Author: R.V. Doon
Publisher: self published
Type of book: WWII, Philippines, Bataan, nursing, Germans, discrimination, internment camps for Germans, Germany, last days, 1941-1945, imprisonment, prostitution, selling body, abuse, loyalty
Year it was published: 2014
The War Nurse is a historical family saga and epic military romance set during WWII.
This historical thriller begins on the eve of WWII in the Philippines. Katarina Stahl an American Red Cross nurse, is the happiest she’s ever been in her life. She’s making love and playing music with Jack Gallagher in an idyllic paradise. Their medical mission is over, the boat tickets to home are purchased, and all that remains is to fly a sick child to the hospital at Clark Air Field.
She never expected to witness bombs falling out of planes. In those terrifying first minutes, she frees a German doctor accused of spying and saves his life. She turns to nursing the injured, unaware she’s unleashed an obsession more dangerous to her and those she loves, than the war she’s trapped in.
Doctor von Wettin, the man she freed, finds Katarina pregnant and starving in a POW camp after the surrender. He begs her to nurse his bed-ridden wife. She knows other Americans will despise her, but wants her baby to live after surviving Bataan. Their uneasy alliance is destroyed when she discovers he exploited Red Cross diplomatic channels and contacts at the German embassy to wire money to her parents. His benevolent mask slips when he informs her that her brothers and parents are interned on Ellis Island.
When the Stahl family is swept up in the FBI’s dragnet, Josep Stahl believes it’s all a misunderstanding. He’s interrogated like a criminal at the city jail, a military camp, Ellis Island, and then the civilian internment camps in Texas. His anger and pride blind him. One by one in this painful family drama, his wife and sons join him behind barbed wire in. There they face ostracism, segregation, and, most frightening, repatriation.
Katarina begins an even more terrifying journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The doctor threatens everyone she loves: infant son, POW husband, and Filipino friends. She’ll do anything to protect them; she lies, steals, and smuggles. As the war turns against the Japanese, they withhold the doctor’s wife’s life-saving medications until he finds a hidden radio inside the civilian internment camp. If Katarina refuses to help him, her son pays the price.
Survival has corrupted Katarina; but she’s not about to become his camp rat. After years of hell, she’s earned her nickname, war nurse. Doctor von Wettin is about to find out what that means.
There are a lot of characters, but ones that I will focus on are Katarina, a strong and brave female nurse of German heritage who tries to re-learn what she has done wrong and is doing the best she can for whoever she can no matter how reviled she becomes to others. Josep is Katarina's father who neglected to mention he's an alien and often claims to be from Switzerland, where he gets caught and has to travel to German internment camps where he witnesses Nazism and hatred and wants for his children to stay away from this philosophy. There is also Johanna, Katarina's mother who is caught in melancholy and depression as well as Katarina's various siblings. There is Jack who is Katarina's sunshine and von Wettin, a German man who is the villain of the story.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure of the message that the book is trying to send because there seems to be a lot of focus on everything from survival to learning lessons to discrimination and so forth.
The story is told in third person narrative from both Katarina's and Josep's points of view and stretches from 1941 to 1945 and takes place in both Philippines and America. I do feel that the characters should have been developed a bit more because I had some trouble connecting or understanding Katarina, and I do wish that more would have been explained between Katarina and her twin sister instead of just glimpses. But what does work in the story are the privations and details that enrich the setting of Philippines in WWII as well as story of Josep and his struggles. Also, a number of things aren't well explained such as what exactly happened to Franzisca, or von Wettin's motivations or designs on Katarina.
(From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)
Buy the Book
In a lot of ways this is an important book for a lot of people to read about, as well as to become familiar with. During WWII, the ugly things that were done to enemy citizens were squashed and only too recently did the generations after WWII become familiar with them, notably the internment camps for Japanese. In The War Nurse, the author mentions an important aspect that is not talked about, or is only briefly hinted at at My Summer of German Soldier: camps and mistreatment of German-American citizens, which is shocking to learn, at least for me. While the story itself is page turning and exciting and keeps the reader wanting to find out what happens next, I have to say that its not well connected as I hoped, and between focal plot points, there are a lot of gaps which added some struggle to reading the story. But still, its a mesmerizing book on surviving in Philippines during WWII.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
The War Nurse Blog Tour Schedule3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)