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WWII forced many couples to declare their love in the hopes that a beloved girlfriend would wait for her man who was off in the awful trench warfare stretching across Europe. Sandy, a young boy, who worships the world of wartime aviation, is the one who accidentally hears something he shouldn't and is threatened by the town "quack" with violence if he utters a single word.
Virginia Sullivan's family are a unique lot. After Virginia reads in the local newspaper about her marriage by elopement to Will, she realizes that her father planted the story to protect her and the family's name. But just what is permissible when the young man, who may or may not be where everyone thinks he is, knows nothing of his supposed marriage or the fruit of that union?
Patriotism is stronger in this war than ever before, and it is Virginia's father, who owns the local paper, who controls the news and most of Tierra, Texas. Rationing is the rule of the day, but it turns out that just about anything can be obtained through the influence of Pappy Sullivan. While he's manipulating and maneuvering the news and everyone's lives, Virginia's brother, Bart, who has evaded the draft, is busy wrecking lives around him and committing an act against Virginia that will have far-reaching effects that are far larger than Bart imagines.
French Letters is the first of a planned series in which the reader meets small-town news, politics, culture and loyalty to a larger cause, WWII, which has transformed every life, even in a Southern backwater community like Tierra, Texas. Mr. London's got the characters, with their blatant flaws and virtues, exactly right, as well as the nature of wartime life in Southern America.
Nicely done, Mr. London!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on June 27, 2010