In a desperate bid to reduce the books that are collecting dust on my TBR shelves, I have decided to collaborate with another avid reader and fellow book reviewer, Nicole from Certified Book Addicts. The #20BacklistIn2020 challenge is a self paced challenge hosted by Jaylamm.Reads, Reading and Sunshine, and Cassidys.Bookshelf. The overall goal of this challenge is to read 20 titles from the backlist books that are currently sitting on your TBR pile. For this challenge I will be reading non review books and taking my selections directly from my chock-a-block TBR bookcases (there are two shelved back to back). I will be publishing my reviews of these books on my blog and social media sites on the first and third Tuesday of the month.
Home Front Girls is a story of unexpected friendship told through letters shared between two American women on the home front during World War II.
Loneliness is built into the fabric of this war, isn’t it? I say a little prayer before I stick my hand in the mailbox. The “Rockport, Massachusetts” stamp on the front of an envelope means the clouds will part, revealing a brilliant sun….
It’s January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother from New England, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a Midwestern professor’s wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. These two women have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.
Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.
Filled with unforgettable characters and unbridled charm, Home Front Girls is a timeless celebration of the strength and solidarity of women. It is a luminous reminder that even in the darkest of times, true friendship will carry us through.
Estimated TBR Shelf Life: Less than 2 months/6 years
Fields of the dead
And through it all, two women wrote
on paper with steady hands.
Home Front Girls is a story of the power of the written word, as letters are exchanged between two very different women, from one American state to another, in the heat of World War II. It is a story that opens our eyes to the home front experience, to the women left behind, while their loved ones fought in a war that they may never return from. Home Front Girls is a tale of unconditional support, the sheer loneliness of remaining home during wartime and the comforting feeling of a letter from a friend in these hard times.
Home Front Girls is a dual authorship novel penned by Suzanne Hayes Loretta Nyhan. These two writers both took on the roles of a lead character and bounced back the letters that would form the essential backbone to this novel, via email. Extra flourishes were added, in the form of secondary characters, telegrams and recipes. What emerges is a narrative that relies on the pure force of a letter to unveil a story of sacrifice, patience, anxiety, hope, fear, loss, heartache, support and above all, friendship. Joined by the power of fate, these two very different women find that the letters they pen to one another proves an essential outlet and a form of much needed support in a dark time. Home Front Girls commemorates the strength of the human spirit and the power of companions to change our lives.
In my attempt to complete the first book of the year for one of the challenges I set for 2020, the Backlist Book Challenge, I succeed in banishing not one, but two books from my backlist title pile – inadvertently! I purchased the wartime themed novel, Home Front Girls in November of last year. I then discovered upon reading Home Front Girls, that this book was originally published in 2013, under the title, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, a novel that I also had languishing on my TBR shelves. Therefore, for round one of this challenge, I technically, succeeded in evicting two books from my crowded shelves – what a great feeling!
Epistolary novels have gained in popularity in recent years, thanks to titles such as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. This memorable novel outlines the war experience for those on the home front. The dual penmanship of Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan has produced Home Front Girls. This is a story told through the main device of letters, along with telegrams and recipes. Home Front Girls outlines the American WWII experience, with a specific focus on those left behind at home to carry on with life’s duties.
Home Front Girls brings us an interesting dynamic. Glory and Rita, the two leads of this novel, are two very different women, contrasted in age, circumstance and location. However, a wonderful twist of fate brings them together and this unexpected friendship offers plenty of rewarding moments, surprises and shocks. These women trade their thoughts on everything, from gardening, to cooking, relationship issues and illness. There are moments of joy, but also despair. The desperation, the longing, the indeterminate nature of the war, and the isolation is felt deeply and conveyed well in Home Front Girls.
While I appreciated the well-drawn characters that hold up this tale, along with the secondary characters set, I was unable to develop a strong and lasting connection to Glory and Rita. I’m not sure why this was the case with Home Front Girls. Overall, I think was really a case of wanting to like the book more than I actually did. However, the authentic narration, believable period detail, extra flourishes in the recipes and clear references to the restrictions experienced by these home front women, pushed this one up just a tad more for me rating wise.
If you tend to skip the extras at the close of the novel, I do urge you to read both the updated April 2019 Postscript in the Home Front Girls version. Both Home Front Girls and I’ll Be Seeing You contain a Reader’s Guide, based at the back of the book. This bonus section highlights questions of discussion for book clubs, along with a conversation with the two author of Home Front Girls.
Home Front Girls is a compelling testimony of the importance of the written word at time of great peril. The reliance on friends, both near and far, during a time when humanity was tested to its very limits forms the backbone of this novel. I recommend this one to historical fiction fans, who have a particular interest in home front and the female experience of war.
*** 3. 5 stars
Home Front Girls by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan was published on 18th November 2019 by HQ Fiction. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.