Choosing a book to read is a personal experience. There are numerous reasons which guide our choices and one of them is mood. For the majority of us, the primary goal is to enter book world and escape. Some of us stage our reading areas: warm blanket, soft pillow, comfy slippers, and hot chocolate.
Entering book world is like going on a vacation with a map. Sometimes we gripe out loud when a character doesn’t react as we want. We even scream at them out of concern (unless we’re in public). The point is readers interact with their book, but how many of us expect to break down in “instant tears”?
I’m tough. Critical care nurses learn to train their emotions for obvious reasons. While working with acutely ill patients I might be a wreck on the inside, but on the outside there is no sign of my inner turmoil. So when a book strips away years of training and makes me sob, I’m more than impressed; I’m grateful.
Let me be clear. I’m not talking about misty vision, sniffles, or the escape of a lone tear or two. I’m talking ‘sobbing’ as in noisy choking sounds. Not sure what I’m talking about?
One minute I’m calm and then this happens. The story hasn’t grabbed me by the throat; it’s got one hand on my heart and the other inside my brain. Knots tighten in my stomach and then they squeeze my gut like a python would. I’m clutched in a vise of chemical hormones, racing through my bloodstream. And when the tension is gripping, my breathing changes because I’m overwhelmed by an emotional tide. And then low and behold a river of tears exits. This is a golden stellar moment for a reader and proof positive they’re immersed in book world. Best of all, the author has won me over as a lifetime fan.
And as disgusting as instant tears makes me look, red-nosed, swollen eyes, and a bit embarrassed, I’m happy. When the tears end and I reread the scene, I find myself savoring each word. Suffice to say, instant tears are rare, so treasure them.
As an author, I know not every book can generate instant tears. Authors can’t schedule them to show up on demand. It’s a reader’s personal experience to a story and its characters, or so I thought until I wrote a certain scene in The War Nurse. I was overwhelmed, broken by a wave of similar emotions, but I’ll never know if that scene gifts a reader with instant tears. I can only hope.
Some books surprise us, don’t they?
My husband got the book, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes as a gift. I’d picked it up several times because of its page count, but I didn’t want to upset him by reading it first. I wasn’t its target audience, because Matterhorn is about a platoon of Marines in Vietnam. I read it in what can only be described as a ‘gorge fest.’ I mean I felt sick from lack of sleep, but man was it worth the slog.
Matterhorn nearly drowned me in instant tears. I honestly didn’t see them coming. Nor did I expect any when I picked up the book. My emotional tempest came out of the blue, like a rainbow after a killer thunderstorm. I curled up on the sofa and cried like a baby.
Have you experienced instant tears? Please share your moments in the comment section about the scenes that were so powerful they took your breath away, and left you with a sense of gratitude.
About the Author
R.V. Doon is a bookie! Seriously, she’s an avid reader who also loves to write. She writes across genres, but confesses she’s partial to historical fiction and medical thrillers. She’s addicted to black coffee, milk chocolate, and raspberries. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s learning to sail. Doon reports after a career of implementing doctor’s orders, she’s having trouble being a deck hand and following the captain’s orders. Doon lives in Mobile, Alabama, a haunted and historical city, with her husband and two dogs.
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About the Book
This historical thriller begins on the eve of WWII in the Philippines. Katarina Stahl an American Red Cross nurse, is the happiest she’s ever been in her life. She’s making love and playing music with Jack Gallagher in an idyllic paradise. Their medical mission is over, the boat tickets to home are purchased, and all that remains is to fly a sick child to the hospital at Clark Air Field.
She never expected to witness bombs falling out of planes. In those terrifying first minutes, she frees a German doctor accused of spying and saves his life. She turns to nursing the injured, unaware she’s unleashed an obsession more dangerous to her and those she loves, than the war she’s trapped in.
Doctor von Wettin, the man she freed, finds Katarina pregnant and starving in a POW camp after the surrender. He begs her to nurse his bed-ridden wife. She knows other Americans will despise her, but wants her baby to live after surviving Bataan. Their uneasy alliance is destroyed when she discovers he exploited Red Cross diplomatic channels and contacts at the German embassy to wire money to her parents. His benevolent mask slips when he informs her that her brothers and parents are interned on Ellis Island.
When the Stahl family is swept up in the FBI’s dragnet, Josep Stahl believes it’s all a misunderstanding. He’s interrogated like a criminal at the city jail, a military camp, Ellis Island, and then the civilian internment camps in Texas. His anger and pride blind him. One by one in this painful family drama, his wife and sons join him behind barbed wire in. There they face ostracism, segregation, and, most frightening, repatriation.
Katarina begins an even more terrifying journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The doctor threatens everyone she loves: infant son, POW husband, and Filipino friends. She’ll do anything to protect them; she lies, steals, and smuggles. As the war turns against the Japanese, they withhold the doctor’s wife’s life-saving medications until he finds a hidden radio inside the civilian internment camp. If Katarina refuses to help him, her son pays the price.
Survival has corrupted Katarina; but she’s not about to become his camp rat. After years of hell, she’s earned her nickname, war nurse. Doctor von Wettin is about to find out what that means.
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Read an excerpt from Chapter One