Under the Cover of Mercy
by Rebecca Connolly
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Pub Date 11 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 25 Apr 2023
Shadow Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain
The Great War has come to Brussels, the Germans have occupied the city, and Edith Cavell, Head Nurse at Berkendael Medical Institute, faces an impossible situation. As matron of a designated Red Cross hospital, Edith has sworn an oath to help any who are wounded, under whatever flag they are found. But Governor von Lüttwitz, the ranking German officer, has additional orders for her. She and her nurses must also stand guard over the wounded Allied prisoners of war and prevent them from escaping.
Edith feels that God called her to be a healer, not a jailer. How can she heal these broken boys, only to allow them to be returned to the hands of their oppressors to be beaten again?
So when members of the Belgian resistance, desperate for help, bring two wounded British soldiers to her hospital in secret, she makes a decision that will change everything: she will heal the soldiers, and then attempt to smuggle them out of the hospital to freedom.
With her loyal friend and fellow nurse, Elizabeth, by her side, Edith establishes her hospital as a safe house for the resistance, laboring tirelessly to save as many soldiers as she can. Working under the watchful eyes of the German army, Edith faces challenging odds and charges of treason—which carries the death penalty if she is caught—as she fights alongside the resistance to bring—and keep—hope to her small corner of a war-torn world.
Based on a true story, Under the Cover of Mercy is the remarkable account of one woman who defied an entire nation in order to heal those who needed her help the most.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 36 members
How one woman changed WWI
“Think of me only as a nurse who tried to do her duty.” That is how Edith Cavell, an English woman in Belgium during WWI, wanted to be thought of. No one special. No special talent. Just a nurse trying to do her duty to all needing help. Based on the true story of Edith Cavell this book lets you glimpse into the struggles and hard questions she was forced to address when the Germans invaded and took control of Belgium. Being the matron of a Red Cross Hospital entailed not only running the hospital itself but teaching and supervising nurses and nurse trainees. Now with the invasion and occupation new and dangerous responsibilities were added. They would treat the enemy soldiers but what of the other side’s soldiers, some of whom had escaped detection? Who can be trusted and who needs protection? Through her choices things were put in motion that had a profound impact on the war. A sometimes intense read that is well worth your time and the introspection it brings with it. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy. This is my review and all thoughts are my own.
This is the story of one of the most well-known tragedies of WWI. Astonishing at the time, it echoed around the world at the cruelty and poor judgement of the treatment of this famous nurse. If you have or have not heard of Edith, whichever it is, you must absolutely read this stunning, heartbreaking novel. You will witness the courage and the compassion this woman had in nursing the injured, no matter which side they fought on. She was an unprecedented woman who showed that underneath the uniform is a suffering human, not an enemy. Excellently researched and well-written, this is a book that will stay with you a long time. EXCELLENT!
UNDER THE COVER OF MERCY by REBECCA CONNOLLY is a beautiful tribute to Edith Cavell, a devoted Christian who helped save the lives of about two hundred allied soldiers by nursing them back to health and passing them on to members of the Belgian resistanceq in order for them to escape the Nazis during the first world war.
The book is both stimulating and sad as we are drawn into Edith, and her friend Elizabeth’s, stories.
There is betrayal, danger, sadness, fear and joy as Edith and her band of nurses give their all to save lives, against the horrific background of the Belgian occupation in 1915.
I like to see how Edith brought encouragement wherever she was and treated all the wounded with grace and compassion, whether they were ally or enemy.. In fact, her tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt led to some hair raising situations! Her fierce love for her friends and those she worked with, and the responsibility she felt to keep them out of danger, led to exhaustion, which worried her friend and confidant Elizabeth: who helped wherever possible. Edith’s strength came from her close relationship with the Lord as she walked in His footsteps.
I highly recommend Under the Cover of Mercy as an exciting and worthwhile read.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Shadow Mountain Publishing. The opinions in this review are completely my own.
Rebecca Connolly has done it again! This was stunning. The plot was well-paced and captivating from start to finish. The characters were well-developed; complex, and intriguing. I highly recommend this beautiful telling of the power of friendship and love. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.
This book gives the reader a glimpse into the life of Edith Cavell and her time with the Red Cross during WWI. It is a well-written, interesting story, and it inspired me to continue reading about Edith and her work with the resistance.
this was a beautifully done story, it was what I was hoping for in a historical novel. I loved the concept and the time-period going on, it was what I was hoping for. The characters worked in this time-period and were really well written. I enjoyed the way Rebecca Connolly wrote this, and am excited to read more from her,
"He snorted a soft laugh. “I’ve already told you what we know, Miss Wilkins. We’ve had Quien and Jacobs in your clinic, passing through as soldiers, and they have reported everything to us. Your confession will not be telling us anything we do not already know.”
This was a great book of how nurses helped people during a wr to get people better. It shows if you work together you all will be OK. This book was approved by netgalley and the publisher.
First I want to thank Netgalley for the ARC of this one. I was so excited when I was approved as this as been on my radar for a while.
Here is a well researched, human portrait of Edith Cavell. Edith is a martyred character from WWI, killed by the Germans for treating and rescuing hundreds if not thousands of allied soldiers. But what makes her story so unique is that she also treated with equal vigor German soldiers. So her death was a catalyst for an international outcry against German brutality, to the point that even the Kaiser himself was disturbed (reports say).
Why its taken this long for someone to try to capture Edith in historical fiction I can only guess. She is not a particularly exciting character, she is not complex. She is simply good. She lived her life by a strict set of values. She had high expectations for herself, but she didn't impose those on anyone else. So in that respect I can see why a real honest depiction of her would be somewhat dull. I did not find this dull however.
Edith Cavell has been a source of propaganda since her execution, and that has made her a larger than life persona. While the real person has largely been lost to history. I loved this book for bringing her to life, in an honest way. This books deals with Edith and her closest companions (nurses) it doesn't focus as much on the political maneuvering around her, which I'm grateful because that would have been to long and arduous. Anyone can google about Edith and learn more, which I did.
My one complaint is that this book focuses a lot on Christian themes. Understandable to a degree considering how deeply religious and spiritual Edith was, but for those not so inclined it is a bit over the top. Nothing a quick skim over didn't fix however. And just because I don't give a fig about Christian prayers or hymn, it doesn't mean that Edith story isn't compelling in and of itself.
Overall I give this one a solid 4 stars. Well researched, well written, compelling depiction of a women we should learn more about in traditional history books.
1914-1915 Brussels, Belgium
Based upon the service of English Red Cross Nurse Edith Cavell. During WWI, Edith served as Head Nurse at Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels. As Belgium is occupied by Germans, it becomes treason to help soldiers other than German soldiers. Yet Edith has sworn an oath to help any who are wounded. And thus, the decision to assist soldiers in need and put herself and her charges at risk or turn non-German soldiers away knowing their dismal fate.
It's a faith building novel as Edith shows determination and courage in the face of resistance. One person can make a difference.
The cover is perfect for the story it holds.
Wonderfully descriptive account of Edith Cavell, her nursing life and support of soldiers. Kept you in suspense wondering how she would go unnoticed in her helping soldiers to escape. Heat searching to the end.
A rather short but intense reading I enjoyed a lot! Edith is shown as a very brave woman, but remains very human through her obstination (determination?) and a well drawn personality. I also found very interesting to read the situation in Brussels during WWI which I didn't know so much about. Overwhelming tension remains up to the conclusion of the novel. Even if you know about Edith Cavell's sentence, yiu still end up hoping for another outcome, showing a good and thrilling writing!
I received a complimentary ARC of this novel from NetGalley and I am leaving voluntarily an honest review.
I always love Rebecca Connolly’s work and this one is no different! I love history but it was a little off-putting since I’m not super nursing but it wasn’t too bad so I was grateful for that.
When I saw that this author was writing a book about WWI, I was so excited to read it!
(I became a large fan after her book about the ship that came to the aid of the Titanic.)
And this book didn’t disappoint one bit. Edith is a head nurse who felt a call from God to be a healer.
But then two injured soldiers show up in the dead of night. And she has to make the decision, does she stay loyal to the German side…or help the enemy.
I decided to read this book because, firstly, it’s historical fiction, and that’s my go-to genre. Second, because the cover is gorgeous. Third, the author was new to me, and I love trying out new writers and writing styles.
I wish I loved this book, but three things kept me from giving it a higher rating. First, the writing style felt very plain and simplistic, and I just couldn’t connect with it or find myself immersed in it either. Second, the plot was very slow, and I just felt like I couldn’t relate or connect with the characters much. Third, sometimes it was hard for me to differentiate Edith’s POV from Lizzie’s, as their characters share a lot of similarities, which made for some confusion.
I do commend the author for writing this story, as it is based on a true story, and it truly is a story of sacrifice and bravery. It just didn’t hit home for me, but it might for you!
Thank you to NetGalley and the author for an eARC of Under the Cover of Mercy. A positive review was not required, only my honest opinion. All thoughts are expressly my own.
I had never heard of Edith Cavell before reading this book, and I am so grateful to Rebecca Connolly for writing about this amazing woman.
Edith's story of bravery and faith is so inspiring. I appreciated the perspective of living in Belgium when the Germans took over, and how hard it was to live in an occupied country. I admire Edith's sense of right and wrong, and that she was determined to help those who needed to escape from the Germans. She did this with grace and courage. I admire her determination to give her life for others.
I would have loved to see a more personal side of Edith's character, she felt very formal the entire book. I'm not sure if that's what she was like in real life, or if it's just the matron role that she held in the book.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, Rebecca Connolly, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinions.
Under the Cover of Mercy is based of true events of Edith and Lizzie two British nurses at the Red Cross hospital in Brussels Belgium during World War 1. It was refreshing to read about somewhere other than France/Germany/Poland. I found Ediths story to be interesting and want to learn more about the events in her real life in which the novel is based off. I did however find the book hard to get into. It started very slow and was full of more religion than I typically enjoy reading which made it hard to connect with the characters.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, NetGalley and Rebecca Connelly for the ARC.
This is a very moving imagining of the events that led to the trial and execution of Edith Cavell, a real British nurse in Belgium in WWI. The story unfolds through the eyes of Edith herself and Lizzie, another nurse who works closely with Cavell. Although the ending is known from the start, the story is well written and compelling, keeping you engaged. The author does a good job portraying the horrors of war and the terrible choices it forces on people, including Cavell. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Wow! What an interesting story about a nurse during WW1 that I had never heard about. The courage that Edith Cavell showed during this time is extraordinary. She was partially responsible for so many lives that were saved. I always hope that I would be as brave if put in a similar situation. So very inspiring!
The book is told in two perspectives, Edith and her No. 2, Lizzie. The characters are well drawn out, the emotion real. I wish we could have remet some of the men she helped, but maybe that is for another day or my own research. I wish the passage of time could have been shown in chapter headings, I think that would have allowed better understanding of how fast or slow things moved.
Another winner by Rebecca Connolly!
Edith Cavell is a Red Cross nurse who served as head nurse at Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels during WWI. This book is based on her life’s story.
Edith was torn by her duties as a nurse and her moral obligations as a decent human being to help save the lives of soldiers who needed to escape an almost certain fate of death. In her duties as matron of Berkendael Medical Institute, she had opportunities to help, and she believed it wasn’t only the infirm who needed her, but also those in danger. She succeeded in hiding and then leading hundreds of soldiers to safety during her time as matron. She understood the dangers but felt it was God’s will that she carry out this duty.
The true account of this courageous woman is inspiring and compelling. It is a very well researched novel with a true reflection of the horrors of war from this different angle. I give this book 4 stars. Thank you, NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the ARC.
This book was well written, enlightening, and heart wrenching. Unsurprisingly, I had not heard of Edith Cavell, so I dove into this story unprepared for the emotions it would evoke.
Edith was a Red Cross nurse during the first world war when the Germans invaded Belgium. She eventually began not only nursing the wounded of all nationalities but also helping allied soldiers escape the Germans. She could not bring herself to nurse soldiers to health and then turn them over only to become prisoners.
Edith's courage, determination, and faith are inspiring, but it becomes obvious that the consequences will be dire. I will leave it at that in order to avoid spoilers.
This book does have quite a bit of faith and religion, not in a preachy way, but because those were an essential part of Edith, her motivation, and who she was. Readers who wish to avoid those concepts might not enjoy this book as much. I highly recommend this to all other readers who are of an age to comprehend war (pg-13 level). Edith's courage and faith, and her determination to do good and see good in others even during horrific times are truly an inspiration to us all.
Under the Cover of Mercy by Rebecca Connolly was an absolute must read for me. Rebecca has long been one of my favorite authors. I am a nurse and I love stories set in WWI. Add in the fact that it is was based on a true story, and I just could not wait to get my hands on this one!
This book mostly follows the life of Edith Cavell, a nurse in the Red Cross in Belgium during WWI. She was compassionate and moved to serve wounded soldiers, regardless of their nationality. This landed her in a difficult situation, and I love that her faith, as she was a faithful practicing Anglican, sustained her through all that she faced. Overall, this is heavy story with a few moments of lightness, such as Jack the dog and in Lizzie her friend. Lizzie carries a good part of the story as well, but much of the emphasis is on Edith. It is full of historical details that rightly reflect this time-period and cause. If you like historical fiction based on actual events without romance, you will enjoy this one.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
This book was not quite what I expected.
Based on the life of Edith Cavell, a Red Cross nurse in Belgium during World War I who cares for her patients irregardless of which country they are serving. Once Germany occurs Belgium though, these sentiments are not welcome. She teaches and leads her nursing staff while also helping the Belgian resistance, with courage and conviction. The story is rife with tension between her personal convictions and the risks they pose not to herself, but to her staff, as the resistance begins to dwindle one by one.
A gave it a 3 for a monotone storyline. I realize it's based on a true story, just not a lot happens or changes as it progresses and felt a bit long. A story about a courageous woman and her impact on the lives of those around her. To be enjoyed by readers who like fiction based on true stories.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
The captivating historical fiction novel "Under the Cover of Mercy" by Rebecca Connolly follows the real life of Edith Cavell, a nurse and matron at the Berkendael Medical Institute during World War I. The book deftly explores Cavell's moral quandaries as she tries to strike a balance between the harsh reality of war and occupation and her duty as a nurse to care for all wounded people regardless of their flag.
The vividly detailed and realistic picture of the time period is evidence of the author's research, and the characters are well-developed and multifaceted, making for an engaging read. The conflict between Cavell's obligation as a nurse and her desire to rebel against the German army's oppressive treatment of Allied prisoners of war is accurately portrayed in the book.
It is evident that the author has a profound understanding and respect for the subject matter because the narrative is both thought-provoking and emotionally powerful. The book is a powerful tribute to Edith Cavell and her fellow nurses' bravery and devotion. It also serves as a reminder of the horrors of war and the value of standing up for what is right. For those who enjoy historical fiction and who are intrigued about the inspiring tales of ordinary people who made a difference in the world, "Under the Cover of Mercy" is a must-read.
I received this ARC through NetGalley, and although it was an “ok” read: there are a few points it was lacking.
The last 30% if this book was a great read.
But it was almost like the author needed to “find herself” and her writing style. And I could certainly tell where research was strongest, and where it was lacking,
The book is quite simply written, and the author does state in the acknowledgments that changing names like “Elizabeth” to “Lizzie” was for simplicity.
Readers don’t always want to be treated like we’re juvenile. There are a number of times where the author would “spell things out” for the reader, which really weren’t necessary and don’t add anything to the story. The same can be said for much of the description of events and characters in the first 1/3 of this book. I feel like I can almost tell what parts of Edith Cavell’s history/story the author was most knowledgeable and comfortable with, as the ending and most notorious (to the common public) parts were well written and far more descriptive.
At first, the storyline jumps around quite a bit in the beginning; small skips in storyline that take a minute to reorient yourself.
Personally, I would have loved the characters to be a little more “fleshed out”, and particularly their histories and the day to day activities more detailed. I do feel like a lot was skimmed over because not a lot was necessarily known. A novel about a nurse during the war aiding British soldiers shouldn’t be slow. There’s so much that could have been added, but events were overlooked. I can see how/why the author didn’t touch on the nursing aspects of this character/story but instead on the resistance aspect of things. But there is so much more that could have been added to give a broader view of the surroundings, the atmosphere, and the emotions.
But. All that to be said, this was a good read, one where you’re not going to sit and read it all in one day, but a good- rad a couple chapters a day, kind of books; that’s not too difficult to read, doesn’t take a whole lot of effort on the readers part, and still leaves you feeling engaged and interested.
This is a fictionalized account of the true story of nurse Edith Cavell, matron of a Red Cross hospital in Belgium during World War I after the German invasion. It is sobering and inspiring to read of Edith’s courage and faith in the face of wounded soldiers from many countries who needed medical care, but who needed to be hidden to avoid reprisals from the German military in occupation. The daily lives of the nurses and patients are given great detail, and the characters come alive under Connolly’s writing.
This is not light, easy reading. If you want a happy ending, choose another book. If you want to re-live what happened in Belgium during World War I, and learn how to face your own life with courage and faith, this book is well-worth reading.
"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own." #UndertheCoverofMercy #NetGalley
As a nurse, this story combined my love for the medical field with my love for good historical fiction! I thoroughly enjoyed this story!! I did crave a bit more depth to the writing - I felt it was a little lack luster at times.
Brussels, Belgium, 1914
The Great War has come to Brussels, and the Germans occupy the city, and Edith Cavell, the Head Nurse at Berkendael Medical Institute is faced with an impossible situation. Edith has sworn an oath to help any who are wounded despite their nationalities. Governor von Luttwitz has additional orders for her. She and her nurses must stand guard under the wounded Allied POWs and prevent them from escaping.
Edith believes God has called her to be a healer, not a jailor.
Members of The Belgian resistance desperate to help bring two British wounded and eventually to freedom bring them to Edith hoping that she will assist them. She makes choices that will see these soldiers heal and then smuggle them off to safety.
I found this subject hard to read, a nurse trying to do her job but also what she felt God was calling her to do as well. I was somewhat disappointed because a lot of the POV was from her fellow nurse and loyal friend, Lizzie(Elizabeth)Wilkins, and I wanted to hear Edith’s POV during this time as well, but that didn’t really get until the end of the story. Since this is based on a true story, the ending isn’t entirely a happy one, however, I did enjoy learning about a person I had never heard of previously. It was heartwrenching to read.
My gratitude to Shadow Mountain and NetGalley. All opinions expressed are mine.
I really wanted to love this novel, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me personally. I love historical fiction and I love reading about regions and events that I’m not already familiar with, and while I know some about Belgium in WWI, I was not familiar with the Red Cross nurses during the German occupation of Belgium.
The book is based on the real life figure of Edith Cavell, a British Red Cross nurse who runs a nursing hospital in Brussels. The chapters alternate between the point of view of Edith and the point of view of Lizzie, Edith’s friend and another Red Cross nurse.
I found the book fairly hard to get into, and slow going at first. I felt like I needed more action, more dynamics, rather than lengthy descriptions. I also found the extensive religious excerpts a little tedious and often ended up skimming them. I understand why the author included religion, given that Cavell was a devout Christian, but it made for very heavy, slow reading that I personally did not enjoy. If you’re a fan of Christian fiction, it may be more to your taste.
3.5 stars, rounded up.
WWI is not as well known as WWII. This story gives us a glimpse into the life of a little know heroine.
Edith Cavell, a Red Cross nurse serving in Belgium, cannot refuse any wounded solider. Over the course of time, she helped hundreds of British, French, and Belgium soldiers heal and escape.
She was committed to the task no matter the price. She looked to a higher power, God, for strength and wisdom to carry on the tasks she was called to.
I downloaded this because of the synopsis and the cover. I typically love historical fiction, and the fact that this book is based on real life occurrences intrigued me. Also, I was happy to read a book that is not set in the World War II era-World War I seems to be less overdone in historical fiction.
I'll start with my minor criticism of the book. The plot is fairly straightforward. There are no big twists, aside from the ending that is less of a twist as much as it is emotional. There's also not a lot of levity to counterbalance the serious plot.
As for what I loved-the book is well written. I really cared about Edith and Lizzie as well as the other nurses. The last half of the book really picked up and I read most of it in one sitting because I really needed to know the outcome. I don't want to inadvertently give spoilers so I won't say any more besides the ending got me in my feelings! (Also, if you are unfamiliar with the real life story don't research it beforehand. Save that for afterwards!)
I would 100% read something else by this author and I would recommend it to any lover of historical fiction. That being said, a reader needs to be in the right head space to tackle the heavy subject matter of World War I.
Good story, but very slow to read. Hard to get into, and overly religious descriptions. The characters needed to be more fleshed out. Overall not a terrible book.
Connolly honours Edith Cavell in this emotionally charged peek into the legacy of this British nurse and her work in Belgium during WWI.
“She had her personal convictions - extend compassion and humanity to all, be of service and do good, give life back to those who were on the brink of death - but she also held patriotic convictions, remaining wholly devoted to King and Country and staying firmly planted on the side of what was right rather than what was powerful. And those convictions were made of iron.”
Cavell’s life was a testimony to those who put their life on the line, defying the powerful enemy, for the defence and freedom of others. She was a powerful inspiration and Connolly writes to make sure history does not forget this gentle heroine.
To some, she was a British nurse, to others a martyr and for some a spy. Regardless, she was a courageous woman who put others’ needs before her own. She gave it all.
Cavell’s skills as a nurse were in high demand in Europe in 1914. She was eagerly accepted by the Red Cross and worked to save as many injured soldiers as she could. Edith never discriminated; every life was treated equally, regardless of nationality. When her hospital became part of German-occupied territory, Edith had a dilemma. Would she play it safe and give in to the demands to hand over the Allied soldiers or tend to them and offer them an escape at a risk to her own life?
The inclusion of Edith’s religious motivation added to this book. Despite knowing how it would all end, I still read on, hoping for an alternate ending! Connolly tapped into my emotions and in examining the war of terrible choices, showed that making the right one relied on Edith leaning on her upbringing and moral compass.
I loved the message of being willing to stand up for our principles regardless of circumstances and the encouragement to dig deep, find our humanity and ask what we can do to help another. What legacy do we want to leave? Is the sacrifice worth it?
The cover is fantastic and represents a beautiful image of the loneliness in standing alone, under the cover of mercy, receiving the strength to do what’s right.
I was gifted this copy by Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
I was excited to read about a new person in history I was unfamiliar with! Sadly, the story just dragged on! Events that should have felt intense felt too scripted, like reading a history book which was very disappointing. It was confusing at times which nurse, Edith or Lizzie, the story was being told from. Too many insignificant details (why so much towel folding) and not enough about actual nurse care or specific soldiers or escape runs. Just a very long drawn out narrative. I skipped to the end and found the last few chapters a bit better but still too many names and facts thrown at you that take you away from the story and into a history book.
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