Tuesday 5 December 2017

Julia's Gifts - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 1

Julia's Gifts
Great War Great Love #1
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915306

I must admit as a middle-aged man this book would not be my normal reading. I do read a lot of YA, but hardly any romance. And this book is really so much more than that. As a father of daughters this is a book I look forward to rereading with my girls in a few years when they are a little older. Full Quiver Publishing has a tag line of their website of "Theology of the Body Fiction", and after reading this book I understand that goal better. And will likely read other titles by both the author and publisher.

When this book was recommended to me I looked it up. A few authors I respect had given it rave reviews, so I thought I would give it a try. The description of the book is:

"Religious Fiction. As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her "beloved." Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer."
Once I started reading this story I was immersed in the world at war. I could hardly put the book down and I read it in three sittings in one day. This book got me thinking about a lot of things. I have heard of other parents that started praying for their children's spouses as soon as the children were born. I also while in university had a list of things I was praying for in a spouse. And in this book Julia took it one step further, not only was she praying for her future husband, she bought him a Christmas gift each year. When she volunteered to go to Europe and serve with the Red Cross as a medical aid worker. When packing she packs the small box with all the gifts that she has purchased 'just in case'.

The story is not a typical courtship or romance novel. It is a story of faith. It is a story of answered prayer, often in unexpected ways. It is a wonderful read. I really appreciated the realism in this story. It captured the essence of war, and the reality of serving at an aid station. There are some very hard parts of the story to read, parts about injured and dying soldiers. The cramped conditions in the medical tents. A suicide. And other elements of war make this book a mature read. Because of that I would recommend this book for older teens, or very mature younger teens.
This is a book that completely took me by surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I made me think back on my grandparents who met during the war, and both grandfathers who had served in the European theatre. It also made me thing of my paternal grandmother who was a war bride and came to Canada after the war. It made me reflect on the future for my own three children, and start praying again for their possible future spouses. It is a fiction book that made me thing and inspired me to pray more and in new ways. As such I can only say this is an excellent read, I am very thankful I took the chance, and gave it a try and I recommend you do the same.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ellen Gable:

O'Donovan Family Series:
On Name Only
A Subtle Grace


Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts
Charlotte's Honor

Ella's Promise

Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny


Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Ashes Visible & Invisible 10 Stories for Teens

Reviews of other books from Full Quiver Publishing:
Dying for Compassion - Barbara Golder
Dying for Revenge - Barbara Golder

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