First Review of Leora’s Letters from Europe

I usually don’t post someone else’s reviews of Leora’s Letters, but this one was delightful to read. Freelance writer Denzil Walton from Belgium caused tears to well up . . . .

Leora’s front porch in Iowa

I purchased “Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II” after reading a blogger’s highly positive review. I didn’t think I would find it that good. How wrong I was! I found it a gripping, well-written and genuinely moving book. At times I felt I was sitting on a rocking chair on Leora’s front porch in Iowa reading these fascinating family letters.

The book is based around the Wilson family on their farm in Iowa. Mum, Dad, two girls and five boys. As the 1940s progresses, the boys decide to serve their country during World War Two. Two join the Navy; three sign up for the Army Air Corps. But they don’t go all at once, they go one by one. And this is what makes the story almost unbearable. The tension and apprehension mount as one by one the sons leave the family fold to join up. First to their training camps. Then to the front lines of Europe, the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Please Junior, stay!

And with each one departing, the work mounts up for those left at home to run the large farm. 30 acres of hay, 80 of corn, 70 of oats, 30 of soybeans, plus the pigs, cattle, horses and mules. It’s manageable with five boys, but then there are four left, then three, then two. Surely Junior will stay? Please Junior, stay! But no. All five go to serve their country. With the two daughters now married, it’s just Ma and Pa on the farm. I was ready to jump up from that ol’ rocker and leap on a tractor to help gather the harvest.

The letters written by Leora and her two daughters to their sons, but also between the five boys, mount up. And so does the tension. The long waits between letters. The silence that is barely endurable.

Even in the heart of battle, the boys are concerned for their parents back home. How are the pigs? How’s the harvest? Don’t work too hard Pa. Take care of yourself Ma. Here’s some money to help out. Send me a photo of the dogs.

Right alongside these folk

As I say, the book was so vivid that I was right alongside these folk during their torment. I was ready to kick that local postman back to the post office if he ever thought for one minute that he was going to turn up to deliver any fateful “Dear Mr and Mrs Wilson, it is with great regret” telegram.

Read this exceptional book and be moved. I am sure you will then join me with my sincere congratulations both to Joy Neal Kidney and Robin Grunder. They fully deserve as wide an audience as possible. Oh come on, you agents, this is movie material! Can I play the old neighbor sitting on their porch?

Denzil Walton is a freelance journalist, editor, and technical copyrighter with two websites. Professional and also Discovering Belgium.


Denzil’s well written post called “The Poppies of Flanders Fields” is scheduled for my website May 22.


    • Bless you for your encouragement. Scenes are the hardest for me to do, but am working hard on them for Leora’s Depression Era stories next! I just watched an online writers seminar yesterday, to get me started again after this “shoulder thing.”

      • Donald Miller, through his Story Brand stuff, and all-day live stream. I’ve even got his “Building a Story Brand.” A writing friend sent me something free of his, which I enjoyed. This shoulder recovery took more out of me than I’d expected, and I needed to get back to thinking about theme for the next book. I’ve got stories, but need to think about it as a whole, which isn’t easy! Food for thought, even thinking about writing better blog and even Instagram posts.

  1. So good to see you getting a well deserved international review… someone from Belgium. When I went there last June during D Day 75th weeks, I found them to be very appreciative of US in WW II AND WWI history for them. Joy, I agree with him. This is a gem for a movie.

    • Oh I would have loved to be there on D-Day! (Had a big birthday also that week.) A man from Belgium was also the first to visit Danny Wilson’s grave in France, then took a young Frenchman (who is a WWII reenactor) with him the next time. Yes, they remember and appreciate those who liberated right where they live! Movie? Dave, Leora’s Story is at least being made into an audio book! Chapters 2 and 3 being recorded today! Humbled and thankful. . . .

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