Winter Soldier
by Mason, Daniel

A young doctor and nurse fall in love while navigating the brutal realities of World War I at an underequipped and understaffed field hospital in the Carpathian Mountains.

Daniel Mason is a physician and author of the novels The Piano Tuner and A Far Country. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages and adapted for opera and theater. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, he is currently a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, where he teaches courses in the humanities and medicine. He lives in the Bay Area with his family.

Their love was impossible in more ways than one. A medical student from Vienna sent to a makeshift hospital during WWI is instantly amazed by the no-nonsense nun who had been nursing injured soldiers with little help for months. Lucius' medical-school training-attending lectures and reading books-did almost nothing to prepare him for the horrors of tending to shell-shocked soldiers, not to mention the plague of lice and rats all around; but as Sister Margarete gently guides him, their relationship slowly grows into something deeper. Beyond the constant threat of the ever-shifting front and Margarete's own vows, however, the arrival of one patient who seems almost beyond rescue will test them severely. A sweeping story of love found and lost, steeped in medical details that reveal the full horrors that ill-equipped doctors and nurses faced over years of vicious trench warfare, The Winter Soldier is a vivid account of one man caught up in the epic forces of war, who desperately fights against the tides of change in search of redemption. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A novel of love, war, and medicine set during the grim final two years of World War I. Medical student Lucius Krzelewski, born in Vienna to a well-to-do Polish family, is pressed into service as a doctor in the desperate year of 1914. He reports to an improvised field hospital—actually a church—in Lemnowice, located in a remote section of the Carpathian Mountains in eastern Europe, and there is expected to do far more than his modest clinical experience has trained him for. Up till that point he had never operated, and one of the two cures he had effected involved a patient with impacted earwax, but now he faces soldiers dying of typhus and needing amputations. In part assisting him, but largely teaching him, is Margarete, a nurse from the Sisters of St. Catherine. The medical tasks she performs are both complex and wearying, but gradually she tutors Lucius, and he gains more confidence in the difficult operations he must perform in appalling conditions. Mason the n turns the narrative in a direction we've come to expect, for love and war are intimately connected: Lucius and Margarete become lovers, and a halcyon period ensues in which their romantic liaison briefly disengages them from some of the traumas of war. But one day Margarete disappears, and in following after her, Lucius gets entangled with the moving front of the war. He eventually makes his way back home, has a brief and unsatisfactory marriage, and then tries to find his long-lost love. Along the way he must deal with a major mystery—whether she in fact had been a nun at all. Mason's contribution to war literature involves almost no depiction of fighting but rather its aftermath, the tragically scarred soldiers, and the almost equally traumatized caregivers who sacrifice their health in providing medical help to the wounded. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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