Waterloo Station
Emily Grayson
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Waterloo Station

Emily Grayson
William Morrow
208 pages
April 2003
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Eighteen-year-old Carrie Benedict is helping her grandmother, Maude Kendall, clean out her attic. Maude is selling her house and moving in with Carrie’s parents; the old house on Cheshire Road is too much for her to take care of with the recent death of her beloved husband Stephen, and it also holds too many memories. As they begin the job of sorting, Carrie senses that Maude has lost her zeal for life without her husband. But when she comes across an old book of poetry, Maude holds the book tenderly against her chest with tears in her eyes. She explains to her granddaughter the importance of the book and begins to share with Carrie a story of love and hope and rebirth.

In 1938, also then eighteen-years-old, Maude Latham leaves her home in New York to study literature at Oxford University because she wants "to know the world”. At Oxford, the young beauty becomes close with her married poetry tutor; soon that closeness deepens into love. Stephen Kendall is unhappy in his marriage and longs to know real love and happiness with Maude. But fate steps in with World War II and Stephen joins the Royal Navy, promising Maude that they will be together after the war and that he will divorce his wife and marry her.

Devastated and worried, Maude decides to make herself useful in the war effort by becoming a trauma nurse. As she treats so many injured and dying soldiers, she worries about never seeing Stephen again. Then a letter is delivered to her by one of Stephen’s men and its message is clear to her: he no longer loves her and has found someone else. Disillusioned with love and the promise it held for her, she throws herself into her work, doing her best to heal and soothe the soldiers and increasingly, the innocent citizens who had the misfortune of getting in the way of the bombs.

Dr. Allen Drake first noticed Maude when she started at Brackett-on-Health Hospital outside of London. Learning that she was already in love and waiting for someone, Allen respected her wishes and they continued as friends. Now that Maude has been set free by the letter she received, he pursues her again. Maude and Allen are soon a couple and seem to work in every way -- except for one. While Maude tries hard to give all of herself to Allen, there just isn’t enough left to give and Allen needs more. Maude believes there is something wrong with her, that she is so unsuitable that men are always breaking up with her.

When cryptic clues begin showing up in her crossword puzzles, it becomes apparent to Maude that someone is sending her a message and that someone can only be Stephen. Can he still be in love with her? Does he really want to see her again? And the big question... Does she want to see him again? Isn’t she over him?

Waterloo Station is a beautiful war-torn story about enduring love. While it is most definitely Maude and Stephen’s story, it is also a small slice of the stoic suffering and unselfish sacrifices made by so many people everywhere during WWII. Author Emily Grayson writes vivid characters who draw you in and make you feel their joy and pain. This is a tale that will stay with you and make you reflect on and appreciate the love in your own life.

© 2003 by Vivian Outen for Curled Up With a Good Book

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