Synopsis: A flight nurse and a pharmacist, both serving in the United States Army in 1943, struggle with moral and interpersonal dilemmas. Their friendships, personal identity, and faith are intensely tested as they seek to become the people they are meant to be while enduring the dismal conditions of World War II. Their paths cross, but will they be able to encourage one another, or will pride and fear blind them to any positive outcome?
Genre: Historical (World War II) Christian Fiction, Romance
Sarah Sundin is currently on the top of my Favorite Contemporary Authors list, and she has been there for several years now. I fell in love with her first book and have never been disappointed! Sundin sweeps the reader into World War II with ease, and introduces characters who are easy to connect with even if they are extremely different from the reader at first glance. I have never met a protagonist in one of her books that I didn’t like: most I wish I could be friends with, and many times I see pieces of myself in their struggles or personalities.
On Distant Shores tells the stories of two individuals caught up in trying to do the right thing, but suddenly unsure whether they are pursuing the best path for their lives. Lt. Georgiana Taylor, or Georgie, joined the flight nursing program with her best friend Rose, but it was never her own personal dream. Now done with training and close to the front lines, Georgie worries that she may not be capable of making quick decisions when necessary. Her fear puts the lives of her patients at risk, and her family pressures her to leave the squadron as soon as possible.
Sgt. John Hutchinson is a pharmacist by trade, and working with his politician father to convince Congress to commission a pharmacy core in the Army. At the moment, he is an enlisted man taking orders from officers with only a few weeks of training in his field, whereas he has years of schooling and a degree. Frustrated by the way he is treated and a constant stream of decisions he disagrees with, John’s discontentment takes its toll on his health, friendships, and the rest of his unit. When everything he has worked for is ripped out of his reach, John must make critical decisions about how he will respond and what is worth a continued fight.
When Georgie and Hutch meet in Italy, they hit it off well. However, they both have fiances back in the states, so nothing romantic can or does happen between them initially. As the story progresses, their friendship deepens and is tested. They push each other to become better at everything they do, but they also push each other away, possibly for good.
Like all of Sundin’s books, the romance is clean and innocent. The history is thorough and fits in perfectly with the story. Some of the plot points are predictable, but the writing is so pleasant that I did not mind. This is the second book in a trilogy, so I recommend reading the first book, With Every Letter (which I previously reviewed here) first. You can read On Distant Shores independently, and everything will make sense. There are some spoilers for With Every Letter though.
As always, I highly recommend this for fans of World War II fiction, clean romance, and anyone just looking for an interesting book to read. It isn’t a fast-paced thriller, but it has plenty of intrigue, drama, and Christian themes such as never giving up, learning to trust God in all things, and finding peace when the world is in chaos.
Do you have a favorite book set in the mid-1900’s or historical fiction author? Share it in the comments!