This panoramic wartime drama, set between 1942 and 1945, portrays the intertwined lives of four women in the original group of Women's Army Auxiliary Corps officer candidates. For Page Hannaday, nothing takes precedence over her enthusiasm for military life. She enlists despite the indignation of her father, a general and a male chauvinist; Page's professional dedication jeopardizes her engagement to a colonel with whom she serves in Europe. Like Page, diminutive Jill Hammersmith was raised to be compliant, so while in Italy, she struggles to remain faithful to her fiance although she adores Capt. Desmond Stratton. Abuse by her father transformed former model Elisabeth Gardner into a masochistic social climber whose aloofness confounds her comrades. After marrying a patrician officer, Elisabeth is drawn to an exploitative war profiteer for whom she breaks the law. Saucy Bunny Palermo shares Elisabeth's fear of emotional dependence, but a rakish sergeant's attentions provide temptation during her Pacific tour of duty. Despite some awkward dialogue and tinges of melodrama, Westin stirringly communicates the perseverance, camaraderie and anguish of these women. 100,000 ad/promo; paperback rights to Pocket Books; film rights to CBS-TV; BOMC featured alternate. U.K. rights: W. H. Allen; translation rights: Marcella Berger, S & S. January 27
Comparisons to Janet Dailey's Silver Wings, Santiago Blue ( LJ 8/84) will be inevitable. Each novel follows four women from widely disparate backgrounds and of contrasting personalities who enlist in the military. There is the dedicated military brat whose father objects to her enlistment; the small-sized innocent from a tiny town who works twice as hard to prove herself; the fashion plate from New York City who has secrets to hide; and the gregarious joker whose laughter serves to hide her pain and to pull the group together. While Dailey focuses on the Women's Air Corps during World War II, Westin outlines the formation of the Women's Army Corps. Three of her main characters go overseas, close to the fighting. The danger and important yet uncertain love interests for each keep interest from waning. Although almost formula-like in its similarity to Dailey, this is enjoyable. BOMC feature alternate. Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.