Elusive Dawn by Gabriele Wills

Elusive Dawn by Gabriele Wills
555 pages
Mindshadows, First edition 2008
Welcome to the last stop on the Elusive Dawn book blog tour!

Elusive Dawn is the second book of a trilogy written by Canadian author Gabriele Wills. I enjoyed Elusive Dawnas much as I enjoyed The Summer Before the Storm (see previous post on this book). The main characters, Ria and Chas, are both in Europe helping the Allies struggle towards victory during World War I. Ria is now an ambulance driver in Calais and Chas has moved up in rank and is one of the Allies top fighter pilots. Only a handful of their friends remain in Canada for the duration of the war. Did Ria and Chas survive the test to their marriage? Do their friends and family survive the war? What was the war like from the Canadian point of view? I highly recommend you read Elusive Dawn to find out.

Gabriele-Wills1–Gabriele Wills, author of Elusive Dawn
Elusive Dawn shows what the various members of the Wyndham clan and friends are experiencing during the Great War. Readers see the viewpoint of most of the major characters and how they interpret what is happening in the world and in their lives. The book reflects the reality of such a devastating war in that some of the Muskokans do not see their beloved Canadian islands again. Readers also get to see the viewpoint of the ones left behind to support those that traveled overseas. Not all mysteries are solved and some new characters and mysteries are presented. History and events are presented and one is enticed to learn more.
Readers also get to travel to France and England and see what daily life was like for the medical personnel near the front and for many of the characters living in England for the duration. Many of the vast English estate houses were used as hospitals and clubs for the soldiers and officers. There are definitely similarities with the Downton Abbey series, as well as the beloved Maisie Dobbs novels set during the same time.
I do think it has taken me two books to really be familiar with the extremely large cast of characters. Since Chas and Ria have such big families and voluminous amounts of friends, I always struggle to remember who is who and how they relate. I am getting used to this now, but I think Ms. Wills could concentrate more on certain characters if there were less in total.
The crux of the story reminds me of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (different war, same issues) by Sloan Wilson. Part of the story took a long, long time to be resolved (I was losing patience with Ria), but I think Ms. Wills did an admirable job concerning that storyline.

For writing about Elusive Dawn, I received a free Kindle version of the book. This Kindle version has many extras and includes some useful and fascinating links.

Words I researched:
blessés French for nuns or sisters, the blessed ones
cyanosis a bluish discoloration of the skin resulting from poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood
fug, fuggy smoke or stuffy atmosphere, smokiness
gorse a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa
klaxon an electric horn or a similar loud warning device
napoo war slang for the French phrase “il n’y a plus,” meaning there is no more
paucity the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity
propitious giving or indicating a good chance of success; favorable
puerile childishly silly and trivial
puttee a long strip of cloth wound spirally around the leg from ankle to knee for protection and support
ribald referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way
roundels a small disk, esp. a decorative medallion
somnolence sleepyness
suppurating festering
tetchy bad-tempered and irritable
tumescence “of the day” – tumescent  swollen or becoming swollen

Places I researched:
People I researched:
Lt. Colonel John McCrae (author of In Flanders Fields)
Of course, there were scores of other words, places, and people that could have been researched. Ms. Wills links and her website have much more material.
Word usage and phrases I enjoyed as a reader:
Mom is going to have kittens, with you both going to France.
Conchies (concientious objectors)
Architecture as “frozen music”
Après la guerre
Lastly, one of my favorite passages:
Eddie and Jonathan Telford were flying Nieuport scouts, which were, of course, much faster fighter planes. They flanked Ria as they flew along the coast to Dunkirk. At over a mile up, they could stay well behind the lines but still see the brown, cratered corridor of the trenches — a wasteland betwen the frost-tinged green fields of a divided country. But the puffs of shells looked innocent from up here, Lance thought, the nether regions insignificant as he and Victoria flitted through the grandeur of the sky. Clouds that looked heavy and ominous from below were soft, gossamer fields of dazzling white snow. They was a brilliant, endless blue, while the mere mortals far below them existed in the passing shadows. Lance could certainly understand Victoria’s fascination with flying. Surely up here, men — and women — uncencumbered by gravity, soarding higher even than the birds, becoame a breed apart. They transcended the ordinary, seeing what only God had hitherto seen. Amidst all the radiance and purity of air and colour, the mud and blood and anguish far below them no longer seemed to exist. Alone in this celestial sphere with a freedom that one could never feel when tethered to the earth.

  6 comments for “Elusive Dawn by Gabriele Wills

  1. February 28, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Thank you for your detailed review, Denise. And I like your choice of favourite passage, since it’s one of mine as well. You wouldn’t know that I’m scared of flying, would you? 🙂
    Gabriele Wills

  2. February 28, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    You are so welcome, Gabriele. I am very surprised you are scared to fly! I would have never guessed. This passage really stood out to me and imagining seeing the trenches from above at the time. And this is even though Lance is not my favorite character! I cannot wait to read Under the Moon!

  3. February 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Aww, thanks, Denise. I’m having fun working on Book 4, but I am downsizing the cast! 🙂


  4. February 28, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Great to hear there is a Book 4 and the story continues for a while! I still want to visit Muskoka sooner rather than later. Cheers, Denise

  5. February 28, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Oh, I do hope you have a chance to visit Muskoka some time!

  6. March 1, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    I’m so glad you loved it as much as I did! I loved all three books and am super excited Gabriele decided to write book 4!

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