This is a tribute not only to the brave soldiers who fought in World War II, but for those left at home, especially the women. The women who carried this country on their sholders for years.
When I started writing, “Letters from Georgia” I thought I knew most everything about WW2, but I was wrong. I knew very little about the people who lived it. Though some in my family lived it—some were soldiers who lived through it, and there were some who waited on their loved ones to come home. Most never wanted to talk much about it when I was growing up. All I really knew or thought I knew about the real people in that generation, I picked up from movies.
As I dug down deep into that time, researching what they wore, ate, drove, sang, thought, and where they worked, and how the family was structured, I was hooked. Every day when I sat in front of my computer, I could hardly wait to go back to 1942, the year when things changed for my heroine and her family. I learned about ration books, victory gardens, and saving everything. I learned that women took over the jobs previously held by men and kept this country going, and their families fed. I learned that the men who went to fight were far braver than I could have ever been. Young men, some still in their teen years, leaving everything they knew and loved to go to someplace they could hardly imagine, to fight an enemy they had barely heard about before the war. They were off to fight other young men who looked just like them.
Those left at home had their stories too. Some romances ended forever, some held on to the hope their boyfriend or husband would return. Mothers prayed constantly they would see their husband’s or son’s face again. Very few seemed to think the fighting would go on as long as it did. I read about sugar rationing, and gas rationing, but then more—it was cheese, bacon, leather goods, and on and on. It was all about use it up and wear it out.
As I went even deeper, writing about Dan and Claire, I tried to get into the feelings, the thoughts, the private lives of my characters, and I became Claire, the young woman letter writer from Georgia, and Dan, the soldier writing to her from the other side of the ocean, and I lived both sides. I was the young soldier who became disillusioned by what he saw when he arrived in England, and I was the young woman who wrote him hoping to cheer him up with news from home, and all the while wondering how the war was going to end her dreams. It was during that process that I felt for a few fleeting minutes that I understood what it must have been like. Or as close as one who did not really live it can understand.
We see Claire, who is left at home, and Dan, a new college graduate who joins the army, wrestle with fear, love, insecurity, doubt, and never knowing what their tomorrow might bring. And we see what it was that made America strong, what it was that got them through, and why so many young men, and some women as well, were willing to risk their lives. It was the ultimate sacrifice for love. Love of family, love of country, and the ideals that were considered sacrosanct.
Even in the time of war, life goes on; even when they can feel that tension under the surface of everything they do, it must. But there is light, and there is joy, and there are dreams still simmering below the surface too, and there are new people who come into their lives. Dan and Claire can’t help but change, and both go through that time on very different tracks, and with different priorities. Finally, the question remains, can what “was” hold things together or have they outgrown who they were? Are their dreams still the same or have things changed too much?
Two things I like to put into all my stories, grandmothers, and dogs. I don’t know why, but now they are my good luck charms and I always put them in. This book was no exception. In this case, Claire’s grandmother plays a huge role in helping Claire find her way. Her grandmother owns a bakery, and she brings Claire in to help her, she says, but it is really to keep her granddaughter occupied. She subtly offers advice as she helps Claire to see beyond the moment, beyond her current situation, and to imagine a day when things will be different, better. She gives Claire space to think and gives her hope.
As much as I admire the men who fought that war, it is the women and children who stand out for me in the story. The wife staying home to work and raise the kids, the kids trying to go on with their lives, and of course, the grandparents, some who knew all about world wars already. I came to see them as heroes too. It was the women who kept this country afloat during the war years. They did the work of men, did the work of women, as mothers, and kept things going. But the war changed them in other ways too. Women learned that they were smart too, and they could learn to do many things. They learned they could do the same jobs that some men had done, and all while raising a family, taking care of the house, making their own clothes, and growing their own food. This was a lesson that some never forgot. When the men went back to the factories, stores, and mills, and were paid twice what the owners had given the women, a spark was lit, and it still burns.
Vickie Carroll is the author of over a dozen books. From “sweet” romance to cozy mysteries, and even a ghost story, she is now branching out. In her latest book, “Letters from Georgia” in the new Sweet Promise Press series, “Letters from Home”, Vickie writes about a young woman who is separated from her father and new boyfriend by WW2. As she waits at home with the rest of her family, hoping the world will right itself, she learns that the war changes everything, including one’s dreams.
The book should be ready to order late June, or early July via Amazon. The second in her two-book contribution will be “Letters from England” so follow her on Amazon and you can get a notification of when it releases.
Meanwhile, Vickie, needing a break from WW2, is already writing another series for Whiskered Mysteries publications. It’s a cozy mystery series with Abby Spenser, a sassy amateur detective, who of course, has a dog, but there’s a twist. The book, “It’s Only Murder” is set in Sweet Magnolia, Georgia, and Abby is a real detective. The only catch is, she is forced to retire at 58 due to a health issue. But she can’t keep her nose out of the detective business too long, much to her ex-partner’s dismay. Vickie says she has never had so much fun writing a book because the characters are almost talking to her!