When I first researched for my historical romance A Soldier’s Vow, I discovered so many interesting facts about the French country during one of the most terrifying periods in their long history. The German army had easily invaded the Northern part of France and often bombarded Paris but never succeeded in penetrating the city’s walls. Nonetheless, the city had been hit in other different and equally devastating ways.
Blackouts, food shortages and influenza affected everyone. Through my research, I discovered many families could no longer afford to keep their children fed, therefore they sent the weakest members of their family to their relatives in the country or other safer places. In A Soldier’s Vow, I wanted to show how the heroine Winnie Douglas saw and lived what everyone went through between 1914 and 1918 Paris. I also show how the war affected the women who stayed behind and waited for their husband, brother, cousin who joined the war effort.
The war also changed the soldiers who fought and saw firsthand the horrors and victories of war. Henry Whitfield, the hero in A Soldier’s Vow, had no idea what he would see and experience when he left his Canadian hometown. Many countries including Canada sent their strongest and bravest men overseas and fight an unknown enemy. They trained hard and fought even harder. Yet what waited for them in the trenches became their worst enemy. Rats, lice and other diseases caused the most terrible living conditions for every soldier on both sides.
Using such details in my book not only creates a setting but also brings the reader back to a time of turmoil, courage and undying love.
Jackie M. Smith
My novel, A Soldier’s Vow is now available with XOXO Publishing;
Excerpt of; A Soldier’s Vow
Valise in hand, Winnie stood breathless as she gazed at the majestic ship floating with so
much grace against the late afternoon November sky. She stepped forward and her heart raced inher chest. After spending the last two years in Europe, she headed home. Taking a deep breath of the cool salty air, she calmed herself. “You can do this,” she whispered.
Fixing her wide-brimmed hat, she climbed the thick wooden walkway, her feet feeling
heavy with every step. She glanced down. The great gulf separating her from the water below
made her nauseous and very light-headed. Taking another deep breath, she continued on her
way, while touching the baby growing inside her belly.
“Winnie!” a man’s voice called from behind her.
Looking out into the crowd behind her, she couldn’t see who had called her name. She
shook her head and continued up the walkway.
“Winifred Douglas!” The man’s voice called out again.
She stopped once more and looked below. For a quick moment, she swore she could hear
her darling Henry calling out to her. Could it be he had travelled all this way to Liverpool in
order to find her? She shook her head. Her heart raced. Her palms moistened inside her gloves.
Walking a few steps back down the gangplank, Winnie bumped into people going up. She
squeezed her eyes closed as people jostled their way past her. Stopping where she stood, she
looked everywhere for Henry’s handsome face. Unshed tears stung her eyes. She imagined
hearing him and seeing him. She felt dizzy. Taking a deep breath, she walked the rest of the way
down the gangplank, and waited one last moment for him to call out her name in the familiar
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