Friday, February 21, 2014

A White Wind Blew: A Novel of Waverly Hills by James Markert

Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wolfgang Pike came to Waverly Hills in order to heal the patients, both physically and spiritually. He was a priest-in-training when he fell in love with Rose, the woman who laid claim to his heart and revealed his second passion for healing others. It was in her memory that he continued tending to the many patients fighting the scourge of the time - tuberculosis.

Yet, in the midst of the fight, forces all around the sanatorium seemed to pull Wolfgang in dozens of directions. Will he be able to follow his own moral and ethical code when faced with difficult decisions? Will he be able to withstand the unrelenting pressures of living within the shadow of death and disease at Waverly Hills?

The history of Waverly Hills has always intrigued me since I first learned of it decades ago. The amount of heartache, tests of faith, and sorrow experienced within its walls must have been overwhelming to those who struggled to care for the many patients who turned to the staff for healing. Therefore, my interest was definitely piqued when I saw this novel available at NetGalley.

The events written within the novel were fiction but based upon the rich history of Waverly Hills, the surrounding areas, the city of Louisville and the current events sweeping the nation during the time period in which the novel was set. To me, the author did a wonderful job of mixing the racial tension, animosity leftover from the World War I and the trouble between Prohibition keepers and the bootleggers. I truly enjoyed the many layers of the book and especially liked the moments where the injustices were challenged. That's not to say the book was all rainbows and happiness. There were real consequences for the characters in the book whenever they began to go against the norms society held in place.

Much of the book centered around Wolfgang Pike, a doctor and student in training for the priesthood. Within the walls of Waverly, he had a small group of devoted friends among the staff and patients. Each of them played their part well in the story as it unfolded. The sweeping changes that took place, both in the characters themselves and the sanatorium, were realistic to the time in which the story was set. It was very easy to become lost within the story and feel what Wolfgang was going through at certain parts of the book. That made it much more enjoyable for me.

I was surprised that the author was able to mix some actual history into the story. The descriptions of the various floors and surrounding landscapes created a picture within my mind of a majestic, state of the art hospital in its time and not the broken down vessel often shown on TV or in pictures today. The author's use of the hospital's lore also gave the story an added dimension of realism, especially the use of Nurse Rita and the story of the Death Chute.

All in all, this book was a wonderful read that kept me up late every night that I was able to read it. I was able to see the story as a movie within my mind as I read the words, a testament to the dedication to realism that the author employed. There were some moments when I felt the pacing began to slow down, only to have it pick up again in the next moment. For anyone who enjoys historical fiction, Waverly Hills or simply a well-crafted stories that hits all the right buttons for a reader, I recommend this one highly.

A White Wind Blew: A Novel of Waverly Hills by James Markert is currently available in either paperback, hardcover or Kindle formats. You can purchase a copy from Amazon by clicking the link provided below.
A White Wind Blew: A Novel of Waverly Hills by James Markert

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