Four very different men and women--Polly Warden, embittered surgeon Paul Lebrun, General Malvern Hill Bliss, and beautiful and manipulative expatriate Louise Wolcott--find their lives irrevocably altered by the horrors of World War I. Reprint.
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Historical novelist Fleming (The Officer's Wives, 1981; Time and Tide, 1987, etc.) offers a melodramatic saga set against the backdrop of the First World War. American Polly Warden, an incipient feminist and active pacifist, turns down marriage to a millionaire to go off to Paris in 1917, seeking nobility in the ravages of war. As a nurse in a French hospital, she becomes romantically involved with a disillusioned young surgeon, in large part as defense against the horrifying reality of the front lines. After the doctor's tragic death, his very rich father tries to use Polly's pacifist background as part of a secret plan to surrender his country to Germany (there was a great internal struggle about whether to continue the war effort in France in the months just prior to the arrival of the American forces). Instead, she ends up working as a counteragent on behalf of Clemenceau (sacrificing much of her reputation in the process), then becomes an ambulance driver, first for the British, later for the Americans. All of this intertwines her life with that of General Malvern Hill Bliss, who has been rescued from incipient alcoholism and self-destruction (brought on by the loss of his wife and son in the Philippines) by ``Black Jack'' Pershing and put in charge of the Lafayette Division, one of the first American units in Europe. Bliss, aided in no small part by the insights of the beautiful Englishwoman Anita Sinclair, sees through the politics and hypocrisy of British and French commanders who want to misuse American forces, but he's powerless to do much about it. As the war reaches its bloody climax, he can only send his men to die needlessly. An intriguing enough story of an emerging new world (and most especially of a new and modern-style woman), but even Fleming fans will have to be willing to plow through an abundance of pedestrian and (especially in matters sexual) awkward prose. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Issues of life, death, honor, glory and the futility of war are given lip servce in this saga of WW I from the author of the bestselling Time and Tide. Set on the Allied front in France and grimly cataloguing countless atrocities there, the novel focuses primarily on the fortunes of nurse's aide Polly Warden as she changes from a wide-eyed, idealistic young woman into a shell-shocked and weary cynic. A recent Wellesley graduate with a major in French, Polly sails for the Continent determined to do her part, and is soon working at the front in a job described to her as "tres difficile et tres dangereux." Danger and difficulty notwithstanding, Polly begins a love affair with Dr. Paul Lebrun, a brilliant but desperately disillusioned French surgeon who speaks repeatedly of "le cafard," an affliction of the soul that "resonates hunger, cold, the blood of brothers and foes." Following the war-complicated romances of Polly and others, including Gen. John J. Pershing, Fleming traces a cast of flat, stock characters (the leader, the spy, the poet, the foot soldier) through an uninspired, formulaic plot. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Harpercollins (Mm), 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 61090344
Book Description Harpercollins (Mm), 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0061090344
Book Description Harpercollins (Mm), 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110061090344
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800610903491.0