London offers the reader an engaging perspective on World War II from the home front with this first book of his French Letters trilogy. Small town life in the Texas Panhandle town of Tierra on the surface seems simpler than life today, but wartime shortages and rationing and the constant uncertainties of whether their young men would return alive complicates everything. Primarily told from the naive viewpoint of youngster Sandy, who quickly learns to understand things far beyond his years, the book illustrates how Tierra’s citizenry copes.
The newspaper announcement of Virginia’s elopement with her doctor-soldier boyfriend, serving in Europe, surprises her as much as the rest of the town — an announcement designed by her father, without her consent, to provide cover for her unplanned pregnancy. The news of her pregnancy and their elopement would have certainly surprised her “husband.” London’s nearly poetic prose weaves several apparently separate stories into a convergence and a surprise ending.
“French Letters: Virginia’s War” provides a bittersweet, nostalgic picture of life on the near side of a global war, while allowing you to enjoy a well-told story involving characters about whom you will care.
Reviewed by Walter Shiel