3 out of 4 stars
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When War Ends by Patricia Tomlin, the first book in the Roses Have Thorns series, is a historical fiction novel set around the English Civil War. Catherine is a young, Puritan girl of sixteen when she meets Martin, a well-off Protestant, who is four years older. They cultivate a firm friendship, and later a romance. Meanwhile, fearful tensions are rising in England due to the beginnings of a war between supporters of King Charles and those who stand with Parliament. Despite Catherine and Martin’s religious differences, they are determined to be united in marriage, a proposal Catherine’s father can’t bear to accept due to his deep devotion to the Puritan faith. Things get more difficult as a thief (Ted Morgan), who Martin caught in the very act, seems hellbent on killing him, Martin prepares to join the Civil War as a Parliamentarian, and his younger brother, Robert, resolves to fight for the King. What will become of Catherine and Martin’s affections? Will Catherine’s father budge or will their relationship suffer? Will Ted Morgan succeed in his pursuits? What will become of Robert and Martin’s relationship? Will the war put an end to what could have been a happily ever after? Strap on your seatbelts - it’s my hope to see you off on this amazing ride.
When War Ends was wonderfully woven together with the author's attention to detail, the wholesome characters, the thrill of the war, and the tensions between families and faiths. Before reading, I figured I would split my reading sessions into numerous sittings. Now, I humor the thought that I even had a choice! I could not put this book down. I absolutely enjoyed the characters that made up When War Ends. Though there was quite an array of them, I found them all rich and lively, and I can’t think of a single character I would describe as shallow. Whether I was introduced to a character at the beginning of the story, or near the end, I felt like I knew them on some basis. What I enjoyed even more were the relationships these characters shared. Relationships in this book were not presented as perfect - not at all. Relationships were shaped by trials and misfortunes but also love.
Another aspect of When War Ends that I liked were the tensions that arose throughout! There were a few strifes to keep me on the edge of my seat: Martin vs. Robert, Martin vs. Catherine’s dad, King vs. Parliament, Martin vs. Ted Morgan, Scarcity vs Wealth, etc. In addition, the unpredictability of the storyline was like a breath of fresh air. A couple of times I thought I had a fair guess on how things were going to turn out, and a couple of times I was absolutely wrong. Those surprises just added to the thrill of reading. Touching on the structure of the book, the story is written in the third person. While it consists mostly of Catherine’s and Martin’s perspective, readers get a few glimpses into other characters’ thoughts and feelings throughout the book.
There were many things I enjoyed about When War Ends, but I must make mention of what many would consider its biggest drawback. There were many grammatical errors in the novel. Most of the ones I caught had to do with punctuation rather than spelling, and the same type of errors repeated themselves. For example, a semi-colon frequently took the place of a comma: “For days she had found herself pausing in the middle of the work she was doing; just standing lost in dreams.” Also, I found at least two places where the author mixed up the names of the characters in an interaction. For example, instead of referring to Isaac, the author mentioned Thomas: “Thomas woke to the thunderous banging on the door. Throwing a cloak around his shoulders and with calming words to Elizabeth…” Personally, the grammatical errors weren’t obstacles for enjoying When War Ends. The rich plot and characters made up for whatever damage the mechanical errors could’ve inflicted.
Another thing that’s important to know is that When War Ends does touch on a difficult topic for some, and that is sexual assault. A character was raped in the novel, but fortunately, the encounter was not described graphically. For readers that tend to steer away from sexually explicit scenes, there is none to fear here. I recommend this book for those who don’t mind getting a history lesson or two and can handle a few graphic war scenes, and the rape of a character. I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars. I would have loved to rate this novel a four because it truly was a phenomenal read. However, grammar weighs heavily on the quality of a book, and it was not the greatest it could be.
I enjoyed learning about the differences between Puritans and Protestants despite the common faith they shared, feeling the rush of the war scenes, experiencing emotions as I read along, and anticipating what would come next. When War Ends was an unforgettable whirlwind of events.
When War Ends
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