Since ALA annual has come and gone, it is hard to think back to Midwinter in Denver. It was there that I picked up a galley of Gifts of War, the new novel by historian Mackenzie Ford. I challenge any historical fiction lover to read this blurb and not be intrigued:
During the Christmas Truce of 1914, Hal Montgomery, a British soldier, is given a photo by a German soldier, Wilhelm Wetzlar, and they make a pact. Hal promises to find his enemy’s English girlfriend, Sam, and let her know her fiancé is alive and thinking of her. Several weeks later, Hal—now injured—is discharged from the army and goes to Stratford on Avon to fulfill his promise. But things take an unexpected turn when he meets the woman in the photo and falls in love with her himself.
Good, right? Of course I had to start reading it that night. I often find that books written by professional historians feel the most steeped in reality because, well, they are. Despite some issues I had with some of the dialogue, this book was thought-provoking and interesting – particularly parts related to the inner-workings of British intelligence during the first World War. With so many novels and books pertaining to WWII, this one was a nice change of pace and while I wasn’t sure what I thought of the characters (you know, the inner dialogue of “Do I like them?” or “Do I feel sorry for them?” etc. etc.) the ending of the book definitely stood the entire story on its head and left me contemplating after I closed it. Read it and then let me know what you think!