Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin Guest Post and BOOK #Giveaway #LadiesInDefiance

sarah sundin

A man with thinning gray hair and a droopy mustache handed Lillian a prescription. “Mr. Dixon’s never had a clerk at the counter before.”

A common misconception, despite her white coat. “I’m actually a pharmacist.”

“But you’re a . . .” His nose wrinkled. “Girl.”

“Yes, and a pharmacist too.” She hefted up her sweetest smile and examined the prescription for digitalis. “Everything looks in order.”

Gray eyebrows drew together. “It’s for my heart. I’d rather have a real pharmacist fill it.”

In my new World War II novel, Anchor in the Storm, Lillian Avery works as a pharmacist in Boston. Her new boss is reluctant to hire a “girl druggist,” but the draft is siphoning off the male pharmacists. He relents, but worries about how his customers will react. With good reason.

When I attended pharmacy school at UC San Francisco, I was fascinated by a photograph on campus showing a class around the turn-of-the-century. There was one woman. I wondered what it would have been like for that woman, what drew her to the profession, and how she was treated.

Naturally, I was drawn to write a novel about a pharmacist in World War II. In my novel On Distant Shores, the hero served as a US Army pharmacist in an evacuation hospital in Italy, but I also wanted to explore the role of women in my profession.

pharmacy pictureIn the 1940 census, there were almost 82,000 pharmacists in the United States, but only 4 percent were women. When the United States entered the war after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, a labor shortage developed as young men enlisted or were drafted. On the West Coast, the internment of Japanese-Americans also hit the profession hard. Since most drugstores were staffed by only one to two druggists, when a man was enlisted the whole store was affected.

To compensate, pharmacy schools shifted the program from the traditional four years (new pharmacists at the time had a bachelor’s degree) to a three-year, year-round program. They began to actively recruit women. Ads of the time promoted a pharmacy education as being of “special value to the homemaker” with its emphasis on safeguarding health.

Although enrollment in pharmacy schools plummeted during World War II, from 8410 in the 1940-41 school year to 3349 in 1944-45, enrollment of women rose from 356 in 1940-41 (4%) to 1599 in 1944-45 (48%).

Although the female pharmacist found more opportunities, she still faced prejudice. Many stores still refused to hire women, even with the severe shortage. Also, some patients were reluctant to trust the new “girl druggists,” although most adapted to seeing a feminine face behind the prescription counter—same as they adapted to Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder.

Through Lillian Avery’s fictional story, I enjoyed showing the special challenges of a woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated profession—and showing her triumphs as well.

anchor in the storm

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance–and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

About the Author

Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.

The Giveaway

Thank you so much Sarah for sharing, and as a bonus, she has offered to giveaway a copy of Anchor in the Storm to one lucky winner. Due to shipping costs, the winner must have a US address. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run through May 17, 2016 and the winner will be announced on May 18.


About Heather Frey Blanton

"I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is ... and God loves us anyway." -- Heather Blanton

Posted on May 3, 2016, in Book Giveaway, Guest Post, Ladies in Defiance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. I am looking forward to reading Through Waters Deep. This sounds fabulous!

  2. Rebecca Maney

    I have read several of Sarah’s books, but need to catch up by reading “Through Waters Deep”. The pharmacist story line sounds wonderful!

  3. Definitely Through Waters Deep. All these books sound wonderful.

  4. Look forward to reading book 2.

  5. Lucy Reynolds

    I’ve only read Through Waters Deep. I would love to read all the ohers. Thank you for the chance.

  6. A memory between us comes to mind first. I would also love to read Anchor in the storm.

  7. I would most likely read A Distant Melody or With Every Letter first, since I already have those 2 on my Kindle.

  8. I am definitely wanting to read Anchor In the Storm first because I have read, enjoyed, and own all of her other books already!

  9. Looks interesting!! Love WW2 novels 🙂

  10. Sarah Sundin

    Thank you, everyone! I’m glad you’re enjoying the stories!

  11. I am looking forward to reading Through Waters Deep. 🙂

  12. Lynne M Feuerstein

    Thank you for this wonderful post,Sarah, I learned so much from it! I didn’t realize how hard it was for women to become pharmacists. Although even in an Andy Griffith show episode in the early 1960’s they were shocked when a lady pharmacist (or druggist as they said) came to town. Thanks Sarah for giving us another exciting look into history!

    • I agree Lynne! The book quote perfectly shared a day in the life of these women and what they endured daily. Really fascinating.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thanks, Lynne! Even today, when well over half of pharmacists are women (my graduating class was 73% female!), I hear things. When I answer the phone in the pharmacy and the physicians ask to speak to the pharmacist, I say I am the pharmacist – and you can hear the surprise in their voices. In 2016!!! But I’m thankful I never experienced the overt prejudice that my heroine did.

  13. I would love to win this book! It is so interesting to hear that physicians are still surprised by a female pharmacist. That is a career that has always fascinated me and I really appreciate learning the some of its history.

    • I forgot to say which book I would like to read – I would love to read any of Sarah’s books – I enjoy historical fiction especially from WWII

  14. Of Sarah’s books, I would like to read A Distant Melody first. I have never read any of her books, but they sound amazing! Thanks for the opportunity of this giveaway!!!

  15. Interesting post! I’d most like to read Through Waters Deep first since this current series is the only one of Ms. Sundin’s that I haven’t read yet (and I have to read books of a series in order!). Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. I’d like to read “a distant melody.”

  17. I’d like to read “Where Treetops Glisten”!

  18. I’d like to read Through Waters Deep to start this new series. I’ve read her previous two series and really enjoyed them.

  19. I would love to read the Where Treetops Glisten collection.

  20. jenny stratton

    I would like to read A Memory Between Us first but the whole series looks really good.

  21. I would love to read Through Waters Deep also!

  22. Hi, Sarah! I love that you’ve created a female pharmacist for this story. Lillian sounds spunky and up to the task of dealing with the prejudice against her as a “girl pharmacist.”

  23. I just finished reading Sarah’s Wings of Nightingale series so I am ready to jump into the next series by reading Through Waters Deep. Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. Gray eyebrows drew together. “It’s for my heart. I’d rather have a real pharmacist fill it.”
    I’ll have to ask my aunt if she ever encountered attitudes like this. She began her career as a pharmacist in the late 50s/early 60s.
    I’m two generations younger; I began practicing engineering in the mid-90s. At my first job, clients had to call us if they were going to shut down their fire protection systems. One of our admins directed a call my way.
    The man on the line said, “I’m holding for the engineer.”
    I said, “I am the engineer.”
    He was apologetic. “Oh I’m sorry, sweetie.” Then proceeded to tell me what they were doing. Awkward maybe, but kind, and I have a good story.
    I cannot wait to read this book!

  25. I want to read Through Waters Deep. It’s on my bookshelf! It looks so good! So does this one!

  26. It’s always good to start at the beginning, so I’d read “Through Waters Deep”…and I have it on my shelf to boot! A case of too many books & too little time 🙂

    Thank you for the chance to win this book!

  27. I would love to read Anchor in the Storm. I loved Through Waters Deep.

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