What’s it About?
The time is 1943; the place is Chicago, Illinois. Three Irish-Catholic sisters, the Heaney girls, spend part of every evening sitting at the kitchen table in their pincurls, writing to their boyfriends and to other men fighting in World War 2. Observing the daily life of these girls as well as their parents and three brothers, we get a glimpse of what life was like on the homefront; in the letters the women receive from the men, we get an idea of it was like “over there.” This novel is an evocation of a time gone by, a purposefully nostalgic and sentimental — and fun!– look at the forties: the clothes, the music, the language, the meals, the sentiments. It is a dramatic example of how a certain period in time can shape a person. Most of all, it demonstrates how much we are willing to give in the name of love.
What was the inspiration?
There are a lot of books written about World War 2, but not so many about the home front. I’m always interested in the details of ordinary life, and particularly the lives of women leading those ordinary lives. I wanted to write about the women who did so much to support the soldiers. I wanted to write about rationing and USO dances and drawing seams on the back of your legs with eyebrow pencil because silk stockings were no longer available. A bigger reason for writing this book, though, was to pay tribute to a generation of people who are slowly leaving us. There is so much to learn from and admire about them. On a more personal note, this is one I wanted to “give” to my Dad. You can see a photo of him and my Mom in the front of the book. My Dad’s wearing his Army uniform; my Mom’s wearing the yellow dress she was married in.
“I dreamed they were all coming to the house, all the boys who have died. Here they came, up the front steps of the porch–tall and short, dark-and fair-complected, all dirty-faced, and oh, God love them, so weary, but grinning, just passing through the house, coming in the front door and going out the back, seemed like thousands and thousands of them. One of them took an apple from the bowl on the table and then he just looked at me with such gratitude.”