Georgie Taylor followed her best friend, Rose, into flight nurse training, but doesn’t really have confidence in herself. Her tendency to panic in a crisis causes her to wonder if maybe her fiance and family are right, that this life is too much for her, that she should resign and come back home to Virgina where it’s safe. Coddled by both her family and fiance, she is usually reliant on them to make decisions for her, but she questions whether she should push herself to grow and develop in her current situation.
Her friends seem to think she can grow into a great flight nurse, and a new friend, Hutch, encourages her to step out of her comfort zone. Sgt. John Hutchinson, or Hutch, is a pharmacist looking forward to becoming an officer some day. His father is working on the development of a Pharmacy Corps, but in the meantime, Hutch has to work under an officer who knows nothing about pharmacy and coworkers who have only had three months of training. Hutch chafes under the lack of respect for his profession and position, but he feels that once he becomes an officer, everything can be set to rights. Letters from his fiancee tend to upset him rather than encourage him, though, due to her rampant jealousy and worry.
As Hutch and Georgie cross paths on throughout Europe, their friendships grows, but as they find themselves becoming attracted to each other, they make an effort to step back. Meanwhile each faces crises of their own, involving grief, hurt, and betrayal, both at home and overseas.
Sundin’s characters are always likeable but realistically flawed, and part of their journey is how they have to come to grips with their flaws and seek change. Georgie has to learn to stand on her own two feet, among other things; Hutch has to learn humility and contentment.
Sundin also weaves interesting history and detail in her stories. She and her husband are both pharmacists, and at the end she shares where some of the inspiration and facts came from for this story.
My only tiny quibble is that Georgie’s “Southern Charm” is a little thick sometimes. I consider myself a Southerner, but I cringe when people “Sugar” and “Honey” everybody. On the other hand, some people do do that, so it’s not unrealistic, and it’s not overwhelming here.
On Distant Shores is another great WWII-era read from Sarah Sundin that I am happy to recommend.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)