This novel opens in WWI with Adele Savard, a nurse from Canada, who is treating injured soldiers. She meets Corporal Jeremiah Bailey of the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company and they make an immediate connection. They are both from the same town. Adele and her fellow nursing sisters are nicknamed Bluebirds from the color of their uniforms, thus the title of the book. Jerry goes back to the front and they aren’t sure they’ll see each other again, but they hope to. After the war Jerry and his brother return home to discover their parents have died from Spanish Flu. It’s Prohibition and everyone in town, including Jerry’s late father, have been making money rumrunning. Adele works for a local doctor and she and Jerry reunite after he saves her from his devious rival, a man he has a history with since childhood.
Their romance is tender and sweet, and best of all in my opinion, it is not rushed. They form a friendship that blooms with time.
The story contains a present day thread in which a young woman named Cassie is a historian who used to live in the Bailey House but lost her mother there in an accident. When the current owner finds bottles of whiskey hidden in the walls of the house, the two work to unfold the mystery, which is part of Cassie’s family history. I love family history connections!
I found the modern thread to be brief and while interesting, not too well developed. However, the story of Adele and Jerry is compelling and I love a book that teaches me history I wasn’t aware of. The rumrunning in Windsor, Canada was linked to the US due to its proximity to the border across the Detroit River and the fact that Prohibition ended in Canada long before it did in the US. (The author’s note at the end is not to be missed!)
The story is gritty at times, but just enough to draw you into the story. It involves two bloody periods in history after all. The ending is quite intense, but the conclusion unveils hope and illustrates how those who lived it endured and continued to live their lives. Those who love history, like all of our readers on this blog, will enjoy this one.
I received an advance copy from the publisher for the purpose of review and all opinions are my own.
Reviewed by Cindy Thomson