[Review] The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale by Charles Todd

Title: The Walnut Tree
Author: Charles Todd
Publisher: William Morrow An Imprint of Harper Collins October 30, 2012
Genre: Fiction
Theme: A titled Scottish lass becomes a nursing sister during World War I.
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 256
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from William Morrow/Harper Collins in exchange for a review.

1914, World War I. 
Lady Elspeth Douglas is in Paris, France when war with Germany begins. She is in Paris, visiting a long time friend named Madeleine, who will soon have her first baby. Elspeth, begins a relationship with her friends brother Alain; however, war calls him away before the relationship advances. During her journey to escape France, Elspeth encounters war first hand. She also reconnects with an old friend named Peter Gilchrist. Her firsthand experience of being on a battlefield and seeing the injured, both shakes and consumes her. Back in the safety of England, Elspeth makes a serious decision to become a nursing sister. Meanwhile, past decisions will haunt her until rectified. 

I loved this story!
Elspeth has lived a life of luxury, all her needs and wants are met with servants. Her mother died when she was age three. Her father died recently. Her guardian is an older second cousin with sons her age.When the story began I was unsure of her character. A person of high social status can sometimes be unable to conquer ego and pride. I admire Elspeth's ability to respond and engage herself in duties that are not common to a woman of her social status. In training to be a nursing sister she had to scrub floors and clean up excrement and other body messes that most of us would cringe at. When faced with an obstacle she perseveres with bravery. She is a person of faithfulness, despite fear. 
I felt that through her story of caring for injured soldiers I'm able to understand what a nursing sister's duties were. Elspeth is a compassionate, selfless, fearless, intelligent, mature, nurse.
Her decision to become a nursing sister during war time is met with shock, dismay and negativity. This element is the main part of the story, a second element is her decision about two love interests, third is a mystery. This last part is so small I would not even state this is a mystery novel, but because Charles Todd is a mystery writing team, focusing on the World War I years and aftermath, readers of their books might be surprised that the mystery is miniscule.
Bess Crawford is the main character and heroine in several of Charles Todd's books. She makes cameo appearances in The Walnut Tree.