Welcome to the third installment of the Bess Crawford Read Along of book 3 in the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd, A Bitter Truth!
Trying to help a woman in distress, World War I nurse and accidental sleuth Bess Crawford learns that no good deed goes unpunished
When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.
Once inside Bess’s flat, the woman reveals that a quarrel with her husband erupted into violence, yet she wants to return home—if Bess will go with her to Sussex. Realizing that the woman is suffering from a concussion, Bess gives up a few precious days of leave to travel with her. But she soon discovers that this is a good deed with unforeseeable consequences.
What Bess finds at Vixen Hill is a house of mourning. The woman’s family has gathered for a memorial service for the elder son, who died of war wounds. Her husband, home on compassionate leave, is tense, tormented by jealousy and his own guilty conscience.
Then, when a troubled houseguest is found dead, Bess herself becomes a prime suspect in the case. This murder will lead her to a dangerous quest in war-torn France, an unexpected ally, and a startling revelation that puts her in jeopardy before a vicious killer can be exposed.
I think this was my favorite Bess Crawford mystery to date - I was definitely guessing until the end and was completely wrapped up in the lives of the Ellis family and with Bess' experiences.
1.) How did A Bitter Truth stack up for you against Bess' previous two adventures?
3.) The plight of orphans in the war is brought to the forefront in this novel - what do you think of Lydia's and Bess' feelings and plans for Sophie?
4.) I was struck by the passage in chapter 15, when Todd speaks of the evolution of the war: "The days when men lined up in their dozens to be the first to enlist had long since passed. Now the reality of the trenches had scoured away that bravado, and in its place were these recruits, afraid of shaming themselves in front of their mates but probably wishing themselves anywhere but here." How did you see the war changing people and events in the novel?
5.) Simon Brandon plays an even greater role in this book than the last, though I don't think Bess sees his interest as more than professional or familial. What do you think his intentions are? And do you think Bess recognizes them?
The newest book in the Bess Crawford series, An Unmarked Grave, is on sale on June 5th and we'll be discussing that book here on the blog on June 25th. And we'll discuss the entire Bess Crawford series with writing team Charles Todd on the live online radio show Book Club Girl on Air on June 28th at 7pm ET.
Follow the Bess Crawford read-along on Twitter at the hashtag #besscrawford and be sure to friend Charles Todd on Facebook!