The Secret of Raven Point

The Secret of Raven Point : A Novel

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1943: When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted older brother pleading for help, and then finds out he's been reported missing overseas, she lies about her age and volunteers as an army nurse to find him. Shy and awkward, Juliet is thrust into the bloody chaos of a field hospital, living in a sprawling encampment north of Rome where she forges new friendships with her fellow nurses and is increasingly consumed by the plight of her patients. One in particular, Christopher Barnaby, a deserter awaiting court martial, may hold the answer to her brother's fate-but the trauma of war has left him unable to speak. Racing against the clock, Juliet works with an enigmatic young psychiatrist, Henry Willard, to heal Barnaby's psychic wound before the authorities take him away and any clues as to her brother's fate are forever lost. Plunged into the horrifying depths of one man's combat memories, Juliet and Willard are forced to plumb the moral nuances of a so-called just war, and to face the dangers of their own deepening connection.Reminiscent of Pat Barker's Regeneration, The Secret of Raven Pointis a war saga capturing the experiences of soldiers after the battles have ended. And as few novels have done, it depicts the ravages of war through the eyes of a young woman. In luminous prose, Vanderbes tells the story of one girl's fierce determination to find her brother as she comes of age in a time of unrelenting violence. The Secret of Raven Pointis historical fiction at its best: haunting, heart-breaking, and ultimately more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160 x 232 x 30mm | 459.99g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1439167001
  • 9781439167007
  • 1,500,815

Review quote

"Fresh,compelling...War gives men and women a chance to become monsters or heroes, and Vanderbes finds her footing exploring these two extremes...[Juliet] is a companionable protagonist...She emerges from the experience as someone altered yet not conquered by war...Vanderbes performs admirably." The Washington Post "The Secret of Raven Point is strikingly vivid, tackling war's moral ambiguities from the open-eyed perspective of a young American woman on the cusp of adulthood...Vanderbes's unputdownable third novel... finds contemporary resonance in classic themes of humanity and loyalty tested by extremes...[Juliet is] her most indelible character to date." -- Megan O'Grady "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 author of The Technologists and The Dante Club "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 author of Arcadia "The Secret of Raven Point at first seems to be the mystery of a young man gone missing in World War II, but as the pages begin to fly by, the layers become deeper...This novel had me wrapped in the lives of the couple, who endure much personal loss and yet manage to find humanity in the darkest of times. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year." The Historical Novel Society "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 "Jennifer Vanderbes' The Secret of Raven Point should do for war-era Italy what Hilary Mantel has done for 1500's England. That is, it proves that fiction can be history with blood in its veins, quickening for us the violence and sadness and the awful incongruity of war. A brilliant novelist, and a book to treasure and never to forget." -- Darin Strauss author of Chang & Eng and Half a Life "Two separate mysteries create and maintain suspense throughout this gripping World War II coming-of-age novel..." New York Times "Part mystery, partcoming-of-age tale, part World War II novel, Vanderbes's...moving anempathetic, oblique take on the layers of damage done during war...Unusual andaffecting" Kirkus Reviews "A touching tale of a sister's love for her brother, but the underlying themes are much deeper. Readers will fall in love with the delightful Juliet, who is a smart and courageous heroine, and other hospital workers as they form friendships and struggle to accept tragedy and loss while treating their patients' physical and mental wounds...The only disappointing thing about this book is that it has to end." Library Journal, starred review "Vanderbes graphically depicts the gruesome nature ofbattlefield injuries, both to the body and to the psyche, even as she showsJuliet's courage and strength. The skillful Vanderbes' aching depiction ofJuliet's struggle to maintain her humanity amid the army's callous bureaucracyand the horrors of war works as both an homage to our armed forces and a movingpersonal story of emotional growth." Booklistshow more

About Jennifer Vanderbes

Jennifer Vanderbes is the author of the novels Easter Island and Strangers at the Feast, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Granta and has been translated into sixteen more

Review Text

"Fresh,compelling...War gives men and women a chance to become monsters or heroes, and Vanderbes finds her footing exploring these two extremes...[Juliet] is a companionable protagonist...She emerges from the experience as someone altered yet not conquered by war....Vanderbes performs admirably." The Washington Postshow more

Rating details

1,728 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 21% (355)
4 41% (716)
3 29% (509)
2 7% (118)
1 2% (30)
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