Today Wednesday Writers welcomes author Pat Jeanne Davis to the blog. Pat will be sharing some research info that deepened her inspirational historical romance When Valleys Bloom Again. She also has an excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure. Welcome, Pat.
While conducting research on penicillin for my novel, I came across fascinating information that added an element of depth to the story. I discovered a connection between my hero’s hometown and the production of this life-saving medicine.
In the partial scene below from When Valleys Bloom Again, our soldier, Jim Wright, awakens in strange surroundings with only a hazy memory of what happened to him. Gradually, it becomes apparent he has sustained a serious injury to his leg when he and his comrades came under heavy shell fire as they sheltered from German artillery. Jim, having scraped through that ordeal, now lies in a field hospital.
Jim and other allied soldiers who stormed the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944, struggled through enemy lines. Thousands died instantly or were severely injured. The prospects of recovery and rehabilitation were greatly enhanced with the use of penicillin.
The history of penicillin ranges from its discovery in 1928 by the Scot, Alexander Fleming, and its subsequent development in the 1930’s by British scientists Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain to a laboratory in Pennsylvania’s Chester County, “the mushroom capital of the world,” where it so happens our hero Jim lived and worked prior to his enlistment in the US Army.
Granville Raymond Rettew, a Pennsylvania chemist and mycologist (expert in fungi), followed with interest the research carried out in Britain during the early 1940’s. The barrier to date was the difficulty of stabilizing the drug and producing it in sufficiently large quantities. Through his experiments Rettew demonstrated the antibiotic properties of ‘spawn’ extracted from the mushroom. Later, in collaboration with the American pharmaceutical industry he pioneered a method for the production of penicillin on a massive scale.
By D-Day millions of doses of the drug were made available for the treatment of Allied forces, saving many from infection, crippling injury, and death.
When Valleys Bloom Again
By Pat Jeanne Davis
As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.
Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?
Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?
Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again
July 4, 1944
An evacuation hospital in France
Dreamlike, Jim hovered between upper and nether space. He lay there, disconnected from time, place and self, and forced his eyes open. Daylight filtered through the canvas sides of a tent, stabbing his eyeballs. He tried to sit up, his head hurt and his lower body ached to beat the band.
Boxes of various sizes stamped with a bright red cross and heaped in untidy fashion, lined one corner of the room. A tall, white metal cupboard, piled high with bandages, stood in the opposite corner. He fell back on the cot, catching the familiar sound of truck motors revving in the distance, their gearboxes clanking, and muffled voices barking instructions. Where was everyone?
His only memory was of taking shelter in a forester’s hut during a battle. Two men from his platoon were hunkered down with him, waiting for the barrage to cease. On the hill overlooking their position, they’d encountered a German battery in a grove of trees. He could still hear the thud … thud … thud, as shells sought their range, and feel the pressure waves that engorged the tiny space in which he was crouched, compressing his chest, driving out his breath with a double gut punch. The nauseating, blood-taste sensation as myriad sharp, heavy blows beat about his back and shoulders. And the searing pain in his legs, as though they were being sliced into a thousand pieces. He remembered screaming, his motions slowing, then nothing.
Again, he tried to sit up and do an examination of himself, prodding the thick bandage on his left arm. He touched his heavily wrapped head and groped around his upper body. His clumsy investigation served only to increase his anxiety. He dare not look down at his legs, afraid of what he might—or might not—find. What would the pain be like when the anesthetic wore off?
Want to read more? You can find When Valleys Bloom Again at Amazon
About the Author:
PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in mid-twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here http://www.patjeannedavis.com/