She was so proud of them. They were much braver than she could ever be. Really, they were much more everything than she was.
From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War. In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store. Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be. He is someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand. Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
Enjoy a sneak peek of Come from Away
by Genevieve Graham
The bittersweet truth these days was that there was a lot less laundry to hang. Standing on her tiptoes, Grace clipped her father’s blue-checked shirt to the line then reached for the next. The wind saw her working and rushed in to help, turning the shirts to balloons and flapping the sleeves so they seemed to wave towards the sea, and she paused from her work to appreciate the moment.
Sunlight sparkled off the water like diamonds, and a fishing boat drifted by. Grace had seen all kinds of boats in her twenty-one years. She’d watched the small in-shore fishing boats leave before sunrise and return in the dark of night, and she’d been aboard dories, schooners, rowboats, and canoes. Most were simple crafts past their primes, badly in need of paint and patching, but others were more impressive. These days all of them were overshadowed by the distant silhouettes of destroyers patrolling the shoreline. Those were quite a sight, and one Grace could not bear to watch.
Once upon a time her parents had sailed from Halifax all the way here, to East Jeddore, on a small white schooner with three young orphaned boys they’d rescued from the shattered debris of the Halifax Explosion. A few months later, Grace had come along and become their sister. As a family they’d built the fish plant, which supported not only them but the fishermen along the shore. Things sure had changed since then.
Grace picked up another shirt, pinned it roughly to the line, and reached for the next.
Her brothers were all grown up now, riding ugly metal ships somewhere, taking separate paths to a faraway war, while she stayed home to gut fish and babysit.
Harry was with the Merchant Marine, transporting supplies for the allies. Blinded in one eye by the Halifax Explosion twenty years before, he hadn’t been able to join the Royal Canadian Navy like his twin brother. Eugene was aboard the destroyer HMCS Sackville. His job was to hunt the greatest threat in the war: the German submarines. Just thinking of U-Boats made Grace shudder. The creatures reminded her of sharks, the way they prowled silently beneath convoys of merchant ships like Harry’s, shadowing their prey until they could take them out one by one.
The twins had always loved the sea, rode it like they were born to it, but their younger brother Norman stayed away from the water whenever he could.
“I don’t like not knowing what’s under my feet,” he said once. “The ocean’s black and deep and filled with creatures I don’t want to meet. Sure, I can live by the water, but when it comes right down to it, I’d rather not live on it.”
So he’d chosen the army. Her father had tried everything to talk him out of it, even speaking unexpectedly about his own horrible experiences in the Great War. He’d said the glory of invading the land was nothing compared to the hell of his being left to die on a burnt out field, his severed leg lying a few feet away.
But Norman’s mind was set. “I’m not you, Dad. You’ll see. I’ll come back in one piece. But I won’t do that until I’ve blown a few Nazis to kingdom come.”
And off he’d gone to enlist.
How could it have only been two weeks since they’d all gathered around the Halifax Harbour and said goodbye?
“Come on, Grace,” Norman had said. “No more crying. I’ll be back before you know it. Hey, maybe by then you’ll have finally found a man. But don’t get married without me, okay? I want to be at that party.”
She’d almost laughed at that. Some of her friends were already married with children. Grace, well, she’d never even been kissed. Worse than that, she’d never met a boy she wanted to kiss. To make her brother happy, she’d wiped her tears and smiled bravely up at him. Then he’d turned and boarded his ship.
The three Baker boys waved farewell from the decks, standing sharp and proud in their uniforms, their copper hair shining in the sun. Everyone on the docks flapped white handkerchiefs then used them to dab away tears. Long after she’d lost sight of her brothers, Grace stood watching, wondering what they were thinking. She knew they were courageous, and she understood their efforts to defeat the hateful German forces were important. She was so proud of them. They were much braver than she could ever be. Really, they were much more everything than she was.
With them gone, what am I supposed to do?
Tucking her hair back under her kerchief, she bent to pick up her basket and hoisted it onto one hip. She scanned the water one more time, but she knew she wouldn’t see the answer she sought.
She’d never promised Norman she’d stop crying. Couldn’t have promised that in a million years. But she’d smiled through the agony as she’d waved farewell to him and the others. She’d smiled for the children and their parents when they were weak. But when she was alone—which felt like most of the time—she let the tears come.
Everyone said the war would be over quick. That they’d be home soon. Grace tried hard to believe them, to convince herself it wasn’t so bad. But as she made her way to the house, she felt a familiar sinking sensation in her gut. It was hard to believe anything would ever be the same again.
Copyright © 2018 by Genevieve Graham
AUTHOR BIO: "Breathing life back into history one story at a time."
Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta she met a really cute guy in the chairlift line-up and soon decided she had to have him ... permanently. They subsequently moved to Calgary and brought two intelligent, beautiful, and talented daughters into the world. Since then they resettled in a small, quiet town in Nova Scotia and are loving their new life. They recently celebrated their 25th wedding Anniversary.
Come From Away by Genevieve Graham
Genre: Historical Fiction with Romantic Elements
Heat Level: 1
Language Level: 2
Violence Level: 2
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