Will Howard, The Texas Bookshelf

“She’s pregnant as the book opens, but you wouldn’t know it. Jack Woodville London embarks successfully on his projected trilogy exploring some delicate domestic affairs. He weaves narrative with correspondence with news flashes – revealing the difficult times of Virginia, the young woman who finds herself with child and unmarried amidst World War II in a small Texas town, Tierra, nearer Lubbock than Austin, where such things are denied, lied, covered-up, and gossiped. Will, the young army doctor and father, is off to war in England and ignorant of his actions and responsibilities.

The emotional action in the novel builds through a series of deceptions. Obviously the pretend marriage is there. Virginia dawdles over telling Will. A local “official” story (a surprise to the pregnant Virginia) to save community integrity is that they had eloped earlier. Such a protective story is partially animated by another level of deception, her father’s high status and a key in the local black market and war rationing. Of course, Virginia’s brother can be a jerk.

As a work, poignant without the syrup, patriotic yet glancing under the table, the novel is less a romance, more historical and social commentary. If you’ve been advantaged to have lived in a small town, you’ll the little hallmarks, the kindnesses, the grudges, and the lack of a good place to hide your private French letters. London has hidden his under Vire’s covers, but I’ll tell you where to look for them. He’ll likely leave bread crumbs to the next installments.”

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