The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon
I bought this one for 10p from a community centre book sale, and what a bargain it turned out to be! I'm immersing myself in novels writtten during or about the Victorian period at the moment, and this one was a cracker.
Set during the Crimean war. Repressed Mariella is engaged to doctor Henry Thewell. He, and Mariella's cousin captivating and headstrong Rosa go separately to the Crimea, to lend their services in the hospitals there. News arrives that Henry is sick, and has come back as far as Italy. Rosa's letters cease. Mariella and a maid, Nora, go first to Italy and then find themselves drawn to the war in search of Rosa. Mariella has to face uncomfortable truths as she realises Henry has fallen in love with Rosa. She uses her impressive sewing skills to make herself useful in the Crimean hospitals, and continues the hunt for Rosa. During this time she changes from being a shallow, ineffectual young girl to a strong, determined woman. She finds love, she finds Rosa, but the real story is that she finds herself.
I very much enjoyed this novel, and will certainly search out more by this author.