When Eleanor Atherton graduates from medical school at the University of Edinburgh near the top of her class in 1917, she dreams of going overseas to help the wounded, but her parents thwart her ambition at every turn. Women are supposed to find husbands and support the war effort by knitting for the troops, not sewing them back together.
When an unexpected twist of fate sends Eleanor to the battlefields of France as a private doctor, she seizes the opportunity. At the casualty clearing station near the front lines, the skeptical commander forbids her from treating the wounded, but when the station is overrun, she breaks protocol and helps the most grievously injured soldiers. As if the war weren’t bad enough, the Spanish flu ran rampant through the wards, too.
I always love a novel with a strong female protagonist who bucks tradition to fulfill her calling. Dr. Atherton is courageous and likeable, and I enjoyed getting to know her and the situation female surgeons faced during World War I. The Woman at the Front is a dramatic, frightening, and truly moving historical novel with a touch of romance and some interesting twists. It has a little something for every reader. I deducted a bit for its predictable ending, but it earned a solid 4 stars.
Published Date: September 2021
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason, A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd, High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin