The Secret of Raven Point
After losing their mother as children, Juliet DuFresne has always been close to her older brother, Tuck. When he decides to enlist after Pearl Harbor, she’s devastated but knows she must finish her schooling back home in South Carolina. When word arrives that Tuck has gone missing in Italy, Juliet becomes determined to search for him. She takes a crash course in nursing after graduating high school and finagles her way into a posting at a MASH unit near where Tuck was last seen. The work is grueling, and Juliet has little time to pursue leads, but she forges friendships with fellow nurses and one doctor in particular. When a patient comes in accused of cowardice and desertion, it becomes easy to see he is both physically and psychologically damaged… and may hold a key to what happened to Tuck. It becomes Juliet’s mission to communicate with the soldier, both to help him and learn as much as she can about her brother. Along the way, she develops a strong attraction to the doctor also working on the troubling case.
The Secret of Raven Point at first seems to be the mystery of a young man gone missing in World War II, but as the pages begin to fly by, the layers become deeper, and the characters’ emotions and actions become fraught with the desire to not only survive, but to live. As a young woman facing death on a daily basis, Juliet takes solace in the presence of the young physician with whom she works, and the two develop a deep relationship bred of a mutual desire to see the deserter exonerated of the charges. This novel had me wrapped in the lives of the couple, who endure much personal loss and yet manage to find humanity in the darkest of times. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.