A big welcome to Kristy K. James who is on a blog tour right now, for her new book Enza! Set in the USA in 1918 a small town is focused on the fate of friends and relatives who are fighting in the trenches in the Great War. A more immediate threat is soon plaguing the town and tearing families apart. The seven strong Owens family is headed by a loving father and devoted mother. Daughter Elizabeth is dedicated to the Suffragette movement, trying her parents' patience almost as much as younger brother Johnathon who is convinced their German neighbour is a spy. Minister Colby Thornton and undertaker Marcus McClelland are both hard-working men who find themselves duty-bound to deal with the impact of the spread of the flu, although for very different reasons. Daniel Pullman has his hopes of joining the army dashed by an accident but finds the love of his life instead. All of them are at risk, and both their health and happiness are under threat.
This is a very touching book that almost had me in tears more than once. While the author focuses on a number of very different characters they are all very human and easy to sympathise with. A good part of the book is spent on setting the scene and developing the characters which is why I found it so sad when the pandemic hit their town. Cheeky lad Johnathon was particularly endearing and I enjoyed seeing the change in undertaker Marcus as events unfolded. I raced through this book in a couple of sittings, to see how the indiviuals would be affected. The writing was fluid and I found myself able to immerse myself in the story.
I suspect like me a lot of people have heard of the Spanish flu pandemic, it's mentioned every time there is a threat of a new global pandemic, but probably don't know a great deal more about it. The author provides some shocking statistics at the end of the book to further illustrate the swathe the illness cut across the globe. I really appreciated how the story of the pandemic was married with the other important news of the time to create a snapshot of the era.
This was a moving piece of historical fiction, that is as driven by the characters as the plot, and one I'd be happy to recommend.
Format: Kindle, Review copy
My Rating: 4*