February 2014 Indie Next List
“This story of a young woman's tour of duty as a WWII Army nurse is remarkable. Headed for a career in science, Juliet veers toward nursing in an effort to find her brother who is missing in action in Italy. Hope, love in many variations, stories of soldiers, doctors, nurses and support staff, the wounded and dying, civilians and officers -- it's all as messy as war and also splendid, heroic, and prosaic. Readers will be drawn in by the characters and deeply moved by the telling of their stories. Books as special as this make my job as a bookseller a joy!”
— Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA
From the award-winning writer of Easter Island (hailed by People magazine as a "rich and worldly first novel"), comes a powerful story of love, loss, and redemption amidst the ruins of war-torn Italy.
From the award-winning writer of Easter Island comes a powerful story of love, loss, and redemption amid the ruins of war-torn Italy.
1943: When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother and then discovers that he's been reported missing in action, she lies about her age and travels to the front lines as an army nurse, determined to find him. Shy and awkward, Juliet is thrust into the bloody chaos of a field hospital, a sprawling encampment north of Rome where she forges new friendships and is increasingly consumed by the plight of her patients. One in particular, Christopher Barnaby, a deserter awaiting court-martial, may hold the answer to her brother's whereabouts--but the trauma of war has left him catatonic. Racing against the clock, Juliet works with an enigmatic young psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Willard, to break Barnaby's silence before the authorities take him away. Plunged into the horrifying depths of one man's memories of combat, Juliet and Willard are forced to plumb the moral nuances of a so-called just war and to face the dangers of their own deepening emotional connection.
In luminous prose, Vanderbes tells the story of one girl's fierce determination to find her brother as she comes of age in a time of unrelenting violence. Haunting, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, The Secret of Raven Point is an unforgettable war saga that captures the experiences of soldiers long after the battles have ended.
“The Secret of Raven Point draws the reader in with evocative period drama and a rich emotional portrait of its heroine. An arresting, exciting journey of discovery from an extremely talented author.” -Matthew Pearl"The Secret of Raven Point is a subtle evocation of war and loss, which Jennifer Vanderbes—with extraordinary cleverness and restraint—explores slantwise, the story coming visible through its glimmering contours, like an embossing on fine paper or an impression in snow." -Lauren Groff"The Secret of Raven Point is that rare book that reminds us of the deep, immersive pleasures of novel-reading: of getting lost in a story, of being transported to another time and place, of growing so attached to characters that they feel as present and real as one’s own friends. Jennifer Vanderbes takes a harrowing but little-known chapter from WWII history and through her compassionate and brilliant rendering, transforms it into a story that is urgent, personal, and profoundly moving." -Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, National Book Award-Nominated author of Madeleine is Sleeping“The Secret of Raven Point is about piecing together meaning in lives and minds shattered by war. It's a meditation on the power of steadfast love in all its forms –romantic, fraternal, platonic, even divine—to restore wholeness out of chaos, and light out of unspeakable darkness. Jennifer Vanderbes gives us characters we care about and a story we believe in an engrossing novel that brings home the particularity of war. A moving tribute to a generation of men and women whose stories, and whose lives, for the most part are now lost to us, it's a great read.” -M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans