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In the Fall They Leave: A Novel of the First World War

Joanna Higgins

February 21, 2023

Today I talked to Joanna Higgins about her new book In the Fall They Leave: a Novel of the First World War (Regal House Publishing, 2023).

Nineteen-year-old pianist Marie-Thérèse has dropped out of her prestigious conservatory in favor of becoming a nurse, much to her mother’s disappointment. As she begins her final year of study, Germany invades Belgium on its way to France. It’s 1914, and Marie-Thérèse’s world is upended by harsh rules and demands that students and staff spy on each other. The matron of the school, who is based on the historical Edith Cavell, is a nurse whose courage saves numbers of Belgians. Her decision to secretly treat all who need help has consequences for everyone on the staff. Marie-Thérèse, while perfecting her ability to bandage wounds and treat patients, becomes friends with German soldiers, falls in love with the two little orphaned girls who’ve been living at the clinic, and risks her life to follow the matron’s courageous defiance of the German army.

Joanna Higgins is the author of Waiting for the Queen: A Novel of Early America, a novel for young readers, as well as A Soldier's Book, Dead Center, The Anarchist, and The Importance of High Places, a collection of short stories. She grew up in a small northern Michigan town on Lake Huron, not far from where the young Ernest Hemingway spent summers and an occasional winter. Higgins received her PhD from SUNY-Binghamton, where she later studied under John Gardner, and she currently lives in upstate New York. When she’s not reading and writing, Joanna loves to hike with her family and cuddle her three rescue kitties.

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