I found Diane Holmes on a TV interview with “Hello, Iowa!” Here is a woman about my age, I thought, who’s written two books. We met in person at last year’s Indie Bookstore Day at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, where I learned she’s a dozen years older than I am! What a remarkable woman. Her chauffeur/husband, a career fighter pilot, says she’s hard to keep up with.
Diane was raised on an Iowa farm. After high school she attended the American Institute of Business in Des Moines and married a high school classmate, Lyell, a career Marine Corps officer who flew helicopters and jets. They raised two daughters and a son while moving from state to state. Diane also worked for a large school district supervising their workers’ comp and insurance programs. She’s been through the devastating loss of an adult daughter.
You might find her books as compelling as I did. One is her memoir. The other is a novel woven out of a family mystery.
Uprooted: Family Is Where You Find It
Diane Holmes describes in her memoir, Uprooted: Family Is Where You Find It, what it’s like being born in 1932, the middle of the Great Depression. She writes about WWII through the eyes of a child helping the war efforts on the home front – victory gardens, war bonds, rationing books, and sacrificing.
Diane tells readers what she experienced in her military life being married to a career officer who flew helicopters and jet fighters and spent two tours in Vietnam. She explains how they dreaded the separations but made things work by buying two small recorders and sending tapes back and forth. She smiles and frowns, telling about raising kids moving from duty station to duty station, searching out good schools at each place. She describes going back to college to update skills then entering the workforce after nearly 25 years being away.
Holmes enjoys sharing with readers special Christmas celebrations during her lifetime. And she ends her memoir, Uprooted: Family Is Where you Find It, telling readers how she dealt with a devastating loss.
My Thoughts: This memoir, which covers the author’s life from the Great Depression and WWII until now, will especially resonate with military families. Her husband was a career Marine jet pilot, so frequent moves and separations were common, along with the sensation of being uprooted. She eventually returned to college and the workforce. Now decades later she has written two books!
Two Sisters’ Secret
From author, Diane Holmes, comes a story inspired by the life of her grandmother, Bernadine. In this work of historical fiction, the relationship between Bernadine and her older sister Elizabeth is complicated. Bitterness between them develops when Elizabeth asks Bernadine to keep a deep dark secret about her past. Later, Bernadine must endure betrayal when Elizabeth moves to West Virginia and leaves her behind. The story gives a detailed look at Bernadine’s life as she matures, marries, and raises a large family on an Iowa farm, always harboring bittersweet feelings for Elizabeth.
Two Sisters’ Secret is not just the personal story of Bernadine and Elizabeth but the story of rural America at the turn of the century and beyond – the days of horse-powered farm machinery and transportation, the transition to electric lights and telephones, the sadness, fear, and loneliness of an immigrant in the United States, and the very real hardship of the Great Depression.
My thoughts: This is a family story that needed sharing, about sisters who immigrated from Germany. The much younger one (Bernadine) was so ambivalent about leaving their home country, about being left behind in Iowa when the older sister (Elizabeth) married and moved away. Even after marrying and having so many children of her own, then widowed, Bernadine struggled.
Bernadine’s life became even more fascinating after she married a man who wasn’t really as she’d thought. And there were unpleasant surprises with two adult daughters. By then, I’d forgotten about the original secret, so when it was revealed, it came as a surprise. Well done, Diane T. Holmes!
Here is Diane’s website.