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A Season in Picardy by Sam Lutton

A Season in Picardy

by Sam Lutton

424 pages
There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep for another, and those we keep for ourselves.

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Category: Fiction:Historical
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About the Book
In the summer of 1918 Margaret and Beatrice Jerome board the U.S.S. Mongolia, an ocean liner turned U.S. Navy troopship bound for wartime France. They intend to claim the remains of their brother--Margaretís fraternal twin--and accompany it back to the United States. Our family doesn't want Michael buried so far from home, Margaret tells fellow passenger Robert Butler.

Lieutenant Butler, a newly commissioned Medical Corps surgeon, continues to struggle with the mystery of parents who suddenly vanished soon after his fourteenth birthday. The experience makes him wary of close personal ties, but auburn-haired Margaret has captured his attention.

Unfortunately, his cautious advances cannot overcome the barriers surrounding her unspoken conflicts.

Michael couldnít be dead, she rationalizes; it just wasnít possible. If something terrible had happened to her twin brother, then she would have sensed his distress. Yet, nothing like that had occurred: there was no moment of realization, no sudden sense of doom. If Michael had suffered a violent death, then how could she have been so oblivious to such a tragedy? Had suppressed sibling envy deprived her of the psychic closeness presumably shared by twins? Haunted by guilt and devastated by the loss, Margaret stifles her nascent feelings toward Butler.

At Le Havre, they bid each other reluctant farewells.

In Paris, the sisters discover surprising particulars about their brotherís life and his work as an ambulance driver with the American Field Service. Complicating their task is a recent codicil to Michaelís Last Will and Testament: a legally sound document that frustrates their attempt to claim his remains. More remarkable discoveries follow, including his intimate relationship with a nurse and a disturbing revelation surrounding the unsolved murder of a French artillery officer.

Michael had not shared those events with his twin sister, nor with anyone in his family. Astonished, hurt, and confused, Margaret comes to realize that no matter how close two people might seem to be, one cannot truly know the mind of another human being.

Meanwhile, the reality of war challenges Butlerís sense of who he is. Saddled with the battlefield memory of his shameful behavior toward a horribly mangled soldier, Butler resolves never to reveal what happened. Every human being has a terrible secret they cannot share, he tells himself. This will be mine.

Despite her initial coolness aboard ship, Butler writes to Margaret, hoping for a positive response. To his surprise and delight she agrees to meet him in Paris should he get leave from his duties at the front. It is the turning point in both their lives.

The Armistice finds them together on the French Riviera, amidst the wealthy and the wounded, deeply in love but harboring memories and secrets that leave them forever changed.

 

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About the Author
Samuel J Lutton grew up in Western Pennsylvania. Following military service his occupational pursuits included systems analysis, management consulting, and senior executive positions. For a time in between he lectured at Washington University in St. Louis.

 

 

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