This engaging trilogy, French Letters, opens with a scene from a small Texas town, affected like most of the country, by World War II. Populated by characters both engaging and exasperating, the action is never dull. From a bump on the nose to a baby bump, the activities in one small town easily fill the first book in the series, “Virginia’s War: Tierra, Texas, 1944.” And by the end of the first book, readers will be wishing that they already had the next volume in hand.
The main circumstances of this story focus on Sandy Clayton, a small boy whose energy and interests always seem to keep him front and center of Tierra’s happenings, and Virginia Sullivan, a young woman whose recent pregnancy is less surprising to her than the activities of her own family. Whether it’s her newspaper-owning father announcing an elopement that never occurred or her brother Bart posting her personal letters on the bulletin board of the Post Office, something unexpected is always at hand.
Then there’s the back story of Virginia’s friends, the boys who went off to fight the war: Will Hastings (of the reported marriage), his brother Peter, Hoyt Carter, and Johnny Bradley, not all of whom will make it through. Whether set on the home front of Tierra, Texas, or on the fields of France or the islands of the Pacific, there is grief to be suffered, but also strength and companionship among these friends from Texas.
Author Jack London has given his readers a great opening salvo in “Virginia’s War,” something to sink their teeth into–a town worth exploring, interesting and complicated relationships, power struggles, and overshadowing it all, a World War. If London can keep up the pace of “Virginia’s War” into volume two, he will surely have a winning trilogy on his hands.