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The Walnut Tree (Bess Crawford #4.5)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,351 ratings  ·  249 reviews
"I was in Paris the day the French Army was mobilized."

In 1914, while visiting her friend Madeleine, Lady Elspeth Douglas's life is thrown into chaos when war breaks out and the Germans quickly overrun Belgium, threatening France. Having just agreed to marry Alain, Madeleine's dashing brother, Lady Elspeth watches him leave to join his unit, and then she sets out for Engla
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
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I am a fan of Charles Todd. I have read all of their books. This one, set during WW I , showcases the nurses who performed so heroically during that war. In fact there are cameo roles from Bess Crawford and her flat mates. I liked the Scot plot line and the history that went with it.
But, overall, I did not think this love story was up to the standards of their previous books. I hope this was just a one time, buy this book by excellent authors, for a Christmas present addition.
Kathy Davie
Series: Bess Crawford, a short story spin-off

This is a romantic peek in at one of Bess Crawford's fellow nursing sisters during World War I.

My Take
I was so disappointed in this. I was expecting Todd's usual high-quality writing and instead, I got this dreck. Yes, it's a cute story. In all its highly clichéd glory.

Girl has met boy who is best friend's brother, drooled over him, and he finally sees her as an adult. On the brink of war, boy asks her to wait for him. Girl then meets true love with
Diana S
Wow! I found new authors and a new series by reading this book. Charles Todd is actually a pseudonym for the mother and son writing team of Caroline Todd and Charles Todd and they write the Bess Crawford mystery series.
Our heroine, Lady Elspeth Douglas was in Paris the day the French army mobilized in 1914 and her life was never the same. She wasn't the type to just sit there and rolled bandages like all the upper crust women of her society did. She wanted to do more for the war effort. She took
Jan 08, 2013 kari rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I must learn to choose my books more wisely. This was nothing like I expected and thoroughly disappointing.
What I expected:
This is the story of a titled young Scots woman named Lady Elspeth Douglas and how she joins the nursing corps during World War I. Intriguing, no?
How is this girl, raised on a landed estate with servants to cook, clean, see to her wardrobe, help her dress, how is she going to adjust to being on her own, facing danger with no one but herself to rely on?
How will she endure
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
I believe it's official. I am a complete Charles Todd fan now. I believe I've read at least 5 of his books and his writing style is incomparable to any other author I've read. Each time I read a Bess Crawford book, I truly believe I am seeing and hearing things from the characters own point of view and that's why I believe his books are so addicting. You begin to care about the characters, in this case Lady Elspeth Douglas, who is struggling the social binds that require her to marry into her so ...more
This "holiday tale" only featured a mention of Christmas and a decorated tree. It was a romance (not my cup of tea) as Lady Elsbeth Douglas goes back and forth to France at the outbreak of World War I. Really? She becomes a nurse and going back and forth becomes easier. She becomes engaged to the brother of a French friend, and meets a Scottish officer and sparks fly. The story was hard to believe especially as Elsbeth keeps running into Scottish minor royalty who are part of the British army in ...more
I had been looking forward to reading this book and was so disappointed. I am a big fan of the Charles Todd team and love their other two series. This seemed to be written by someone completely different. No depth to it--plot was pedestrian. I kept waiting for it to really start, so I could enjoy it and be as captivated as I have been by their other novels. It never happened. I felt like someone was giving a book report of a book they read.
Sentimental fluff from the authors of the Bess Crawford & Ian Rutledge mysteries. Very basic uplifting holiday tale; there's none of the depth of their better mysteries. Eminently skippable.

Didn’t like this much at all after I was part way through it. Usually I’ll warm to books, this one didn’t do the trick. Was willing to like it as I like several of the Ian Rutledge books by Todd but this mystery / romance left me unimpressed.

Lady Elspeth Douglass –an aristocratic girl who wanted to keep it from people so it didn’t change how they acted towards her. So how does she react toward other people: she lies to them, she manipulates them, she takes advantage of their goodwill and kindnes
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Alain told Lady Elspeth Douglas not to worry as he went off to fight and she stayed home with his ring on her finger because the war would be over by Christmas. Little did they know that the war would NOT be over by Christmas.

Lady Douglas decided that she didn't want to just sit around and wait so she joined the Nursing Sisters...she meets Todd's famous Bess Crawford during this time. Since Lady Douglas was born and raised in a privileged household, it was unheard of for a woman of her class to
WARNING - Possible spoilers

2.5/5 - Incredibly predictable and cliche. The daughter of a Scottish Earl, deceased, goes to France to help her friend Madeleine as she prepares to give birth. War is breaking out and Lady Elspeth falls in love with Madeleine's brother (whom she had a crush on during their school years). The men are sent off to war, baby arrives, and then suddenly Elspeth decides she must return to England. But, by this point, the trains and ports are filled with soldiers arriving, w
Tara Chevrestt
A unique holiday tale...of heartache, unrequited love, despair and hope both, and a woman who does what she feels is right and follows what she feels is her path.

WWII. Elspeth is in France when all hell breaks loose. In the excitement of the moment, she agrees to marry Alain, her best friend's brother, even though she really only feels for him the way she does her fondest cousin. But she doesn't know or understand this at the time...some things come with maturity and war makes one grow up fast.
Source: Free copy from William Morrow/Harper Collins in exchange for a review.

1914, World War I.
Lady Elspeth Douglas is in Paris, France when war with Germany begins. She is in Paris, visiting a long time friend named Madeleine, who will soon have her first baby. Elspeth, begins a relationship with her friends brother Alain; however, war calls him away before the relationship advances. During her journey to escape France, Elspeth encounters war first hand. She also reconnects with an ol
Gloria Feit
A change of pace for this mother-son author team: A love story, rather than a mystery. But still set at the start of World War I, with insights into the British class system and the horrors of war. It is the story of Lady Elspeth Douglas, torn between the attractions of two men, duty, and the iron hand of her guardian stifling her independent nature.

Just before the outbreak of war, Elspeth is in Paris, at the behest of her pregnant friend who is awaiting the birth of her first child. After the b
Dec 23, 2012 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
This was a surprisingly interesting, albeit quick, read. The Walnut Tree tells the story of Lady Elspeth Douglas who, after having returned to France to visit a friend, finds World War One breaking out around her. Lady Elspeth has only just agreed to marry her friend's brother, Alain, when he is mobilized for war. She attempts to return to England, but finds herself trapped on the French coast. There, she encounters an old family friend, Captain Peter Gilchrist, and in the midst of battle, finds ...more
Barb Klein
“The Walnut Tree” by Charles Todd is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It is published by William Morrow an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The story begins in France, in July, 1914. The Germans are poised to enter France through Belgium. The British have issued an ultimatum that if the Germans invade Belgium then England will declare war on Germany. It is the start of World War I. Lady Elspeth Douglas of Scotland is visiting her friend Madeleine and her husband Henri. Made ...more
Originally published at Reading Reality

If you're looking for something to tide you over until Downton Abbey finally starts up again in January, take a look at Charles Todd's World War I Christmas romance, The Walnut Tree.

And if you happen to be a fan of Todd's Bess Crawford mystery series, you're in for a real treat. The heroine of The Walnut Tree is one of Bess Crawford's London flatmates, so there is a glimpse into Bess' world from a slightly different perspective. There's even a touch of myst
Kathy Moberg
This is not a mystery. And, this is a novella, not a novel. I recommend taking it out from the library, which is what I did. The story is quite good and held my interest while also giving me a lot of fascinating information on some aspects of life in England and France at the very beginning of WWI. Best of all, it allows the reader to get to know one of Bess Crawford's roommates very well! For that reason, I'd say it's a "must" for fans of Todd's Bess Crawford mysteries. It is also a nice, quick ...more
Oct 11, 2014 Margo added it
The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd
This is a story about a girl from Scotland that takes place during World War 1. It describes the hardships that the people went through both in England and in France
After 80 pages, I'm completely bored and unsure why I'd want to continue. The writing is dull and all tell, no show, and though I can see some of the parallels between "Downton Abbey" and Lady Elspeth's desire to shirk the confines of her title and become a nurse, the connections end there. The story has no emotional core and, as I'm disconnected from every character in the book, I'm giving up.

Also, a holiday tale? Not sure how this could be construed as a Christmas story -- though perhaps that

I called this review Memories as I grew up in WWII in Europe and living a life in wartime I appreciated the strong characters in The Walnut Tree. The fear of the war itself, and the loss of loved ones was felt in my heart very strongly. The strong family ties made for an emotional read. Lady Elspeth,having grown up protected and safe found out as many women did in the first half of the 20th century that were, in fact very capable of dealing with a career and was not as frail as women wer
Really a 2 1/2 star book, I'll bump it up since I usually like the Todd books...

First, some of the elements that make the Bess Crawford series and the Rutledge series so interesting are there in terms of the historical detail. In this one, Elspeth joins the nursing corps, so there are plenty of scenes of the aftermath of battle. Still, Elspeth seems to move around quite a bit, and the focus is sometimes on unnecessary detail rather than on substance (do I really need to know all the ins and outs
Having read all the Inspector Rutledge books and a few of the Bess Crawford books, I thought I'd try this stand-alone story. This one is set during WWI also. Lady Elspeth Douglas, the daughter of a deceased Scottish earl, finds herself in France at the beginning of the war as the Germans break through to France. After seeing the chaos, the suffering, and the need while trying to make her way to the coast to return to England, once back in England, Lady Elspeth joins the nursing service to help w ...more
Lady Elspeth Douglas has always planned to marry for love, but love is more complicated than ever with the arrival of World War One. She promises herself to Alain, the French brother of her dear school friend. Then Alain leaves for war before the engagement can be finalized. While returning to England, Elspeth is moved by the plight of soldiers and tries to provide them what comfort she can. Accidentally she finds herself on the front lines where she meets Peter, the friend of her close cousin. ...more
A moving, beautifully written story with a protagonist you quickly come to care deeply about. Lady Elspeth Douglas is in France when World War I breaks out, and in the course of making her way back to England, the suffering she sees among the first soldiers returning from the front impels her to join Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Knowing her guardian would believe that this service is beneath a woman of her class, she signs up without getting his permission or revealing he ...more
Lady Elspeth Douglas has promised that she will marry Alain, the brother of her best friend Madelaine. While both Alain and Madelaine's husband, Henri, go off to fight in the first world war Elspeth decides to train as a much needed nurse. While she occasionally works side by side with Bess Crawford, Bess only has an occasional mention in this story of war and love. (Thus it is not a Bess Crawford mystery.)

All the characters in this story suffer the ravages of war in one way or another. They als
Mary Ronan Drew
Those of us who love the Bess Crawford series of mysteries by Charles Todd need to know about this little novella, The Walnut Tree, about another World War I nurse, Lady Elspeth Douglas. Bess has a walk-on role in the story . . .

To see the rest of my review go to my blog at:

Lady Elspeth Douglas, witnesssing the horrors of WWI France firsthand, joins the Nursing Sisters. She promises her love to a childhood friend but then meets her true love as his unit is retreating from the front line of battle. Going back and forth from France to England shuttling the wounded, she also finds time to help Scotland Yard nab a ring of art looters. This book is a stand alone story featuring characters from Todd's Bess Crawford series. While the book was OK, I felt that there was too ...more
Betty Strohecker
Visiting a friend in France, Elspeth Douglas is caught up in the beginning of WWI as Germany attacks Brussels. Trying to get home to England she comes in contact with wounded soldiers and does her best to help. Once back at home, she is haunted by the horrors of war, and feels she must go back to help. She secretly trains as a nurse in London, because this type of work is below her station and would not be allowed by her guardian. Elspeth ends up back in France, where war, friendships, and survi ...more
The book was a slow go in the middle but I liked the end. It is not a sappy holiday read. in fact it has little to do with any holiday. I like the fact that it is not about a withy washy woman trying to decide between two men but rather a story about how war changes everyone's story in an instant. Tough life decisions must be made and nothing is a given anymore. I would say this book leans toward the historical fiction side. It would be interesting to talk about in a group, what were women's rol ...more
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Charles Todd is the pen name used by a mother-and-son writing team, Caroline Todd and Charles Todd.
More about Charles Todd...

Other Books in the Series

Bess Crawford (7 books)
  • A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
  • An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, #2)
  • A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford, #3)
  • An Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford, #4)
  • A Question of Honor (Bess Crawford, #5)
  • An Unwilling Accomplice (Bess Crawford, #6)
  • A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford, #7)
A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1) A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #1) An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, #2) Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2) A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford, #3)

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