REVIEW: Magnificent Farewell by Karen J. Hasley
In 1917, Meg Pritchard is a woman on the run. What better place to hide than a country at war? France, ravaged by the bombs and battles of World War I, is exactly where Meg plans to disappear. But while Meg may be running away from, she’s also running to ~ to new friends and new loves, to redemption, and to life with purpose. To a new life altogether. Maybe there’s hope for Meg’s future, after all – if only she can make peace with her past.
Dear Ms. Hasley,
This is a difficult book to grade. With a heroine who isn’t always easy to like and against the backdrop of brutal war, there were times when I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what came next. Until I was a bit into the book and then I couldn’t put it down because I just had to know what happened next. Let me say I didn’t see a lot of what was coming, guessed a few things but still enjoyed watching the story play out.
Meg Pritchard puts a person at arms length very deliberately. Still she finds that on her way across the Atlantic and then once she arrives in France, two people won’t let her push them off. Young Lucy Rose March, a nurse going to work in a field hospital, and Mac Chesney, a US Army captain who keeps turning up where he shouldn’t be, keep seeking Meg out. Before she knows it, Meg has been commandeered from helping deliver medical supplies to field hospitals into driving ambulances of wounded men from the front lines.
As she does so, Meg finds herself confronted by the horrors of the Great War in the form of screaming, mutilated men, shattered towns, rutted and muddy roads, and destitute, hopeless evacuated French civilians shuffling away from the wreck of everything in their lives. Yet she also finds a purpose and discovers that she’s handy with baling wire needed to hold a battered truck together. As the longed for (by the Allies) American soldiers begin to enter the line, she watches her countrymen become the chewed up carnage that finishes the war.
But more awaits her as her past finally catches up to her and she has to face one more challenge.
First let me say brava in making me root for Meg. There are times when the words “prickly” and “cold” don’t begin to do her personality justice. She can be blunt, standoffish, and off putting even at the best of times. She’s also tireless, determined, and brave. Maybe that’s what makes Lucy stay her friend and slowly work her way under Meg’s guard. Then there’s Mac who appears to have fallen in love with Meg even if Meg doesn’t return his feelings.
Things really got interesting when Meg goes home and what had only been hinted at through the first section of the book is revealed. Some of this didn’t surprise me but how it all plays out certainly did. There are things about Meg that are not easy to accept. Meg’s attitude doesn’t change though which delighted me. Meg remains Meg through the whole book and despite how frail and delicate Meg’s mother might seem, that woman has hidden depths which show a lot of where Meg gets her strength.
I went back and forth about how I thought the book would wrap up almost to the very end. Given how often it’s easy to predict “what will happen next” in a lot of books, I love stories that can keep me guessing. Some people will dislike Meg from the get-go. Some won’t approve of how the book ends but I give major kudos for keeping me hooked and presenting a woman of uncompromising strength. B+
These are some important spoilers and to maintain the surprise of the store, I would urge people not to read them unless what I’ve written in the last paragraph worries them.
Spoiler (Spoilers): Show