Rebecca Daniels shares the letters, thoughts, and memories of her parents, Alec and Mary Daniels, mostly during the time when her father was serving in Europe during World War II. Accompanying each letter or story from her parents, Daniels provides the rich history of what was going on in the war, the country, and/or the military at that time. The history is well researched, and the letters of her parents are an interesting look at what it was like to write letters that they knew were going to go through a censor.
The importance of letters and the post office in general really resonated with me as well. In this day of smartphones, Facetime, and quick emails, few people really think about hand-written letters, but they were the lifeline of families during WWII. Both the soldiers and the families waited hopefully for the post, and when it finally came, drank in the only communication with their loved ones they may have had in weeks or even months.
One of the most poignant quotes for me came from Daniels’ father about the nature of war. I myself have never been in a war zone and would not presume to know what it is like, but his words rang true for me. When talking about a Christmas celebration during the war in December 1942, he said: “…The dinner was a great success and everyone forgot their trouble for a moment and had a grand old time. You see, Mary, a war isn’t all that you think it might be. You just have to be in one to understand how people live almost as they would if no war existed, except for short periods of extreme activity.” Of course, he couldn’t put anything more descriptive than “extreme activity,” or it likely would have been censored.
The letters and snippets of stories from Mary Daniels showed a woman of deep thought with real writing talent. I am the spouse of a retired military member, and when Mary described what it was like living near a Navy yard, that instantly brought me back to my own time living on military bases, and my own visits to Navy shipyards. Mary’s writings that were provided show she had a talent for connecting with the reader.
This is a well-researched and interesting memoir, and really provides a window of what things were like for World War II era couples, separated for so long but trying to keep the lines of communication open.
This is a great tribute from Rebecca Daniels to her parents, and a thoughtful history of what life was like at that time.
I downloaded the book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow it for free. I also received a PDF from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Daniels (MFA, PhD) Rebecca Daniels taught performance, writing, and speaking in liberal arts universities for over 25 years, including St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, from 1992-2015. She was the founding producing director of Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, and directed with many professional Portland theatre companies in the 1980s. She is the author of the groundbreaking Women Stage Directors Speak (McFarland, 1996) and has been published in multiple professional theatre journals. In 2015, she retired from teaching and moved to the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts where, in 2018, she completed the manuscript for Keeping the Lights on for Ike, a book based on her father’s letter home from Europe during WWII, which was published in 2019 by Sunbury Press. In 2019, she also served as literary manager and co-producer for Silverthorne Theater Company in Greenfield, MA. Lately, she has been working on two full-length plays and recently completed a memoir called Finding Sisters (to be published by Sunbury Press in 2021) that explores how DNA testing helped her find her genetic parents and other relatives in spite of being given up for a closed adoption at birth.