Review of A White Wind Blew by James Markert
Overview from www.bn.com:
When the body fails, you’ve got two choices. Send a doctor in, or send a prayer up. And if neither works?
You’ll find Dr. Wolfgang Pike at his piano.
Music has always been Wolfgang’s refuge. It’s betraying him now, as he struggles to compose a requiem for his late wife, but surely the right ending will come to him. Certainly it’ll come more quickly than a cure for his patients up at Waverly Hills, the tuberculosis hospital, where nearly a body an hour leaves in a coffin. Wolfgang can’t seem to save anyone these days, least of all himself.
Sometimes we just need to know we’re not the only ones in the fight. A former concert pianist checks in, triggering something deep inside Wolfgang, and spreading from patient to patient. Soon Wolfgang finds himself in the center of an orchestra that won’t give up, with music that won’t stop. A White Wind Blew delivers a sweeping crescendo of hope in a time of despair, raising compelling questions about faith and confession, music and medicine,and the undying force of love.
This is a sad but beautiful story. Mostly sad though. Our main character, Wolfgang Pike, is both doctor and future priest but that was years ago. He has yet to finish his seminary training and is only about half-way through. His training was interrupted by a marriage that ended in the tragic death of his wife. When she died, Wolfgang vows to resume his studies, thinking that he can never love again.
In the meantime he becomes a doctor and gets a job at Waverly Hills, a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. It is the 1920’s and the preferred treatment seems to consist most of sun therapy, that is the patient is basically told to sunbathe in hopes that it will reduce the effects of the disease.
A few patients do seem to get better and they eventually make “the Walk” that shows that they are strong enough to leave the place. Those patients still have an uphill battle when they go out in the world among the healthy. But some of them come back to help others.
Wolfgang tells himself and the priests at the seminary that he is only staying at Waverly because he is needed there. TB has made a resurgence in the area and he wants to help but three years go by. Three years and he is showing no signs of leaving. And he seems to be falling in love again though he doesn’t want to admit it to anyone, let alone himself.
And there is the music. Wolfgang loves it, was raised on it. He will play to any patient at the hospital that asks it of him. And it seems to be working. Many of them are getting better.
When he finds some musicians and singers among the patients, he decides to start an “orchestra.” I put that in quotation marks because he only has three real instruments playing in this “orchestra.”
Some don’t like Wolfgang’s orchestra but in particular they don’t like the fact that he has invited some patients from the “colored” sanatorium down the hill to join with the whites. Some amateur clansmen will do anything to stop him, even killing those involved if necessary. They also don’t like the fact that Wolfgang is Catholic.
And now for the negatives. There are a few sexual scenes as well as some language but I didn’t find it that it overpowered the plot. I think the story might be a bit too sad for some but it wasn’t nearly as depressing as some of the books I reviewed in the past. At least there is a positive overall tone at the end so I didn’t find it to be too much of a downer.
So in summary, I guess, I liked though it might now be one of my favorites. Still I think I feel comfortable in recommending it to a friend or anyone else looking for some thought-provoking historical fiction.