Under the Moon is the third book of a series written by Gabriele Wills. This book follows her two previous books: The Summer Before the Storm and Elusive Dawn. The Summer Before the Storm takes place just before the Great War (WWI) and Elusive Dawn is set during the war. In Under the Moon, Chas and Ria Thornton are back in Ontario at their beautiful lake cottage in the Muskoka lakes region with their wards and adoptees trying to regain some normalcy in their lives after the trauma of the war. They return with two adopted children and the guardianship of the older Alice, the girl Ria had met on the ill-fated Lusitania. Both Chas and Ria were severely injured in the war, but both were lucky to survive to see Canada once again. This book depicts many survivors of the war readjusting to their homes and families, while others have more difficulty or are suffering the aftereffects of the war and of the Spanish influenza epidemic.
As in the previous two books, many real historical characters are included. Some I am vastly familiar with and others I have enjoyed discovering. The ones that I always enjoy portrayed in fiction or just even mentioned are Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Ernest Hemingway. Of course, Hemingway even merits a conversation with Elizabeth Wyndham as she enjoys wine at Les Deux Magots in Paris. He asks Elizabeth about Muskoka, comparing it to his own lake area of Michigan, as well as conversing about one of the fictional characters meeting his friends Ezra Pound and James Joyce. Another one of my favorite authors included with a cameo in this book is L.M. Montgomery. I never would have thought I would read a book that included two of my favorite, yet completely and totally different authors, Hemingway and Montgomery.
I also enjoyed learning about some various other Canadian figures, including the poet Wilson MacDonald, the painter A.Y Jackson of the Group of Seven, and physician and suffragette Dr. Emily Stowe. Of course, many more Canadian business and political figures are included or mentioned.
In these three books of Ms. Wills’ Muskoka series, one of Ria’s cousins named Phoebe is presented as being “disturbed.” She is a schizophrenic young lady that can see auras around people, is more attuned to the true motives of other characters, and she can see and communicate with the spirits of relatives that have passed. She is ultra afraid of thunderstorms and always seems to overhear conversations or meetings between others at the most inopportune times. Phoebe is one of the most interesting characters in the books. She is blunt and usually funny without really trying to be and is described as being “uncannily perceptive.”
neurasthenia-an ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance.
sinecure-a position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit
diaphanous- light, delicate, and translucent
dotage-the period of life when a person is old and weak
querulous-complaining in a petulant or whining manner
deevie (I’m thinking short for “divine”)
Following is one of the passages from the novel featuring Esme Wyndham, who falls in love with a local boat builder and mechanic named Stephen, who is seen by many of the characters as being beneath their class of people:
She had cried herself to sleep for weeks at the end of that summer of ’19. Then she had become angry. Who the hell did he think he was that he could spurn her like that? Oh God, she had made such a fool of herself! What had she seen in him anyway? Maybe she had fallen for him precisely because their relationship was inappropriate – a way of rebelling against her mother and those old-fashioned expectations and restrictions. Or perhaps it had been simply a fleeting summer romance under the moon.
But when the rage and embarrassment had evaporated, she was still left with an aching void, the yearning to be held in his arms, just to be with him.
Do Esme and Stephen finally get to be together? Read Under the Moon to find out . . .