Helen and Wils meet at Harvard. They fall in love. But this is not going to be smooth sailing. They are on opposite sides of a great divide. Wils is German and his mother is pressurizing him to return. Anti German sentiments in America are now high and the few Germans who are around know that they are under suspicion of being spies.
The story of Helen and Wils and other characters which form the story are all highly individualistic people. Each one carries within them a little story, which forms the whole so we have Ryan a cousin of Wils, Copeland the Professor an integral part of the story and Helen's parents who have formed her and guided her amongst many other characters.
The story moves from America to Belgium to Germany and back to America again. We also move forward in time seventeen years later and it is bitter sweet. Memories of times past evocative of a time long gone and the futility of war and why we fight these wars. An entire era has passed before the reader's eyes - changes brought about by this Great War are far reaching - especially on the social level.
I am finding it difficult to review this book as there was so much to love. From the harsh biting reality of war in frozen Belgium, to the warmth and affection of comrades during the war, to the overwhelming love story of Wils and Helen and the story of Harvard overshadowing it all, this was a wonderful debut novel.
I was sad when I finished the book and only hope there will be more coming from this author.
I was very lucky to win this one from Sourcebooks.