Book Review & Giveaway ~ Band of Angles by Julia Gregson

Band of Angels: A Novel

Summary ~ Growing up in Wales, Catherine Carreg has been allowed to run wild, spending her childhood racing ponies along the beach with her friend Deio, the cattle-driver’s son. But Catherine is consumed by a longing to escape the monotony of village life and runs away to London with Deio’s help. Alone in the unfamiliar city, Catherine secures a position in Florence Nightingale’s home for sick governesses. As the nation is gripped by reports of war in the Crimea, Catherine volunteers as a nurse—and her life changes beyond all recognition. Arriving in Scutari, she is immediately thrown into a living nightmare. Amid the madness and chaos, Catherine is forced to grow up quickly, learning the hardest lessons of love and war.

Band of Angels by Julia Gregson is an epic novel of family, love, adventure and war.  Set against the backdrop of Wales, London and then in the midst of the Crimean War, heroine, Catherine Carreg grows before the reader’s eyes.  The first glimpse of Catherine is as a young girl, already with a mind of her own and an unbreakable will.  After a friendship is snuffed out by her strict, farming father and the sudden death of her beloved mother in a childbirth that left Catherine helpless as she watched her mother’s life drain from her body, Catherine vows to leave her home and find adventure by learning the art of nursing in London. 

Love is always a few steps behind her in the form of her childhood friend, Deio, but Catherine’s focus and determination to make something of herself under the guidance of the famed Florence Nightingale, “The Lady of the Lamp,” keeps her from her heart’s deepest desires.  Effects of the Crimean War (known in Britain as “The Russian War”) began reaching the ears of Londoners and the like.  Florence Nightingale is asked to put together a team of nurses to take with her to the British camp in Scutari in Turkey to assist and hopefully resolve the terrible hospital conditions that Britain’s soldiers are dying in.  

One of my favorite books growing up was an autobiography of Florence Nightingale.  I didn’t realize until reading Band of Angels and doing a little research on Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War that she was British and the soldiers she helped were injured in a war in Russia and the camp she worked at was in Turkey.  I guess I thought, since I was little, that it was the American Civil War and that she was American.  Sometimes when you are a child, your world doesn’t reach beyond your shores.   

If you are looking for more “meat” than the typical “beach read” usually has to offer this summer then be sure to pick up Band of Angels.  Some parts of the book are a gory read but the writing is great, the character development is substantial and you’ll learn a little history along the way.  If you are a fan of historical fiction, it’s a no brainer to read.  Thanks go to Stacy at Touchstone/Fireside for seeking me out and inviting me to participate in Julia Gregson’s U.S. release of her first novel, Band of Angels.  You can check out Julia Gregson’s web site HERE to learn more about her other book, East of the Sun.

If you would like a chance to win one of four copies of Band of Angels (thanks Stacy for sending me so many copies for a giveaway!!) then be sure to leave a comment on this post.  To make it fun (though winners will be selected randomly using please include the historical figure you enjoyed reading about the most as a kid along with your e-mail address.  This drawing’s deadline is Friday, May 21st at midnight EST.

{Rating 4 out of 5}