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Helen MacInnes
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Laura Joh Rowland

A Bitter Truth

A Bitter Truth  - Charles Todd, Rosalyn Landor As usual, I enjoyed Rosalyn Landor's excellent narration of this audiobook. She is a talented narrator who is able to really give distinct voices to each character she reads. I enjoy listening to the audiobooks that she narrates.

What I like about the Bess Crawford mysteries is that they are set against the backdrop of WWI, and they do not shy away from exploring the personal consequences of war. A Bitter Truth was no exception--it looked at how marriages can be damaged by war, how war can change spouses and families, and how sometimes good men do things in war that they would have never done if they hadn't been cast into battle. This aspect of these stories is very well done, it's moving, and it's thought-provoking. Frankly, it's this aspect of the books in this series that keep me coming back (well, that and Landor's narration).

I have to admit, though, that I really didn't care for the mystery part of A Bitter Truth. The denouement was clunky and didn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story. To me it felt like it just came out of left field.

There were other problems with the story too. I found Bess to be particularly annoying in this book. I like the nursing sister, and I get that she is supposed to be a caring, selfless individual, but she lets herself be taken advantage of, abused, and used to an extent that I simply cannot find believable. The woman needs to get a different kind of backbone (no doubt she's brave), one that enables her to tell people who take advantage of her kindness to shove off. I mean, she's on the front lines in France, nursing wounded soldiers, she gets leave and spends all of her leave helping others out with their problems rather than spending some time tending to herself. This character is straying out of "selfless" territory and into "doormat" territory, and I wish she'd stop that. I'd like to see Bess devote some time to herself once in awhile.

In addition, this story was much longer and more meandering than it needed to be. The same ground was covered over and over, and so many characters were introduced that I lost track of all the minor ones. This wouldn't normally be too big of an issue, but one of the minor characters winds up playing a huge role in the book. Unfortunately, by the time the role was revealed, I had all but forgotten about this character.

I will keep coming back for the books in this series, because I do like the exploration of the effects of war that these stories cover. I mostly like the main character (enough, anyway, to want her to take care of herself, too), and I like Rosalyn Landor's narration. After being less than thrilled with the mysteries in the last two books in the series, though, I think that at this point I'm reading less for the mystery and more for a personal look at the scars of war.