Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.
For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.
Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.
But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?
I knew when I came to read this book that it would be an emotional ride as I walked in the footsteps of such heroic and supremely inspiring women, but I was over-awed and whilst reading this book. I felt in so much awe of Gwen and her fellow nurses who did the most incredible job, these women were vital for the war effort. Jo-Ann Power has gone above and beyond with telling these extraordinary women’s stories, the depth of research is incredible at times it was like actually being standing right beside them. It painted an emotionally raw and brutally real picture of what these women went through.
I think what really struck me most when reading this book was just how little I knew about front line nurses from America. I think that being from the UK, we take all our meticulous record keeping via the archives and the War Graves Commission for granted and we tend to be a little ignorant to the fact that the Great War affected not just us on Europe and the common wealth but those from America also feature heavily, we just don’t really know about them. Which is why this book is so damn important, It is exactly what we need in this world and it is one of those rare books that will stand the test of time,
The story really follows one young nurse; Gwen – who is a hugely likeable character, a woman after my own heart she has spirit, determination, she has seen her fair share of troubles before she even goes into nursing, but those issues have made her the strong, reliable and passionate woman I found her to be. We first see her in nursing college where her and her close knit group of friends have fun between studies, once graduated they now face the real world. Unfortunately this world is now at war and Gwen soon finds herself facing all the horrors of the front, as she is sent to battled destroyed France.
This is definitely the most heart breaking part of the book what Gwen and her friends face day in day out is harrowing. The picture of that dark and soul destroying place is vivid and real, Ms Power has done an absolutely incredible job at portraying the scene with the utmost realism and respect and this is where the authors research and brilliant writing comes in to it’s own, she captures your attention through out the book and I can guarantee that there is times you will get a lump in your throat ad tears in your eyes.
Heroic Measures is an emotionally powerful read that will leave the reader in absolute stunned silence, it’s true, poignant and highlights an aspect of women’s history that I think a lot of us may have forgotten.
Very highly recommended one of the best books I have read and one that everyone should read.
This was a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Heroic Measures can be purchased at Amazon.