Today’s Wednesday Wonders features the World War One adventure novel, The Spider and the Sparrow, by A. L. Sowards.
May 1915. After tragedy strikes during the Second Battle of Artois, Frenchman Julian Olivier will do anything to get out of the trenches. So when British Intelligence recruits him to spy behind enemy lines, he jumps at the opportunity. Just before he begins, however, he has a chance encounter with a young French woman who leaves his heart marked for the remainder of the war—even if he doesn’t know her name.
Warren Flynn is a Canadian airborne hero, and dogfights with the Germans are all in a day’s work. Second only to his love of flying is his fascination with Claire Donovan, the daughter of an American munitions manufacturer living in Paris. Warren flies Julian into Germany and soon receives orders to post the Allies’ newest operative—an attractive peasant woman named Evette—in Claire’s home.
As a dangerous ring of spies and saboteurs threatens to turn the war against the Allies, Julian discovers goodness in his enemies’ hearts. But even if he survives, will he ever be reunited with the woman whose memory he can’t erase? Will Warren survive the war, and will Evette unearth the infiltrator in her own territory before it’s too late?
|French trenches - WWI|
The sky rained water droplets and artillery shell fragments through the loud, misty morning. The water left puddles under the duckboards at the bottom of the French trenches and turned Julian Olivier’s horizon-blue uniform into a muddy mess. The artillery, most of it fired from French 75mm Soixante-Quinze guns, landed largely on the Germans, and thus troubled Julian little.
Amid the shrill whines and distant booms of the guns, Julian huddled under a rain block fashioned from broken rifles and a tattered greatcoat. Water dripped from the edges and leaked through in three spots along the center, but the shelter was sufficient to protect his paper from rain damage as he finished a letter to his parents.
Spring has skipped the trenches. I don’t suppose it can compete with the artillery. Has spring come to Calais? I miss the blossoming trees and the new green grass filling the meadows. Is the Channel clear? When I picture home, I imagine the harbor full of shipping from England. We’ll take all the men, horses, and ammunition they can send.
I wish I was home to help with the extra work this time of year always brings, yet I am also glad to sacrifice for France. Our existence here is rough, but Lieutenant Roux tells us we will be relieved within the week. I would do much for a bath and a real bed. Mother, you would be horrified by how filthy I look and smell, but since everyone else has been unwashed just as long, we grow used to it.
Julian paused, his pen hovering above the paper. He decided to spare his mother the description of trench rats. She despised rodents, and he didn’t want her to worry. Maybe he’d already said too much in complaining about the smell, but the scent of unwashed men was minor compared to the stench of decomposing bodies. He scratched the hair on the back of his neck. When washed, it was chestnut brown, but for now it was like everything else: the color of mud. He decided to omit the mention of lice from his letter as well. Nor would he tell her about the German shells that frequently pounded his position, but his father would want to know about French weapons.
Our current artillery barrage is strong, thus my friends predict we shall soon see action. I hope to make you proud when we drive the enemy from our soil.
Today it rains, but I am well. Please pray for me, as I ever pray for you.
Your loving son,
He added the date to the top of the sheet: May 6, 1915.
After the ink dried, Julian folded the letter and stuck it in his breast pocket for safekeeping. He would post it tomorrow after he’d had time to reread it and make sure he hadn’t said anything he wasn’t allowed to discuss. During their last period away from the line, he’d written that the cramped barn they were stationed in was covered in more manure than straw. A censor had refused to mail the letter and had given Julian extra work duty as punishment for his complaint.
He left the shelter and stepped into the rain, climbing onto the firing step next to his friend to peer through a hole in the sandbagged breastwork across no man’s land. How long before they’d be asked to go over the top? And when they went, what would they find, other than more mud and bullets? “They’re awfully quiet over there.”
Maximo Durand turned from his study of the German positions. He removed his kepi and wiped at his brow before replacing the visored cap. He gestured behind the line, where the artillery batteries were set. “At the rate our field guns are firing, there won’t be anyone left to attack.”
“Someone will survive. And they’ll be expecting us.” Only a fool wouldn’t recognize that a major attack was coming, and for all their faults, the Germans were no fools. Julian checked his rifle for the fourth time that morning to ensure it was loaded and clean, but he didn’t think they’d attack in this weather. Soon, he thought. He hoped he would be ready.
A.L. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington, then came to Utah to attend BYU and ended up staying. Now she’s a busy mom with young kids, but she does her best to squeeze writing time in between naptime, stroller rides, and homework sessions. She enjoys reading, writing, learning about history, and eating chocolate, sometimes all at once. As an author, she is known for heart-pounding action, memorable characters, careful historical research, clean romance, and family-friendly language. Prior to The Spider and the Sparrow, Sowards wrote four novels set during the Second World War, including two Whitney Award finalists. This is her first novel set during the Great War, but she doubts it will be her last.
Find A.L. Sowards online at:
Amazon | Deseret Books | Seagull Books
Click HERE weet this Blog Post: spies & saboteurs threaten the WWI Allies THE SPIDER AND THE SPARROW @ALSowards http://bit.ly/1T5PZ1j #WedWonders