Catherine Cookson remains one of my favorite authors. Though she passed away in . 1998, many of her works have withstood the test of time. Cookson’s main characters often face cruel hardship, and it is their ability to weather them and grow stronger because of them that makes her books so memorable. The two central characters of A House Divided are Matthew Willingham, a wounded World War II hero who is blinded in action, and his nurse, Elizabeth Duckworth.
Willingham comes from a prominent and well-respected military family; Elizabeth is from a family of lesser standing. It is Elizabeth’s compassion that gives Willingham the will to live. She is there for him as he recovers both emotionally and physically. Though Elizabeth has put us safeguards to protect herself from the men she tends too—falling in love with the wounded is part of the occupational hazard—she and Matthew form a strong bond which develops into something much deeper.
Eventually Matthew recovers enough to return home to his family, and the two become engaged but it is with the knowledge that Matthew will never be able to resume a normal life. His definition of normal has changed and he must find a new vocational path that will allow him to function with his physical challenges.
One of the reasons that Cookson is such a masterful writer is that she continually puts obstacles in the path of her characters. It creates suspense and romantic tension as Elizabeth and Matthew first find multiple reasons to steer away from their attraction for one another, and then must face roadblocks that keep them for being able to live a normal happy life.
I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say that both characters face increasing danger that jeopardizes their love for one another and their safety. The book comes to a strong, edge of the seat climax with the good guys winning out. I give this 4 ½ stars.