With enemy fire slamming into his hand, leg and neck, Sgt. Thomas Kennedy instinctively uses his body to protect another soldier. Not because he is brave, but because he is a decent man from Maine.
Monninger (The World as We Know It, 2011, etc.) exquisitely evokes the horrific ballet of a body riddled by bullets, as well as the enchantment of snow falling on lilacs. His latest novel pits love and duty against each other in the tale of Margaret Kennedy. Six years after her husband, Thomas, was shot in Afghanistan, Margaret carries on her duties selflessly, day after day. On a Maine farm, she rises early to tend the cows with her father-in-law and then turns to her 6-year-old son, Gordon, who has only ever known his father as a wounded, comatose veteran. Although her beauty has faded from fiery to elegant, Margaret seeks nothing more than to do right by Thomas. Little does she suspect how her life will change when she accepts an invitation to Washington D.C., to show support for a bill sponsoring aid for wounded soldiers. A handsome, wounded warrior himself, Foreign Service officer Charlie King arrives to personally escort her to the capital. Astonishingly quickly, Margaret and Charlie fall in love and into bed. And so begins a love affair filled with beautiful words and beautiful places, including the blooming of the rhododendrons along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yet their romance lives within a glass bubble. Can her love for Charlie keep Margaret from her loyalties back home?
Neither the consequences of war nor the ties that bind generate a satisfying conflict for this emotional tryst.