Maggie Marshall keeps her father’s legacy alive by continuing to keep his restaurant open during wartime in 1940s Manitoba. She also houses and hires single, pregnant women sent into her care by their embarrassed parents until the women can give birth and have their babies adopted. When Maggie receives news that her has husband died in battle, she shows no emotion, and her current charge, Charlotte, is convinced that she has no feelings whatsoever. Under the deluded impression that her child’s father, a soldier stationed at the other side of Canada, will want them both, Charlotte escapes to board a train east to tell him of the impending birth. Maggie discovers that she does care, very much, and borrows a car to follow Charlotte’s route, but her decision comes at a price. Reverend Reuben Fennel, a gentle and well-meaning childhood friend of Maggie’s, insists on traveling across the country to help her find the very pregnant Charlotte and talk sense into her. The trip brings forth many more feelings than Maggie anticipated, ones that the Reverend has kept in his heart for many years.
The author has created beautifully rounded characters. As the chapters unfold, the reader better understands what demons Maggie is battling on the home front. It is interesting to see her letting down her defensive walls and enjoying her awakening feelings of trust and maternal caring. Sometimes it takes a patient, loving person to put the past where it belongs. I recommend this novel of people’s struggles on the Canadian home front.