Welcome Time Travelers. You have landed in 1916, and we’re wondering how you got here—as well as what years you’ve already visited. Perhaps you can tell us in comments. Roses in Picardy, by Caroline Warfield—the final story in the Bluestocking Belles’ Never Too Late anthology—takes place this year, but we hope 1916 is not your last stop via The Bluestocking Belles’ Time Machine.
Unfortunately this is not a good year. The world is at war, and 1916 continues to endure of the worst of it. It is only November, but these horrific battles have taken place so far this year:
- The year began with the evacuation of British and ANZAC troops from Gallipoli, a horrific action variously viewed by historians as a stalemate or an overall defeat for the Allies.
- Fighting took place from Greece to Cameroon, from what was then known as Mesopotamia and Armenia to Sudan, Egypt, and East Africa.
- There have been naval engagements in seas worldwide.
- In April, Irish Republicans unsuccessfully tried to take advantage of British preoccupation. The Rising failed miserably, but people suspect the future consequences may be very different.
- On the Western Front in France, the great battles of attrition, Verdun and the Battles of the Somme went on for months and ground down troops on all sides with very little outcome. We’ve sunk into a weary truce, dreading 1917
Food shortages are occurring across Europe and civilian populations are suffering starvation. In North American, public awareness programs have geared up aimed at relief for the women and children of France, the need to feed the troops, and other programs.
In the United States, rumors of war abound, but they just re-elected Woodrow Wilson on the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” No one knows what they will do.
Life, of course, goes on. The 1916 Olympics have been cancelled, but the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, the Boston Red Socks won the so-called World Series, and R. Norris Williams, who survived the Titanic, won the 36th U.S. Men’s National Tennis Championship this year. Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Beery, Mary Pickford, and others help keep up morale. Pablo Picasso continues to paint even as many of his friends have gone to war.
Women are volunteering to do their bit. Marie Curie has given up her work with radium for now. So far she has created twenty mobile x-ray trucks and is training volunteer women to staff them at the front. They agitate for the vote across Europe, the United States, and Canada without success. Paris continues to create designer gowns, but most women wear practical clothing. Hemlines began to rise last year, revealing ankles, and the ladies are finding shorter skirts much more practical for the kind of work they are called on to do in these times.
It is Never Too Late For Love
Even in time of war, love blooms, and sometimes hastens weddings. Notable soldiers of the Great War who married their lovers included:
- German Company Commander Erwin Rommel (later WWII Field Marshall) married Lucie Mollin. They had been engaged since he was a 20-year old cadet. He wrote to her every day.
- R.R. Tolkien, upon receiving orders to ship out to France, married his Edith, who whom he had been in love since he was sixteen. They remained together until her death over fifty years later.
- Career military office one year out of West Point, Dwight D. Eisenhower, met his Mamie on Valentine’s Day this year. With the expected entry of the United States into the War, they moved up earlier plans and were married in July.
Barriers to Love
The war looms over the hero and heroine of Roses in Picardy too. Unlike the folks who married before shipping out to the battlefield, Harry met Rosemarie in the shadow of the fighting. Assigned to an infantry battalion that rotates in and out of the trenches, he is only able to steal moments here and there to visit her in her home among the floating islands of Amiens. The widow and her island offer him a glimpse of peace and hope away from the fighting. Unfortunately, the war isn’t over, and the best they can find is Happy For Now. Our story ends there, but readers have asked what comes next.
Your author has to think about that. He has more fighting to face. If they both survive, there are more challenges in front of them. Thrown together by the war, they actually come from very different backgrounds. One of them is religion, a challenge the Tolkiens successfully overcame. Another is country. Will Rosemarie want to move to Canada? Would Harry stay in France? Will career require city living or will they keep Rosemarie’s country haven? The course of love never runs straight! What do you think? What would you like to see happen?
Farewell—and a GIVEAWAY
Thank you for dropping in. Your next stop could be on Susana Ellis’s blog on Thursday, but you might want to go back to 1886, or just head over to The Bluestocking Belles Time Machine and hop around at will. I wish you safe travels. Good luck in your travels.
Don’t forget, each comment on every stop of the Time Machine will be counted as an entry to win a grand prize of a $25 gift voucher from Amazon and a print copy of Never Too Late.
Adieu, Time Traveler. Try not to land in the midst of the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London or the sack of Rome!
About Never Too Late
Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.
Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology. The final installment is Roses in Picardy.
Are men in Hell happier for a glimpse of Heaven?”
The piercing eyes gentled. “Perhaps not,” the old man said, “but a store of memories might be medicinal in coming months. Will you come back?”
Will I? He turned around to face forward, and the priest poled the boat out of the shallows, seemingly content to allow him his silence.
“How did you arrange my leave?” Harry asked at last, giving voice to a sudden insight.
“Prayer,” the priest said. Several moments later he, added, “And Col. Sutherland in the logistics office has become a friend. I suggested he had a pressing need for someone who could translate requests from villagers.”
“Don’t meddle, old man. Even if they use me, I’ll end up back in the trenches. Visits to Rosemarie Legrand would be futile in any case. The war is no closer to an end than it was two years ago.”
“Despair can be deadly in a soldier, corporal. You must hold on to hope. We all need hope, but to you, it can be life or death,” the priest said.
Life or death. He thought of the feel of the toddler on his shoulder and the colors of les hortillonnages. Life indeed.
The sound of the pole propelling them forward filled several minutes.
“So will you come back?” the old man asked softly. He didn’t appear discomforted by the long silence that followed.
“If I have a chance to come, I won’t be able to stay away,” Harry murmured, keeping his back to the priest.
“Then I will pray you have a chance,” the old man said softly.
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