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