Customer Reviews for

Letters From Home

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Beautifully written and very engaging book

The first thing I have to say about this book is the fact that it really felt like I was in the 1940s in the midst of WWII. Ms. McMorris does a fabulous job of setting the tone and setting of the book. I felt like she really did her research from the way the characters ...
The first thing I have to say about this book is the fact that it really felt like I was in the 1940s in the midst of WWII. Ms. McMorris does a fabulous job of setting the tone and setting of the book. I felt like she really did her research from the way the characters talked to the various settings, they just felt right. No accidental usage of current slang to take me out of the moment. The era is the book is wonderfully done. Next is the characters. I love Liz and Julia and Betty grew on me. Betty seemed a little stuck on herself at first but as I read more about her I started liking her more and more. Liz seems to be the star of this book while still having storylines involving Julia and Betty. I am in hopes that more books will follow and will tell the continuing stories of Julia and Betty. In this book Liz is engaged, but then she meets Morgan the night before he heads off to serve in the war. Then she sees him with Betty and gives up on the feelings she felt. Then the curveball is thrown when Betty asks Liz to write to Morgan for her since she doesn't know what to say. A relationship grows through the letters and leads to the main storyline of the book. I found the letters fascinating and a wonderful way to get to know the characters. The letters are interspersed with accounts from each of the characters lives and it's a great way to get to know all the main players in the book and also to see life on the home front and on the front lines. The focus is on the characters though and how they grow and change during the book because of the way they affect one another. The book is beautifully written and completely captivating. I hated putting it down to do other things and was anxious to pick it back up. I could read it in a busy room with no problem, that was how engrossed I would become in the book. The romance is sweet, the end is great, the tension building is wonderfully done and I just can't gush enough about this book. This is Ms. McMorris' debut and I can't wait to see what she writes next.

posted by crystal_fulcher on March 21, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Good story

Reminds me of the feeling of waiting for that special someone to mail you a letter, something our kids will never understand in this world where we are all connected constantly by cell phones, computers, etc...

posted by 7075569 on February 21, 2012

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  • Posted March 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Impressive Debut Amidst Love, War & Letters From Home

    Reading her work, I would not have taken Kristina McMorris for a first-time novelist. Her debut, Letters from Home is historical fiction flawlessly delivered and masterfully told. She transports us back in time a nation in the middle of the harrowing tragedies of World War II, and gives us not only a beautiful love story, but several perfectly woven stories of lives forever changed in myriad ways as they were touched by the war.

    Her characters were astonishingly real. I marveled sometimes at the details of this historical period that she knew so well to make each of them come alive. From the soldiers in the field to the women and men trying to live a normal life at home her details were impressive in the life they gave these characters. As these characters explored the meaning not only of love and war, but of family and duty and home itself, I found myself more than once feeling like I had slipped into a piece of my grandparent's lives and aching a little bit, missing them. Missing the parts of them I knew, and the parts of them I never will.

    "They were kids back in their dad's Iowa fields, dozing out in the open, naming shapes made of stars in the sky. A sky that offered them promises, futures as limitless as the universe.

    A sky that lied." (Ch. 6)

    Not only does she give us a sweeping love story, she offers unique stories and perspectives that I wasn't expecting (like as unlikely a soldier as ever in Betty who ends up in a remote army hospital in New Guinea) , she tackles her stories with aching beauty, loss and longing. But not least of all there is a sense throughout the book of innocence being shed, of real people being forced into seeing the world through vastly changed eyes and maintaining throughout it all something miraculous - hope.

    Letters from Home easily will remain in my mind as one of my favorite historical fiction of the era. It felt in many ways discovering, accepting and finally coming home. I have no doubt we will see great things from Ms. McMorris in the future.

    The Concept:
    A missed connection. A correspondence that sustains and changes both of the lovers. Only one of them is not exactly who she says she is. It's a page straight from Cyrano, but it's given so much more meaning and consequence. The historical backdrop and excellent writing transforms and elevates this story into something more human and every bit as romantic.

    Note: Review copy provided to me courtesy of author in no way affected my review of this work. This review originally appeared on Aurelia {Lit}

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  • Posted March 16, 2011

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    Letters From Home

    I am a huge fan of historical fiction and when I read that "Letters From Home"was inspired by the love letters of the authors grandparents I was totally hooked.

    Set during WWII, the story revolves around three young ladies Liz, Betty and Julia,who have been best friends since they were thrown together as lab partners in freshman science.The three of them live in Elizabeth (Liz) Stephens grandparents home. Each have their own aspirations in life, Liz plans on marrying her childhood friend Dalton, and also becoming a literature professor. Julia is engaged to Christian, who is serving overseas, but she also is great with fashion, and has just been offered a chance at an impressive internship with Vogue. Betty works as a waitress and also sings at the USO, she decides that her life needs a change and makes a quick decision to join the Women's Army Corps.

    Morgan McClain and his brother Charlie are getting ready to ship out and are spending their last night at the USO in Chicago. Charlie is anxious to get into battle, he would have enlisted early but his brother Morgan convinced him to wait until he was eighteen, and because Morgan has always looked out for his brother, he signed up as well.When Morgan and Liz meet at the USO they feel drawn to each other, but when Liz goes to the bathroom and comes back Morgan is dancing with Betty, making Liz think that she only imagined the spark she felt. Betty starts corresponding with Morgan but soon convinces Liz to write the letters for her, as the letters fly back and forth Morgan thinks he is falling for Betty, never realizing it is actually Liz he is corresponding with.

    The author weaves together the stories of the characters perfectly, pulling you into their lives so completely that I really couldn't put the book down.There are some light humorous moments but also some heart wrenching ones as well. Because the author starts each chapter with the date and location she easily transistions the story between the States and the battlefield.

    As we get the back stories of the characters, I found myself especially drawn to Liz, who felt abandoned by her father, and I really kept hoping that Julia wouldn't give up her chance with Vogue. I was so totally surprised when Betty joined the WAC. I kept wondering what Morgan would do when he found out the truth about who he was actually corresponding with. But most of all I found myself holding my breath, hoping that the men would make it back home alive.

    If your looking for a well written story that will transport you back to a simpler time, where the characters stick in your heart and mind long after you have read the last page then you definitely want to read this book!

    I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted March 15, 2011

    What A Joy to Read!!!

    Wonderfully delightful book! Gripping story right from the start! The tears were flowing in many parts. Kristina McMorris's style of writing is so graceful and so powerful and is such a pleasure to read. I had not read an historical fiction novel in quite a while and I had forgotten how enjoyable they can be!

    The main story revolves around letters that are exchanged between soldier Morgan McClain and Betty, a beautiful USO singer. The main twist is that he is actually not writing to Betty but to her roommate Liz. He had actually met Liz at the dance and there was a strong connection between them but fate intervened as you will see when you read the story. It is Liz's words that he falls in love with while overseas and her opening up her heart to him through the letters that propel the story forward and provide the potential for disaster once he realizes that he is not writing to Betty.

    The three women, Liz, Betty and Julia, who inhabit these pages are all different yet incredibly interesting unique individuals. While this book is a love story it is also a touching story about the friendships between women. Liz, Betty and Julia are all very different women following different paths. All three women find joy and heartbreak in this novel and I felt every emotion right along with them! I felt that McMorris' portrayal of a soldier's life on the western front and the Pacific front to be incredibly realistic and true to history. I found the same for her portrayal of life on the home front.

    This book is one of the must read books of the year that everyone will be talking about. You'll laugh and you'll cry! Highly recommend this book!

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

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    A beautifully written book that will take you on a journey

    My Synopsis:
    Liz Stephens is at a crossroad in her life. She has been in a relationship with her childhood friend, Dalton Harris. For the most part, Liz is content in this relationship. During a chance meeting at a USO dance, Liz meets Morgan McClain an enlisted soldier who will be shipped off to war the next morning. In that brief moment in time, Liz feels such a strong connection with Morgan that will shake her up and make her question her relationship and all that she knows. A misunderstanding leads her to believe that Morgan's affection lies elsewhere.

    Morgan and his brother Charlie are shipping off to war the next morning. Morgan has been looking out for Charlie his whole life. Charlie wanted to enlist and go off to war. Morgan also enlists and finds a way for them to be in the same unit so he could keep an eye out for his younger brother. On their last night before they are shipped off, Morgan meets and feels a huge connection with Liz. Before he could get her last name and find out more about her, Liz departs to clean up after a drunk soldier spills a drink down the side of her dress. Morgan loses sight of her while helping a damsel in distress.

    Betty Cordell is trying to find her way in this world. She is beautiful and has the curves in all the right places. She's not as book smart as her roommates, but she's a fighter. Betty is singing at this dance and has captivated many of the soldiers there that night. She is rescued by Morgan when a drunk soldier doesn't take no for an answer. Betty is searching for Mr. Right and thinks she might have found it in Morgan.

    Julia Renard has a decision to make. She's been offered a prestigious internship at Vogue. She would love to jump at this chance but she loves her fiance Christian more. Julia decides her time would be better spent at home as a wife when Christian returns from the war. Julia is confident in her decision and continues to plan her wedding. An encounter with Christian's older brother Ian will leave her questioning her path.

    Each friend will take her own path leading her on a journey that will change her life.

    My Thoughts:
    Where to start? Let me start by telling you how I discovered this book. I was stalking the Rhapsody Book Club site and saw this book in their coming soon section. I saw the cover and fell in love with it. Yes, it doesn't have any eye candy (my normally visually appealing senses can appreciate non eye candy covers every once in awhile it happens..lol) but the combination of the letters and flower evoked an emotion in me. What emotion I couldn't tell you, but I knew I needed to find out more about this book. I read the synopsis and was sold. I checked out Kristina's website and totally fell in love. It's like stepping back into days gone by. I found out Kristina was a new author and this was a debut book. Stalked Kristina and told her I wanted to pimp her book and get her on my blog. I took a chance with an author I've never read before and a genre (Women's Fiction) that I'm picky about and rarely read, but something in my gut told me that I was going to like this book. Let me tell you, that I love it when my gut is right! :)

    Kristina has written a captivating novel that will take you on a journey from the home front of America during WWII to the middle of the battlefields fought across the seas! With her poetic writing and descriptive words you will feel as if you've stepped right into the 1940's during an era that was dominated by an ugl

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

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    Hope In Time of War

    This is a lovely story and one that is especially heart-warming. It's a story of hope, friendship, sacrifice and love. It's a story about events we encounter that change our lives forever, whether we want them to or not. I thoroughly enjoyed Letters from Home and I expect the author to do very well with this debut novel. Well-written, nicely developed characters, excellent use of research . what more could a reader ask for!

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

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    Outstanding! A Must Read!

    I've always been a huge fan of WWII stories. I truly love the romances between soldiers and the girls' back home. This one, however, was truly surprising. The story was new, fresh, and full of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting.

    We begin with Liz Stephens, riding in a Cadillac beside her boyfriend, Dalton Harris. She couldn't be more upset with him if she possibly tried. Dalton is a good man, but spends most of his time working on his father's political campaign; he rarely remembers when Liz asks him to accompany her to various events, and this is one night where she really wanted his company. As always, Dalton kisses her on the head, apologizes, and Liz rushes out of the car, determined to get away from him before she ends up slapping him across the face.

    When she arrives at the USO dance that her roommate is making her singing debut at, she finds herself surrounded by the brave soldiers dressed in their clean, crisp uniforms. Betty Cordell, a slightly dumb blonde who wants nothing more than to sing in a USO band is up on stage; while Liz's other roommate, Julia Renard - a girl who's truly in love, has a talent for fashion design, and spends most of her time missing her beloved fiancée who is overseas - is sitting at a table. As Julia and Liz sit and listen to Betty belt out a gorgeous tune from the stage, two young men appear by their side.

    Charlie and Morgan McClain are brothers. Like most siblings, they are completely different from each other. Charlie is the "fun" guy with the incredible sense of humor who makes women swoon; while his older brother Morgan is incredibly handsome and extremely shy - especially around Liz who he spotted from across the crowded dance floor and, literally, fell in love with on site. Although Liz is already angry about her boyfriend and snaps at the young soldiers, she also discovers - after a very short conversation - that Morgan McClain is the most genuine and attractive man she's ever met.

    Because of a miscommunication of sorts, Liz sees Morgan in Betty's arms during the dance and she can feel her heart break; she actually has no idea why that is, considering they've only just met. But she rushes from the USO dance, never to see Morgan again. Through an even stranger circumstance, Liz becomes a pen-pal to the handsome man, writing him letters overseas - their words bringing them closer and closer.

    In the midst of Liz and Morgan having the most amazing relationship through the written word, the author also adds amazingly interesting storylines that deal with Betty and her overwhelming urge to serve overseas; Julia's exciting offer of a life working at Vogue in NYC; and, Morgan and his "unit" who have to go through horrific battles and extreme emotional upheaval in order to get home to the women and families they truly love. There's not one story "thread" that's even remotely boring - every single page of this is a must read.

    This new author was inspired to write this heartfelt tale after reading her grandma and Papa's love letters. I can't think of a more beautiful way to get inspiration. My grandparents had the most amazing romance I've ever witnessed. Perhaps that generation knew how to truly find loyalty, love, friendship, and happiness in another person - as well as reciprocate those hard-to-find emotions. This story will have you praying for the author to hurry up and write more!

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

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    Great Historical Fiction

    This book was a great smooth read, you felt yourself being dragged into the trenches with the characters. I felt like I was along side Morgan and what he was facing in the war zone. Also felt like I was right along side Liz and her choices she was making. This is a great fresh read into our history. Really showed how the war affected so many and how women survived with so much turmoil.
    Definitely will be looking for more books by this author she has really hit on something great and wonderful. Her ability at story telling was amazing. I was actually surprised how engrossed in this story I got so quickly. Which is something most books are lacking. Most of them have dead areas, and this story didn't I was captivated wanting to see how it played out.

    It definitely showed how the War grew young adults up in a rather quick motion. And how what we plan isn't always what transpires things happen, choices are made and not the ones we plan. I can only imagine her parents love story was as great as Liz and Morgan's. Kristina McMorris has definitely turned me onto reading this period type work. As generally I surpass it as too much blood shed and horror, but she has given it a romantic spin, of how kids were and how they dealt with life challenges.

    I rate this book as 5 stars as never has a novel grabbed me like this one. It grabbed me sucked me in, held my emotions and gave me tons of insight. I will be checking out any and all work by this Author. Way to go your story rocks. I couldn't even put it into words how great it was!

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    ww2 soldiers letters

    I would love to tell you the story was great, but only I can't read it after I purchased the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

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    Enchanting and authentic

    Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris follows four unsung WWII heroes during their personal transformations while the second war to-end-all-wars shaped the history of our world. I'm familiar with many WWII movies from The Bridge over the River Kwai to Saving Private Ryan, and the Band of Brothers miniseries.

    Ms. McMorris brings an additional WWII flavor to Letters with the focus on three women whose lives were forever changed by the war. I personally feel the mastery behind this novel is the romance between Liz and Morgan through letters. Without her letters with Morgan, Liz would have not been transformed by the war. Instead, she may have taught the history of WWII as a professor instead of the potential life to unfold at the end of the novel.

    Julia has a fiancé solider and Betty becomes a WAC and they make their choices and change specifically because WWII events affected their lives and this adds great depth and flavor to the story. But Liz doesn't even know she's fighting a war within until her contact with Morgan as he is living the war in the trenches.

    I personally found the letters as presented to be compelling and very true to the art and craft of letter writing as it existed in the 1940's. The censorship on personal communication that also existed during WWII meant that both writer and reader needed to truly read-between-the-lines. Bits of poetry and childhood memories shared with the ever present horror of war hanging over their heads truly does reveal a lot about the soul of the person, and love can bloom there.

    This novel is enchanting, well paced, and strongly written. Readers will be avidly turning the pages and willing to discuss it for many years to come. There's even intriguing recipes at the end.

    Ms. McMorris also has a wonderful website with additional stories, real WWII letters, and more information about the United Through Reading organization.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

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    McMorris Has a Home Run with LETTERS FROM HOME!

    Set during World War II,Kristina McMorris has created a moving story in LETTERS FROM HOME. This narrative was inspired by the true love story of her own grandparents' romance and how their correspondence during the war resulted in their eventual loving union. Revolving around three female characters, LETTERS FROM HOME will grab you from the first page and not let you go until you have finished by looking at the wonderful "war time" recipes McMorris has included in the back of the book. Liz Stephens, Betty Cordell, and Julia Renard were roommates in Chicago back in 1944. Each with a different goal in mind, the story follows these women as their lives entwine and they strive to reach those goals. Along the way, they find that no matter what they planned, life happens and some of their journeys end in a much different place than originally intended. Liz starts out fully expecting to marry Dalton Harris, a friend since they were children who is now a young, local politician. Betty is set on marrying a man of means, unlike her mother, while Julia's dream is heading in the right direction now with a chance to intern for a very famous fashion design team. Julia is also engaged to Christian Downing, who is already overseas and while she waits for his return, knowing decisions will need to be made, his brother Ian returns from war, a changed man. Julia feels sorry for him but before she realizes it, those feelings begin to change to something more intense. Morgan McClain, who with his brother Charlie, is enjoying a last hurrah at the Chicago USO Club before shipping out. When Morgan and Liz meet at the USO, there is immediate chemistry, but when Morgan, always the good guy, goes to help Betty, Liz leaves thinking she had probably imagined it. What could she be thinking anyway when she is destined to be with Dalton? One thing leads to another and Betty begins to write to Morgan overseas but feels she is inadequate in her writing skills and asks Liz for help. With Betty's persuasive personality, Liz agrees and soon Morgan and Liz are writing meaningful, deep letters with Morgan picturing Betty while it is Liz he is really falling for. Betty makes a sudden patriotic, but possibly dangerous decision to join the Woman's Army Corp and in doing so, finds a real romance of her own. As LETTERS FROM HOME goes on, switching from battle fields to the home front, from the men to the women, McMorris writes with a personal touch that really keeps the reader "in the moment" and waiting to see which direction each character will go next. When the war ends, each of the women now has to come to terms with decisions they have made. What will happen when the men come home? Will Julia follow her dream or continue along the path she has started on? Will Liz be married safely to her childhood friend or take a chance on someone she thinks she has feelings for? What will become of Betty and who will she finally wind up with, if any? And what IF all the men don't come home? The ending stayed with me as it is one that left me thinking about each character and the choices they made. Was I surprised, you might ask? I will say this, war can change people and sometimes we have to ask if we really knew that person to begin with. The fact that Kristina McMorris has written with such depth and emotion, reflected in her characters, the ending, and the story overall. I think you will only know what I mean by reading LETTERS FROM HOME by Kristina McMorris and make your own judgment.

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

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    This is an engaging historical tale

    During the turmoil of WWII, Betty Cordell, Julia Renard and Liz Stephens become roommates in 1944 in Chicago. Each has different dreams about their future.

    Betty plans to avoid the mistakes her mom made; she will only marry someone affluent. Julia has a fabulous offer to intern at a renowned fashion design firm, but declines the chance as she waits for her soldier fiancé to come home to marry him. Liz ponders whether she truly wants to be a professor married to a politician after briefly meeting soldier Morgan McClain at the USO; his interest is with Betty; he asks her to exchange letters with him while he is overseas but Liz does it by pretending to be Betty.

    This is an engaging historical tale with a strong romantic underpinning. The key to the story line is the various background settings from Chicago to the European battlefields and a combat deployed field hospital in Dutch New Guinea; each brings alive the era in diverse ways. Fans will enjoy this fine WWII drama wondering how Morgan will react if he survives to come home to duplicity when the war is over.

    Harriet Klausner

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