which indicated to me that they expected it to be a good seller. This is MacColl’s North American debut novel, and I’m sure it will be well received. It’s a great read. Australian nurse Iris Crane flees to France in 1914 in search of her 15 year old brother Tom who set off to join the first World War. She intends to bring him to his senses and escort him home. But the best laid plans often go astray. A chance encounter at a railway station with a female doctor leads her to the ancient abbey of Royaumont where she ends up working in a field hospital completely run by women. This book is based on historical fact, and it was fascinating to read. There really was a hospital completely run by women during WWI at Royaumont – imagine! Most places wouldn’t even let women into medical schools. Years later, elderly Iris, now back in Australia, receives an invitation to a reunion at the ancient abbey. Filled with memories of friends and hard work in sometimes appaling conditions, Iris attempts to convince those around her that she’s capable of trotting off to France to reconnect with a time that changed her family forever. This is a lovely book. As MacColl says in the Author’s Note – “I think it was Grace Paley who said that any story told twice is fiction.” This is historical fiction at it’s best.

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