When the World Fell Silent

Coming Summer 2024

1917 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

Nora Crowell wants more than her older sister’s life as a wife and mother. Instead, as WWI rages across the Atlantic, she trains as a nurse, becoming a proud and dedicated Bluebird—a commissioned lieutenant in the Canadian Army Nursing Corp. But she’s also in trouble and it won’t be long before she can’t hide it any longer…

Having lost her beloved husband in the trenches, Charlotte Campbell now lives with his snobby family, who treat her like the help. If it weren’t for baby Aileen, the joy and light of her life, the outlook for Charlotte would be very bleak indeed. She can’t wait to save up enough to move out and start over.

And then tragedy strikes in Halifax Harbour. An explosion levels half the city and nothing for these two women will ever be the same again. The devastation will cause their paths to cross in the most unexpected way, trailing both heartbreak and joy its wake.

This is a story of loss, and of hope against the most impossible odds.


“A beautiful, meticulously researched story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Set around a horrific tragedy that ended or altered thousands of lives in the blink of an eye, When the World Fell Silent is about two very different women struck by tragedy during some of the most shocking history in Canada’s past. Overwhelmed and broken by loss, each must struggle separately to survive, but when their lives cross unexpectedly, they are forced to make an impossible decision that will change lives forever.”
—Genevieve Graham, USA Today and Globe & Mail bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child

“Set in Canada during WWI, When the World Fell Silent is a triumphant, unforgettable tale of sacrifice, hope, and second chances. With the horrific backdrop of the Halifax explosion, and a twist that will have readers holding their breath to the very end, Alward has penned a depiction of life on the home front that resonates long after the last page. Moving and tense, When the World Fell Silent is a perfect story for fans of Genevieve Graham or anyone looking for a story about ordinary women who find their inner strength amidst unspeakable tragedy.”
—Renee Ryan, author of The Secret Society of Salzburg

When the World Fell Silent is a riveting tale about a little-known event in history: the Halifax Explosion during the First World War. Meticulously researched and full of atmospheric period details that will take your breath away, it’s an intimate portrait of two women whose fates are entwined in a most unexpected way. It’s the story of their resilience and survival in the face of unthinkable tragedy, and ultimately the power of love in all its forms. A captivating, wonderful read.”
—Julianne MacLean, bestselling author of These Tangled Vines

“Alward handles the aftermath of a Canadian tragedy with sensitivity, skill, brilliant writing and a truly fascinating, true-to-life cast of characters.”
—Lecia Cornwall, author of That Summer in Berlin
When the World Fell Silent is a richly detailed look into the lives of women on the home front during WWI, and how their lives were irrevocably changed following a tragic ship collision that resulted in an explosion in the Halifax Harbour Narrows. Donna Alward has penned a stunning historical fiction debut you don’t want to miss. A fascinating tale of resilience!”
—Eliza Knight, USA Today and international bestselling author of Starring Adele Astaire
“A rare novel that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Prepare to fall in love with Alward’s beautifully cast characters, as she explores the challenges faced by women during WWI, set against the backup of the Halifax explosion. Highly recommend!”
—Soraya M. Lane, best-selling author of The London Girls and The Secret Midwife

“In the span of a few short minutes, everything changes for Nora Crowell and Charlotte Campbell, the brilliant protagonists of Donna Alward’s latest historical novel. Set against the tragic backdrop of the Halifax Explosion, When the World Fell Silent is an enchanting story of love in all its forms, lost and found in the shattered remains of the city.”
—Bryn Turnbull, author of The Paris Deception

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