Saturday, September 15, 2012

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts
by Martha Brooks
On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most—the demise of her little brother—that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.  (description from

What a surprising little gem of a book. I should have known! I read Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks and found it to be a really well done historical fiction. I just couldn't imagine that I was going to enjoy a book about a girl who gets tuberculosis.  And yet... I really did! 

Marie Claire was a great character. She is headstrong and stubborn and sometimes just plain rude... yet she is also intuitive and caring and feels responsible for not only her own illness, but that of her brother and sister, as well. She is the only reason I could imagine reading a book about a poor girl living in a TB sanatorium...

While the author absolutely gives accurate historical detail, unflinchingly making readers aware of medical procedures that were done that now would be considered horribly barbaric, the focus is so strongly on Marie Claire's emotional journey into adulthood during her illness, that it does not become overwhelming.  This is the brilliant blend of fact and fiction that great historical writers can create. 

Short, but powerful. I would definitely recommend this to any historical fiction fans.

Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan

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