Gail Kittleson: WWII Historical Fiction

Author’s Note

When Gail’s not steeped in World War II historical research, writing, or editing, you’ll find her reading for fun, gardening, or enjoying her grandchildren in Northern Iowa. She delights in interacting with readers who fall in love with her characters. . . . .Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and ESL before writing women’s historical fiction. From northern Iowa, she facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats, and enjoys the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.

In This Together

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Book Description

After World War II steals her only son and sickness takes her husband, Dottie Kyle begins cooking and cleaning at the local boarding house. The job and small town life allow her to slip into a predictable routine, but her daughters and grandchildren live far away, and loneliness is Dottie’s constant companion when she’s not working. Al Jensen, Dottie’s long-time neighbor, has merely existed since his wife died. Al passes his time working for his son at the town’s hardware store. However, he still copes with tragic memories of serving in WWI. Being with Dottie makes him happy, and their friendship grows until, for him, love has replaced friendship. When Dottie’s daughter has health issues, will Al’s strength and servant’s heart be enough to win Dottie’s love and affection? Can Dottie’s love for her family enable her to face her fear of crowds and enclosed spaces and travel halfway across the country to help the daughter who so desperately needs her?

My Thoughts

Set after WW II, this gentle story reminds me of Jan Karon’s Mitford books. One character had been through combat, other had lost a son to the war and other losses. The story deals with serious issues, but with a sense of humor and the caring of family.

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Women of the Heartland Series

In Times Like These

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Book Description

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war. But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stroke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment. When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits. Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future? This extraordinary literary writing classically captures the mindset of the 1940’s. Addie and her friend Kate reflect the voices women hear as they face confusing dilemmas even seventy-five years later—my first read kept me up into the wee hours. I will refer my readers to In Times Like These! Patricia Evans, Author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Controlling People and other books listed at www.VerbalAbuse.com

My Thoughts

Skillfully deals with how changes during WW II opened up new choices for women, but also dealing with spousal verbal abuse. Looking forward to Gail’s next book in the series!

With Each New Dawn

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Book Description

In war-torn London, American Kate Isaacs grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, another meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive (SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who, with his dying breath, reveals a secret that changes Kate’s life.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo’s younger brother Gabirel is missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo’s parish priest, Père Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.

As Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause of freedom, can mere human will and moral courage change the war’s tide and forge a future for them?

My Thoughts

The is part of the “Women of the Heartland” series, but is set in England and France during WW II. I enjoyed catching up with Kate and Addie, although both had heartaches to live through. One lived through the tension of living in London while it was besieged by the Luftwaffe, the other learning about her own past while, at the same time, spying for Britain’s Secret Operations Executive (SOE) in the Basque mountains of France. The end cries out for the next book.

A Purpose True

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Book Description

Though War Breeds Cruelty and Injustice, Grace Yet Prevails.

Southern France – Spring, 1944

German panzer units crisscross the region, dealing ruthless reprisals against the French Resistance, and anyone suspected of supporting its efforts. Secret Operations Executive (SOE) agent Kate Isaacs is tasked with providing essential radio communications with the Allies, while her guide, Domingo Ibarra, a Basque shepherd-turned-Resistance fighter, dedicates himself to avenging the destruction of his home and family.

Thrown together by the vagaries of war, their shared mission, and common devotion to liberty, the last thing Kate and Domingo anticipate is the stirring of affection that threatens to blossom into love. But how can love survive in the midst of the enemy’s relentless cruelty toward innocent citizens?

Everything hinges on the success of the Allied Invasion – L’Invasion.

My Thoughts

The “women of the heartland” are still in London, and the Basque area of France. While D-Day is underway in the north of France, an SS unit seeks revenge in the south. Kate learns that suffering expands the capacity to bear new grief as she continues transmitting clandestine messages, passing them on, always moving on with a new identity, and coming to terms with her role in such a terrible war. Two stories merge, past and present, but she doesn’t return to the heartland. Instead, she ends up in Idaho. When my husband was stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and we took a drive in the foothills, we had to come to a stop for a herd of sheep. When we got out to talk to the herder, we learned that he didn’t speak English. It was fun finding the same thing in the Prelude to “A Purpose True.”

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A sheepherder wagon in Idaho about 1968.

Kiss Me Once Again

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Book Description

Glenora Keeps Her Heart Under Lock and Key No one ever accused Glenora Carson of being a breathtaking beauty. Her talk, gangly figure and angular face are more solid midwestern stock than Hollywood glamour. But Joe liked her. He even told her, “You’re the one for me.” He gave her a locket with his picture inside, to remind her of him while he was away, serving his country on the U.S.S. Arizona.After December 7, 1941, Glenora shelves her dreams of attending college on the scholarship she was offered by Iowa State University, locks her heart away, and focuses on holding down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls didn’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough.That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life.Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans?

My Thoughts

WWII historical fiction, a boyfriend lost in the Pacific, a wounded soldier comes home, a brother missing in the Pacific, a too-tall protagonist, a sweet romance set in an Iowa mechanic’s garage. What a delightful novella.

All for the Cause

Book Description

Distant thunder rolled as Mr. Olsen poured coffee for his customers, and comments crackled like popcorn.”Surrender?””Unconditional, he said. Who woulda thought…””Sure ain’t lookin’ good.””Sure hate to think of ’em bein’ prisoners.””Ain’t Howard Hannam’s son over there?””Yeah, and my brother’s boy. Sure hope MacArthur keeps his promise to rescue them fellas.”The news was grim in May 1942. The Philippines had fallen to the Imperial Japanese Army. Rommel is on the move in Northern Africa. The Russian Army is pushed back toward Stalingrad. In the sweltering jungles of Corregidor, PFC Stan Ford battles illness and injury as he and his comrades escape and evade a tenacious enemy. And in the Heartland, women mourn the loss of husbands, sons, and sweethearts.While everyone else seems to be doing something to support the troops, Twila Brunner feels lost, and useless. But when she sees a newspaper article about a Prisoner of War camp being built in neighboring Algona, Iowa, she believes she has finally discovered a way to to give something for the Cause.

My Thoughts

All For the Cause takes the reader to the Philippines during WWII. Knowing that the author’s father-in-law was a scout in a raid on a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines heightens the authenticity of that part of the story.

It also takes the reader to a German POW camp in Algona, Iowa The POWs there provided labor for surrounding farms, where sons were serving in the war. I was surprised that nothing was mentioned about the large manger scene made by the POWs for the citizens of the town, but maybe that didn’t fit in with the themes of the historical novel.

This book is a great addition to Gail Kittleson’s “Women of the Heartland” WWII series.

2 comments

  1. I want to read all of these. 😊 If only I didn’t have a whole other pile of books already waiting…..

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S9, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

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