In the summer of 1918 Margaret and Beatrice Jerome board the U.S.S. Mongolia, an ocean liner turned U.S. Navy troopship bound for wartime France. They intend to claim the body of their brother—Margaret’s fraternal twin—and accompany it back to the United States. “Our family doesn't want Michael buried so far from home,” Margaret tells fellow passenger Robert Butler.
Lieutenant Butler, a Medical Corps surgeon, continues to struggle with the mystery of parents who suddenly vanished soon after his fourteenth birthday. The experience makes him wary of close personal ties, but Margaret has captured his attention.
Unfortunately, his cautious advances cannot overcome Margaret's unspoken anxieties.
Michael couldn’t be dead, she rationalizes. If something terrible had happened to her twin brother, then she would have sensed his distress. But there was no premonition, no sudden sense of doom. How could she have been so oblivious to such a tragedy? Devastated by the loss and haunted by memories of sibling envy, Margaret stifles her nascent feelings toward Butler.
At Le Havre, they bid each other reluctant farewells.
In Paris, the sisters learn surprising details about their brother and his volunteer work with the American Ambulance Field Service. More remarkable discoveries follow, including an undisclosed romance with a nurse and a shocking revelation surrounding the unsolved murder of a decorated French officer.
Meanwhile, Butler's work as a frontline Army surgeon reveals more about himself than he ever hoped to discover.
Despite all that is happening in their lives, Margaret and Robert exchange letters and agree to meet in Paris should he get leave from his duties.
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