I have been in awe of Jennifer Vanderbes since the publication years ago of one of my favorite novels ever: Easter Island. So when I saw that she had another novel coming out, I greeted it with bated breath and The Secret of Raven Point did not disappoint. Telling the story of Juliet, a young woman growing up during World War II, Vanderbes hands us a novel that is part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, and part wartime narrative. When Juliet’s older brother goes missing in action as an American soldier battling the German army overseas, Juliet lies about her age, then trains and enlists as a nurse to get as close as she can to the point her brother was last seen. Stationed in a field hospital in Italy, Juliet is thrown into the chaos of wartime life. She quickly finds herself surrounded by a makeshift family of fellow nurses, patients, soldiers, and doctors whose lives and small actions create intimacy and meaning under such perilous conditions. Juliet is caught between allowing her new life to shape and form her, and her own loyalty toward that of her missing brother, whose whereabouts remain veiled. This is a novel about holding faith beyond reason, about transgression and transformation, and about how when seeking truth about another, it is impossible to not also find truth about yourself. A poignant, lasting story, for anyone who is a fan of Call the Midwife; Vanderbes’ new novel shows off her skills in their highest form.— S.M.C.
“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
“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