– The Magic of Wor(l)ds is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –
Today I’m delighted to be on the ‘Far Across The Ocean’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I’ll be sharing a guest post written by the author, but first I have some information
About the Author :
Award winning author Suzie Hull lives in Northern Ireland with her family and numerous rescue cats.
As a child she dreamt of being a ballet dancer but instead trained as a Montessori Nursery teacher and has spent the last thirty years working with children in a variety of settings. Suzie has always had an enduring passion for reading and history.
Suzie HulI won the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2022 with her debut novel, In This Foreign Land.
About the Book :
The answers to her past and present lie far across the ocean…
December 1913. Clara Thornton won’t allow being jilted at the altar to squash her spirit. Against the wishes of her aunt and uncle, Clara decides to travel to Madagascar to learn more about the tragic shipwreck that took the lives of her missionary family, and marked her forever.
Clara is escorted abroad by Xavier Mourain, a handsome young merchant who works with her uncle. The two of them start off on the wrong foot, but Clara can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious Frenchman who helps her unravel the mystery that has always haunted her. But as their love blossoms, war begins. And the world will never be the same again.
For Clara, all the answers seem to lie far across the ocean. But some of them might be closer than she thinks…
And now it’s finally time for the
Background of the novel
Hello Stefanie and thank you so much for hosting me on your wonderful blog.
My name is Suzie Hull, I live in Northern Ireland and I love writing WW1 Historical Romance. I thought your blog readers might be interested in learning about one of the settings in Far Across The Ocean.
I love Paris, I’ve visited many times and I really wanted to set part of this novel there so I started to research how I could weave an aspect of this city into the storyline. I’d already read about the American Hospital in Paris during WW2 and I decided to incorporate the same hospital during WW1.
There had been an American hospital in Paris for the many Americans that lived there and passed through since 1906, (with just 26 beds), but when WW1 was declared, the Board of Governors, led by U.S Ambassador Herrick offered their services to France. In exchange, the French government offered them the newly built but still unfinished Lycée Pasteur school at Neuilly. The month of August was spent getting the building finished and kitted out for the incoming patients that everyone knew would soon be arriving. It was now a military hospital with 600 beds, but at its largest it could accommodate 2,000 patients.
Initially the American government decided not to get involved in the European conflict but that didn’t stop men and women wanting to help and one way they could be involved was volunteering at the American hospital. Many Americans left immediately for Europe, including doctors, surgeons and nurses, but people who were already in Paris began immediately. It was the first foreign ambulance to be accepted by the French government to serve French soldiers.
I enjoy reading, especially non-fiction books and one of my favourite things is discovering interesting memoirs and diaries. I was delighted to find a memoir written by Marie van Vorst, an American writer who lived in Paris before the war. In her letters to friends and family she describes many scenes from which I was able to take details and incorporate them into the book. One of my characters volunteers as a nurse and whilst I wasn’t able to find accurate information on the exact process, I utilised the details I found in Marie van Vorsts’ letters. She attended Red Cross lectures in England whilst she spent time there during August and September and sat three exams. She was unable to volunteer for the British Red Cross as she was a ‘neutral’, but when she returned to Paris in early October, she went immediately to the hospital and volunteered personally to Mrs Vanderbilt. It is from her letters that I added the name and number of the gangrene ward, (Ward 69) and found a few details of other people who worked there. For example I included how female volunteers went down into the basement to roll bandages for the multitudes of patients they were expecting.
When the hospital originally opened, they went to the train station and met the hospital trains, then ferried the patients back to the hospital, but on September 9th, 1914, a call came through saying that there were over 1,000 injured soldiers stranded near Meaux, and could they help? Ambassador Herrick gathered up the vehicles they had and drove out to get the soldiers. This make-shift first convoy was the start of the American Ambulance.
To start with they only had eight ‘town and touring’ type motor vehicles to use when collecting patients from the railway stations, but they were given a donation of 10 Ford chassis from the Ford Automobile company in Paris and were able to kit them out as ambulances. The young men and women who drove the ambulances were incredibly brave, facing all kinds of danger so close to the front lines. Some of the young men ultimately went on to be soldiers themselves, especially after America joined the war in 1917.
Whilst I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers if people haven’t read Far Across The Ocean, I have woven into the story a young American who becomes one of the first ambulance drivers and a young woman who passes her Red Cross exams and starts work there early in September 1914 whilst the Battle of the Marne was just starting.
If you are interested in reading more, the first-hand account of Marie Van Vorst is available on Amazon, titled War Letters of An American Woman.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the background of my new novel.
If you do read it, please do leave me a review as it’s so helpful for other readers who might enjoy a WW1 romance to find me. If you’d like to keep up with any of my news please follow me on social media.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds