AP NEWS

Guilt, Dreams and Winter Visions

February 18, 2019
Kerry Pettis Bookwoman

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

Lucius Krzelewski is the son of a well-to-do family living in Vienna in 1914. He is an outstanding medical school student when World War I begins. Attracted by idealized dreams of practicing battlefield medicine, he enlists and is dispatched to a remote field hospital in the Carpathian Mountains.

Lucius is only six semesters into his studies and has never actually touched a patient before. He believed he would be working under a senior surgeon, but instead his only help is Sister Margarete. Fortunately she is a practical woman with the determination and grit necessary to make extreme medical decisions and get the job done. Lucius learns under her subtle guidance.

The biggest problems (other than wounds) in their improvised hospital are rats, lice, and wolves. Typhus kills as many patients as amputations. The war is being mismanaged and, many ailing soldiers are shipped back to the front lines before they are fully recovered.

Lucius makes the mistake of caring too much, especially about the patients suffering from shell shock. A fateful decision regarding one of these men changes the atmosphere of the hospital and Lucius’s life as well.

Like many war/romance novels this book has the sweep of history combined with the intimacy of human lives. Author Daniel Mason is a doctor and he brings that knowledge to this beautifully written book.

Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children’s librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her favorite occupation.