Dare Not Tell
Elaine Aucoin Schroller
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (01/2022)
In “Dare Not Tell” Australian WWI veteran, Joe Parker, travels to France on holiday and has a chance encounter with a little boy named Jean-Luc, who is seemingly lost on the streets of Paris. Their meeting leads Joe Parker to meeting the boy’s godmother, Sophie Holt. A close friendship develops between Joe and Sophie, who’s a nurse at the American Hospital in Paris. Gradually, they develop feelings for each other but are forced to repress them, being that Joe is married and has a wife and son waiting for him back home in Australia.
As the years pass by, they realize that a relationship between them will never be, so Sophie marries a colleague at work, while Joe goes back home. Down the road, Sophie and Joe both experience personal loss and pain which consequently causes them to meet up yet again during a time of war. However, Joe struggles with a deep secret that strains his relationship with Sophie; it is one so difficult that he fears it might break their relationship permanently.
With a beguiling beginning and bold storytelling throughout, “Dare Not Tell” will capture your attention from page one. Author Elaine Schroller is a very talented writer. The story made me think of the song “Just The Two of Us” by Bill Withers, which aptly describes the close bond between Sophie and Joe. The diction, the plot, the characters, are all proper for this time period and genre, and the author managed to whet my appetite to read on. Furthermore, each chapter opens with an extract from a poem by Australian poet, Henry Lawson, which add a delightful backdrop to the story. The epistolary interludes present in this book serve readers well.
Balancing between authentic/well-researched history and artistic creativity, the author narrates how WWI affected many, including those who were on the battlefront. The perfect symbiosis shown by those who were at home is also well represented by Sophie, who nursed the wounded soldiers at a U.S. hospital in Paris. The story pays homage to the many soldiers who lost their lives during WWI to the onset of WWII, and those who lost their loved ones during the bleak period.
The dialog present in this book is accessible for readers in modern times while it shows the devastating effects of the two great wars; the author manages to carve out a story of heartfelt love that creates a dreamlike atmosphere, making the touching novel a truly compelling read. I heartily give the book “5-stars.” It was endearing to see how two far-flung, lost loves managed to start all over after encountering such loss and pain. The author does not rush the plot and gives readers ample time to connect with the characters, a choice that made me feel like I knew Joe and Sophie personally. “Dare Not Tell” is a wonderful novel that fans of historical romance will delight in!