Band of Angels
Growing up in Wales, Catherine Carreg has been allowed to run wild, spending her childhood racing ponies along the beach with her friend Deio, the cattle-driver’s son. But Catherine is consumed by a longing to escape the monotony of village life and runs away to London with Deio’s help. Alone in the unfamiliar city, Catherine secures a position in Florence Nightingale’s home for sick governesses. As the nation is gripped by reports of war in the Crimea, Catherine volunteers as a nurse—and her life changes beyond all recognition. Arriving in Scutari, she is immediately thrown into a living nightmare. Amid the madness and chaos, Catherine is forced to grow up quickly, learning the hardest lessons of love and war.
Read an Excerpt
She so wanted her mother to be happy, but she never really was, and for the four years that her mother had suffered from the variety of illnesses, the headaches and bad backs and bouts of insomnia that were really all a kind of anguish, it had suited her parents to drop her next door, and Pantyporthman had become her second home.
There she met Deio. He was a few years older than she and, at first, tried hard to ignore her. Then, because the drovers were always busy, he’d let her tag along. She’d backed ponies, gone fishing, learned to stalk, to make a fire out of nothing, and, in between, they’d...see more
Poor Mother looked excited when Catherine got home. She had left the door to the parlor slightly ajar so that she could hear her coming. A fire crackled in the grate, the beaded lamp was lit. She had the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald on her lap.
“I’ve been making a list of all the things we can do now I’m feeling better,” she said.
Her face, pretty and flushed, had taken on the rose and amber colors of the lamp beads. “Look!” She handed over the newspaper. “There is sea bathing in South Wales. Sea bathing! We can take the coach from Caernarfon...see more
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Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. While on the drove Catherine thinks to herself, “life, for all its brutality, was a journey, an adventure” (page 92). Discuss how this reflects the overall theme of the novel.
2. Catherine has a multitude of men in her life. In what ways do her interactions with men help to shape her journey?
3. Throughout the novel heartache, loss, and disappointment often propel Catherine into action. Talk about those pivotal moments in the book. How do they help Catherine learn about the world?
4. Deio’s mother Meg describes him as “not bred for captivity,” (page 45) and his feelings for Catherine vacillate between his desire for her and his desire for freedom. How does this reflect some of the conflict between Catherine and Deio?
5. Deio seems both attracted to Catherine and repulsed by her while on the drove. What does this reveal about his attraction to her? About his personality?
6. During her interview with Lady Bracebridge, Catherine is irritated by the line of questioning and says to herself: “sh see more