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As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?
Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing--and true love.
"I love the nostalgia and drama of the WWII era. No one takes me back there better than Sarah Sundin. With Every Letter is a beautiful love story and has everything you want in a novel: romance, suspense, and characters you care about from the very first page. A marvelous beginning for her new series. I can't wait to read the next book."--Dan Walsh, award-winning and bestselling author of The Discovery
Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.
Lt. Philomela Blake believed mornings should start gently, with the nighttime melting into golden sunshine and birdsong luring to wakefulness.
Most nurses on the morning shift assaulted the patients with electric light and harsh voices, but not Mellie.
She pulled the cord of the blackout curtain and sang "At Last," and the volume of her tune built with the intensity of light. Hurting and healing men deserved a soft hand.
On the nearest bed, Corporal Sloan shifted under the blankets. He'd undergone an appendectomy late last night. "Any dame ..." He cleared his throat, his voice raspy from the ether. "Any dame with the voice of an angel must have a face to match."
Mellie's song and her hands stilled. How many soldiers dreamed of a beautiful nurse who might fall in love with them?
He rubbed his eyes, looked at her, and his smile flickered.
Papa called Mellie his exotic orchid, but American men seemed to prefer roses.
Mellie opened the blackout curtains all the way. "How do you feel this morning, Corporal?"
"Um, fine. Fine, ma'am."
"I'll be back with your morning meds." She patted his shoulder and headed down the aisle to the nurses' station. Her cap felt loose, so she adjusted a bobby pin that clamped it to the helmet of thick black braids coiled around her head. Her crowning glory, Papa called it.
Poor Papa. Acid ate at her stomach, and Mellie dove into song to neutralize it. The Filipino folk song "Bahay Kubo" reminded her of traipsing through the jungle with Papa on his botanical excursions. It reminded her of his love, as warm as the Filipino sun. It reminded her to pray for him. If only he hadn't sent her stateside a year ago. If only he'd come with her. No news had arrived since the Japanese conquered the Philippines a few months before, and the State Department and Red Cross hadn't found out Papa's fate. How could she go on without him?
Work kept her busy, but worry pricked up and made her restless.
She opened another blackout curtain and gazed out onto Walter Reed's manicured grounds. A year in Washington DC was enough. So much more of the world waited to be explored. The war thrust barriers between her and adventure, but it offered new paths as well.
The door to the ward opened, and Lieutenant Newman, the chief nurse, leaned in. "Lieutenant Blake? Please come to my office on your lunch break."
"Yes, ma'am." The meeting had to be about her upcoming transfer to the Air Evacuation Group forming at Bowman Field in Kentucky. A smile climbed too high on Mellie's face, and she covered her mouth.
When the Army Air Force announced plans to train nurses to assist in air evacuation, Mellie had begged the chief for a recommendation. Flight nurses would fly into combat areas, load the wounded, and care for them in the air. They would be stationed all over the world. Perhaps even in the Pacific, close to Papa.
Next month, Mellie would begin training. That thought put an extra trill into her song.
"Must you?" At the nurses' station, Lieutenant Ingham scrunched her heart-shaped face into a frown. "That infernal singing. Honestly, Philomela, we're all sick of it."
"Sorry." Mellie's cheeks warmed, and she picked up the tray of meds she'd prepared earlier. How could she stop doing what she was born to do, something that provided relief to her patients? When she sang, pain-wrinkled brows smoothed. She returned to the ward and her song, but in a softer voice.
Philomela meant "nightingale," and her first storybook was The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. The emperor of China treasured a pet nightingale and its song. But when he received a mechanical singing bird, he forgot the nightingale, which retreated to the lonely forest. While the little bird in the story longed to return to court, Mellie felt most at home in the forest, bringing musical comfort to passersby.
Next month, she'd enter a new forest.
* * *
"I can't believe you missed last night's meeting, Philomela." Lieutenant Newman's big blue eyes stretched even wider.
"I thought it was optional. For a morale program." Mellie shifted in her seat in the chief nurse's office.
"It is, but I want everyone to participate. You do want to participate, don't you?"
"Well, I ..." She lowered her gaze and straightened the skirt of her white ward dress. "I didn't really consider it."
The chief walked to the window and heaved a sigh. "Oh, Philomela, I don't understand you. You're an excellent nurse, but I simply don't understand you."
"It's a letter-writing campaign, isn't it? To men we've never met?"
Her lovely face lit up. "Yes. To the officers in my husband's unit. It's an Engineer Aviation Battalion based in England. It will all be anonymous. Isn't that fun?"
England sounded like fun. Writing to a strange man did not. "I wouldn't know what to say to someone I've never met."
"Say anything you like. I imagine you write a nice letter. You speak excellent English for a foreigner."
Mellie restrained her sigh. Always with one foot in one land, one foot in the other, never belonging in either. "Actually, ma'am, I'm an American. I was born in the Philippines, yes, but my father's American and my mother was half-American, half-Filipino."
"Yes. Well then." The chief fingered the window casement. "Well then, I'm sure you write a lovely letter."
Mellie rolled the hem of her skirt in her fingers. "But I've never ... I've never written to a stranger before."
"He's hardly a stranger. He's an American officer. All the other nurses are excited about it. I need one more volunteer, or one poor gentleman won't receive a letter."
She stretched her skirt back down over her knees. "That would be horrible, but maybe ... maybe someone would be willing to write two letters."
"Come now." Lieutenant Newman sat on the edge of her desk, right in front of Mellie, and she leaned close. "Please, Philomela? I would be so disappointed if you didn't participate. Especially after I recommended you for the Air Evacuation Group. I didn't mention how you don't have any friends here. Perhaps I should have." She glanced down to the desk and traced her finger back and forth, as if erasing her recommendation.
Mellie's throat swelled shut. "But—but why would any man want to hear from me?"
The chief flashed a bright smile. "Remember, it's anonymous. No names, no pictures. Just a nice letter to encourage our boys overseas."
Mellie dropped her chin and squeezed her eyes shut. She felt so awkward in social situations.
"Oh please, Philomela? Please? It's only one letter."
Mellie lifted her head. Outside the window, the horizon beckoned. "One letter," she whispered.
* * *
"One letter." Mellie groaned. The blank sheet of airmail stationery taunted her. "Lord, what can I say?"
In the hallway, a group of nurses squealed and giggled. Mellie peeked around the post of her bunk. The ladies hooked arms and strolled away, laughing and chatting, off to some fun activity.
Longing tugged at her chest. She set aside the stationery and stroked the worn burgundy cover of the scrapbook she used as a writing surface. On the black pages inside lay her childhood friends, who had kept her company on countless lonely days at home and abroad. She flipped through, and her friends offered paper smiles just for her, paper ears to listen, and paper eyes that accepted her.
Children from magazines, catalogs, and newspaper articles. They'd never played hopscotch with her or whispered their secrets to her.
A thin substitute for friendship, but it was all she'd ever had. Overseas, she'd been the only child on Papa's expeditions. Stateside, the boys and girls found her odd and foreign.
Halfway through the scrapbook, the faces shifted from children she had needed to children who needed her.
The first, a little fair-haired boy, had started her mission of mercy. His mother stood behind him, one arm clutched around his shoulders, her face angled to the side, chin high and brave and fearsome. The boy wore short pants and a little jacket. One foot toed in. One hand grasped his mother's forearm around him, the other hung limp by his side. With his chin dipped, he looked at the newspaper photographer as if his life had been stripped from him.
It had. His father had just been sentenced to death for murder.
The nation cheered. No one cared about the boy. So Mellie cut his picture out of the newspaper, pasted it in her scrapbook, and prayed for him.
Others followed. A hollow-eyed little girl with stringy blonde hair, riding an overloaded jalopy from the Oklahoma dust bowl to points unknown. A colored boy blinded by a fire, his eyes swathed in bandages. A Filipino girl, her face disfigured by a tropical disease.
Mellie prayed for them every day. While the other children had provided a sense of companionship, these children provided her with purpose. What if she was the only person praying for them? Even in her isolation, she could still extend mercy.
She glanced at the empty sheet of stationery on her bed.
Across the ocean, perhaps another young man needed her. What if a letter could ease his fears or worries or loneliness? What if her prayers could strengthen him?
What if he wrote back?
Mellie's breath caught. On paper it wouldn't matter if she were a rose or an orchid. Perhaps a friendship could develop, still a paper friendship, but more than she'd ever had before.
"Lord, give me the right words." She set the stationery on top of her scrapbook and put pen to paper.
Lt. Thomas MacGilliver Jr. prepared to walk the plank.
"Ahoy there, mateys." Tom stood on the superstructure of the British transport ship and grinned. Below him on the deck, the men in his platoon gaped and laughed. He turned to Privates Earl Butler and Conrad Davis behind him. "Got it?"
"Sure thing, Gill." Butler clamped the four-inch pipe under his beefy arm and gripped it in his hands. The length of pipe crossed the metal railing for the superstructure and stretched over the deck ten feet below.
"Hey, boss!" Private Bill Rinaldi stood beside Butler. "You're going swimming with the sharks."
"Yeah. Watch out for those English sharks. On a ship." Tom climbed the railing, held on to it, and arranged his bare feet on the pipe. The rough texture from corrosion in the salty air would help him keep his footing. He stretched his arms wide and slowly rose to standing.
Mumbled praise built into a low chorus, and Tom smiled. The men needed a diversion. Any day now the U.S. 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion would sail to North Africa for Operation Torch, although only the officers knew the destination. In a few weeks, the men would know the taste of battle.
"This, boys, is what a cantilever bridge is like." He stepped forward like a tightrope walker, curling his feet around the rusty pipe. Another step and the murmurs grew. His construction work on Pittsburgh's bridges to put himself through engineering school had paid off. "The bridge can handle my load because Butler and Davis provide a counterweight. Imagine another segment coming from the other direction toward me, also balanced by a counterweight. Where the two segments meet, you only need a pin to join them."
He stepped to within a foot of the end, his arms outstretched, and gazed down at the laughing crowd. Everywhere, always a laughing crowd. But never a friend.
Tom cleared his throat and flung a smile back on his face. "As long as you do your calculations and get the right counterweight—and Butler's got plenty of that ..."
Hoots and hollers rewarded him.
"Hey, Gill!" Rinaldi called from behind him. "Did you calculate that Butler's ticklish as a little girl?" He wiggled his fingers near Butler's thick midsection.
"Don't!" Tom squatted and grabbed the pipe. "No, Rinaldi. Don't!"
The pipe wobbled as Butler edged away from his friend. "Don't, or I'll—"
"Should have thought of that before you dumped salt in my coffee." Rinaldi jabbed Butler in the ribs.
The pipe lurched to the side and broke Tom's grip. He grasped for it, but it bounced away. He dropped to the deck, banging his hip and his shoulder.
The men howled with laughter. Tom hoisted himself to his feet and rubbed his sore hip. He'd get a bruise, but it was worth it.
Someone pulled the plug in the basin of laughter, and it all drained away. Tom turned to face Capt. Dick Newman, commander of Company B of the 908th. Tom saluted. "Captain."
"Lieutenant." Newman's dark eyes took in the scene. "Another engineering lesson?"
"Yes, sir. Someone's got to educate these lumps."
"A little less education, a little more discipline." But the corner of the captain's mouth flicked up. He stepped to the side and motioned to the man behind him. "Just assigned a new man to your platoon, Staff Sergeant Larry Fong."
"Hey! What's a Jap doing here?" That voice—Tom's platoon sergeant, Hal Weiser.
Tom settled a smile on Weiser. "Fong's a Chinese name, not Japanese. The Chinese are our Allies, remember? And the sergeant's an American."
"Three generations, sir." Sergeant Fong wore a bright smile. He had some height to him, matching Tom's five foot ten.
Tom extended his hand. "Nice to meet you, Sergeant. Welcome to the platoon."
Fong shook his hand. "Thank you, Lieutenant ...?"
The moment suspended in air, the always-too-brief moment when Tom could be one of the guys. Before they knew his name. Mom was right when she discouraged him from changing his name—lying would be wrong—but he still wished he were someone else.
He set his face in the proper cheerful expression. "Lt. Tom MacGilliver."
The sergeant's eyebrows popped up in recognition.
Captain Newman set his hand on Fong's shoulder. "The sergeant will take Weiser's place as platoon sergeant, and Weiser will take Duke's squad, since Duke's in the hospital and won't join our excursion. Fong had a couple years of engineering school at the University of California before he got called up. That's why I put him with you, Gill."
Tom's grin widened. "Cal, huh? I went to the University of Pittsburgh. We can pick each other's brains."
"Sorry, sir. I didn't get past my lower division work. But after the war—can't wait to get back. In the meantime, on-the-job training."
"Great. Glad you're in my platoon." He motioned for the sergeant to come with him and set a path down the starboard side of the ship. He could think of several reasons for the captain's decision, the least of which was to put the engineering student with the graduate engineer. Chinese or not, the sergeant wouldn't be accepted in authority over a squad. And Tom's platoon served as the dumping place for men the other two platoon commanders in the company didn't want. The misfit platoon.
A brisk breeze snaked by, and Sergeant Fong held on to his garrison cap. "Say, Lieutenant, that's a bum rap of a name. Just like MacGilliver the Killiver."
Thank goodness Tom had years of experience smiling over the pain. "He was my father."
"Your ... I'm sorry, sir."
"He left when I was five and was gone when I was seven. Barely knew him. And I take after my mother. Completely harmless."
"Of course. I never—I didn't mean—"
"So what field of engineering are you interested in? I'm in civil."
Fong's face relaxed a bit. "Electrical, sir."
"Good." Tom nodded and leaned on the ship's railing. He gazed around the estuary of the Mersey River, where dozens of British and American transports anchored, holding the Eastern and Center forces for the invasion of Algeria. The Western force would sail straight from the U.S. to French Morocco.
"That would be a good place for a bridge." He pointed northwest to where the Mersey narrowed between Liverpool and Wallasey. "A suspension bridge. The towers and cables would resemble sails, honor Liverpool's nautical history."
The sergeant frowned. "Isn't there a tunnel under the river?"
Tom rearranged his arms on the ship's railing. "Tunnels are so ... impersonal, hiding underground as if the two sides were ashamed to associate with each other. Bridges are visible, personal, proud to make the connection."
Larry squinted at the empty space over the river. "Yeah. Yeah, I see what you mean."
The design flew together in Tom's head. "I want to build bridges all over the world, connect people and places."
Excerpted from With Every Letter by SARAH SUNDIN Copyright © 2012 by Sarah Sundin. Excerpted by permission of Revell. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 27, 2012
I really love Sundin’s books. They’re all set during World War II and the best description I can come up with to describe them is “the greatest generation.” They’re great stories, but it also feels like I’m reading a tribute to the amazing men and women and the brave sacrifices they made to give us the gift of freedom that we enjoy today.
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Posted November 19, 2012
When I read Sarah's first book, A Distant Melody, I considered it one of the best books I had ever read. But she just keeps getting better! Readers who pick up With Every Letter with high expectations will not be disappointed. The characters are unique and well-developed. Both the hero and heroine start out with huge obstacles that threaten to interfere not just with romance, but with their ability to relate to the rest of the world, for the rest of their lives. The stakes are high personally, but also in terms of their contributions to the war effort. Both of them are in positions to save or lose many lives. The research for this novel alone is mind-boggling, as I discovered as I was whisked all over northern Africa. With Every Letter is another home run for Sarah Sundin. If you are interested in World War 2 history, you simply must read this tale. It's sure to satisfy lovers of historical fiction and historical romance everywhere.
~Jocelyn Green, author Wedded to War
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Posted September 3, 2014
Whenever I read one of Sarah Sundin's books, I feel like I'm cheating: I'm enjoying 3 subjects at once - fictional romance, God's Word, and American History. What I love about Sarah Sundin's work is her keen attention to detail and her very real characters. With Every Letter does not disappoint. I quickly became invested in the main characters, Mellie with her social inadequacies and Tom with his batter for identity. The secondary characters also added their own charm and realism to the plot, with my favorite secondary character being Sesame. I'm not going to give you a synopsis of the book (you can read that on the back of the novel itself), but I will tell you that it's beautifully written and highly enjoyable (not to mention the perks of getting history lessons in a fun setting). I look forward to reading the next book in the series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 29, 2014
I love Sarah Sundin's books for a few reasons: First, her characters are Christ-based, but also show their human flaws, and I can associate with her characters much better. Plus, she does not write each woman as a flaming beauty as so many authors do; and that really makes me feel better! In this day and time where one's looks can mean the difference between a job or not, or seemingly, I love it that Sundin changes the characters of each book and, in my opinion, seemingly writes them around a character flaw. I may be way off base on that, but that's how I am associating them. Secondly, I love the historical aspect of her books, and she researches the areas and time periods well before she writes the new novel. And lastly, her main characters either know the Lord or they come to know the Lord in the books. So that's three pluses for me!
I did think that this particular book dragged a little about 3/4 of the way through, but I liked it nonetheless. The main character, a nurse, faced problems with racism because she was bi-racial, part Filipino. If you want to know more, read the book: I am not going to be like so many and give a book report, so to speak, and tell the entire story. But enjoy!
Posted August 22, 2014
Posted August 9, 2014
This is the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series and it was hard for me to set down. The author did a great job of making me feel like I was back in the 1940’s during wartime.
The characters are so well-written, with deep backgrounds and lots of insecurities. Mellie was extremely self-conscious, timid, and unsure of how to make friends. Tom was falsely cheerful and afraid to let go of his emotions at all, for fear that he would turn out like his father. His timidity did grate on my nerves through the story, but I was glad when he finally was able to figure out how to be the man that God made him to be.
I love how these two met by being anonymous pen pals. It is exactly what they needed in order to open up to each other and fall in love. This is such a sweet story and so well done. I am now working my way through the series and am really enjoying all of these characters.
Posted June 19, 2014
If you haven't read Sarah Sundin's World War II novels, maybe you should. This writer knows her history, and she knows how to put it together in a way that makes it a joy to learn about this period in history.
With Every Letter is a story about a Filipino-American nurse, a young woman certain her exotic looks make her an object of scorn and someone to be shunned. She avoids friendships, especially with men. The only time and place where Mellie feels at ease is when she's singing to and caring for patients, war victims.
Her head nurse believes in her, but knows nursing takes teamwork. She has given Mellie an ultimatum--make friends or go home. So Mellie tries. In addition, Lieutenant Newman tells Mellie she must write anonymous letters to one of the homesick engineers. Reluctantly, she agrees. The letter she writes is thrown in the trash by the man who receives it.
One of the Engineers, Tom, doesn't like the letter that comes to him--the writer seems too flamboyant for him--but he sees the one dumped into the trash and exchanges his for that one. The woman seems a perfect match for him--not wanting any attachment, only friendship and anonymity.
When circumstances of the war throw them into the same area, that anonymity is threatened. They have revealed too much of their inner thoughts, fears, and hopes. Now what?
Posted December 23, 2013
This book has it all--romance, history, and a beautiful Christian message. I love historical fiction, and this is exactly what I love. I appreciated the fact that the hero and heroine both struggled to fit in--maybe because I could somewhat identify. I saw some of myself in Mellie, and probably less of myself in Tom, but I enjoyed these characters immensely. Every character was well-developed and played a part in the development of the story.
I appreciated the fact that the author tried to stay as true to the historical accounts as possible. This is what makes historical fiction my favorite genre. I also appreciate that God took an active role in the life of the characters. I was most touched when mercy was shown and God worked things out in unbelievable ways. It really made me stop and think about how I allow God to work in my life.
Okay, this is truly romantic. I never felt that it was "sappy." I have never seen "The Shop Around the Corner," but I saw "In the Good Old Summertime" (which was based on the former movie). I found myself charmed by the romantic interactions, and what could be more romantic than falling in love through the mail?
If you like WWII, romance, and old-fashioned charm, this is a must-read! This book will continue to hold a special place in my heart.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Posted August 2, 2013
I have read all of Sarah Sundin's books because I enjoy reading WW2 romance stories. Her books are predictable and her religious overtone might not be for everyone but I love her female characters and her knowledge of the time period. Although I know how the stories will end, I care enough about the main characters to want to continue reading. Actually, I look forward to it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2013
If you enjoy inspirational historical fiction, I recommend this book. This story has a quick pace while really giving the reader a sense
of who the characters are. I felt wrapped up in the feelings and thoughts of the characters and enjoyed watching them grow and learn.
I love that Sarah doesn't write about squeaky clean characters, but rather those with flaws who hurt and struggle. Overall good book.
Posted January 25, 2013
Posted September 25, 2012
Sarah Sundin in her new book, “With Every Letter” Book One in the Wings of the Nightingale series published by Revell takes us into the lives of Mellie Blake and Tom MacGilliver.
From the back cover: They know everything about each other–except their real names.
Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met–even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence–he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.
As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?
Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing–and true love.
I like history and, even though she won’t admit it, I think Sarah Sundin is secretly a historian. It is her attention to details that help draw you into the story as well, of course, as her marvelous characters. Ms. Sundin makes you feel as though you are there in every battle, experiencing every life threatening moment and feeling intense relief when it is finished. Back to the characters, both Mellie Blake and Tom MacGilliver are presented in such a real manner that you feel as though they are friends of yours and when the book eventually ends you are sorry to see them go. “With Every Letter” is an exciting book. However, as exciting as the story is the romance between Mellie and Tom takes top priority as each of them deals with their individual issues. ”With Every Letter” deals with themes of forgiveness and restoration as only God can produce. Ms. Sundin has done it again and I recommend this book highly. I am so looking forward to book two in this series.
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With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Posted September 24, 2012
With Every Letter is the first book in her new Wings of the Nightingale series. While watching Shop Around the Corner, she began wondering what it would be like to fall in love through letters at a soul connection. As she noodled on that idea, With Every Letter was born. Mellie is a woman who's never quite fit in and as a result is a loner who can't form friendships. But her boss is requiring her to if she wants to become a flight nurse. Tom is also a loner because of his past. He puts on a sunny front, but in reality he doesn't let people close. Both long for someone who knows them deeply, and through anonymous letters feel the safety to open their hearts to another. Both Mellie and Tom are surrounded with characters who reinforce their fears and others who dig deeper past the walls they've erected. Both firmly believe that love will never be possible for them...but if it could be, it would be with their anonymous letter sender.
Sarah is a masterful writer who captures the time with breath-taking detail. The journey of these characters will pull you in and leave you rooting for them to rise above their beliefs of themselves and do what it takes to risk love. I highly recommend it for lovers of historical
Posted September 23, 2012
Some of my most favorite and memorable movies are the old classic black and white movies starring Jimmy Stewart, and one of them is The Shop Around The Corner. It set the precedent for the newer movie, You've Got Mail and also the premise and background for Sarah Sundin's latest novel, With Every Letter. This is the first in the Wings of the Nightingale Series and being a huge fan of WWII fiction novels, I knew I wanted to read this one.
The book introduces us to two very different but similar characters. The first is Lt. Philomela "Mellie" Blake who we meet as a nurse at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center carrying for her patients while awaiting a response to become a flight nurse for the upcoming Air Evacuation Group that was forming in Bowman Field in Kentucky. When the Army Air Force announced plans to train nurses to assist in air evacuation, Mellie had begged the chief for a recommendation. Flight nurses would fly into combat areas, load the wounded, and care for them in the air. They would be stationed all over the world, and she hoped even in the Pacific, close to her Papa, who went missing when the Japanese conquered the Philippines a few months earlier and she doesn't know his fate, but believes he is still alive.
Yet the biggest challenge facing Mellie is her lack of social skills in making friends. She can work magic caring for the patients she oversees but forming any long, lasting connection, is near to impossible for her. When she is asked by chief nurse to participate in a letter writing campaign to boost morale and encourage the men serving in the armed forces, she is more than fearful. If she can't maintain relationships with men or women, how can she possible participate in this. But with encouragement from her chief nurse, she willingly agrees and finds that perhaps she might be on her way to something that might open doors for her to finally make friends.
Lt. Thomas MacGilliver Jr is the lucky recipient of Mellie's attempt at friendship through the letter writing campaign and they both have been asked not to reveal any details or names but to keep the letter writing as professional and encouraging on both ends as possible. Thomas is made aware that the letter writers are flight nurses and that is about as personal to her identity that Mellie and Thomas can be. What he finds is a fellow soul mate that speaks the same language she does. He, too, has a difficult time making friends and finds that aside from leading a platoon of men into war, that is about as far as his relationships go as well. He also has a dark past that he is trying to escape from and with Mellie's help, he may finally put his ghosts from his past to rest once and for all. So he finds a true friend through his letter writing with Mellie and that is the true treasure of this book.
It shows how much a letter from someone can really encourage one another through the hardships and trials of war. What may start as a friendship may lead to something more as Mellie and Tom get to know one another without revealing too much and find a love that goes beyond mere words on a page. It's taking the movie premise of letter writing to a completely different and timeless level in this wonderful book and what happens along the way is worth reading this historical novel. I can't wait for the next book in this series. I received this novel, With Every Letter, compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and have to say this one rates a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. For those of you that love a great historical romance set in the midst of WW2, then you will truly LOVE this novel!
Posted September 22, 2012
This reader is delighted that there is a new series Wings of the Nightingale coming from Christian Historical Fiction author Sarah Sundin. I still hold that A Distant Melody might be one of my favorite books ever and with all that I read, this is a really saying something – so bringing on a new series, I couldn’t be more delighted and excited to see what I might find within the pages of such a novel and over the top, I was not disappointed. I knew, before I knew anything else, through a conversation with Sarah that this was going to be a war times You’ve Got Mail/The Shop Around the Corner story, but different and that’s exactly what it was. I’d love to see *this* one as a film!
With Every Letter did not grip me from the first page, because I found myself to be very unsure about Mellie, our heroine. However, as she learned to truly love and accept herself, I realized myself to grow to love her as well and with the type of story that this was that is a perfect reader/novel relationship. Tom our hero is a great character as well. This story is more about the people than the setting, and while it is interesting it was the content of the letters and emotions that I wanted more of and was granted within these pages.
Giving plenty of laugh-out-loud, quit-it-I’m-going-to-cry, and down right cannot turn the pages fast enough or even would someone please watch my children so that I can just go read and see what happens next— this was a read that I definitely did not want to miss and it was a completely delightful one a that. I’m not surprised to find myself loving it and as I finish the pages what I do find myself is devastated that I will have to wait so long for more Wings of the Nightingale series. Honestly, I want to know more about Kay…
*Thanks to Revell Books for providing a copy for review.*
Posted September 20, 2012
A WONDERFUL NEW WWWII SERIES!
WITH EVERY LETTER by Sarah Sundin is in exciting christian historical romance set during the WWII era. It is book #1 in the "Wings of the Nightingale" series. If you enjoy the drama of the WWII era you will love this fast paced, adventure filled and action packed story. Follow Lt. Mellie Blake and Lt.Tom MacGilliver as they transverse the sea of love,romance,faith,secrets,nursing,aviation,flight nurses, suspense,and the perilous challenges of war. "With Every Letter" is a compelling and beautiful love story that will leave you in awe. It has engaging characters who will steal your heart as you follow them on their journey of danger and their discovery of love. A must read for anyone who enjoys a good WWII era story,nursing fans, aviation readers, historical fans will love it, as well as romance readers. I can hardly wait to read the next installment in this series. Ms. Sundin knows how to bring the reader into her stories and hold then there. Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details can be found at Revell,a division of Baker Publishing Group, the author's website, and My Book Addiction Reviews.
**Coming in September from Revell,a division of Baker Publishing Group**
HEAT RATING: SWEET
REVIEWED BY: AprilR,My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews
Posted September 20, 2012
With Every Letter is another compelling story written by Sarah Sundin. I can easily say she is one of my favorite authors. Her details of World War II are meticulously researched, and her characters are written with a depth and sensitivity that leave the reader with those mixed feelings of satisfaction at a story well-told and a sense of melancholy when it comes to an end and old friends are left behind.
Bullying is a theme in With Every Letter, and whether it is expressed subtly or more directly, it knows no bounds in the characters' ages or the era they lived in. The spiritual thread is handled with a light touch, and adds another complex theme; especially in Mellie and Tom's cases, where each struggles with a difficult and painful past. Sundin's books not only take you to another time and place, but you will connect with her characters and come away with a deeper sense of hope.
Posted September 17, 2012
In Every Letter, Sarah Sundin does an exquisite job of exposing how tangled thinking from past wounds harms present decisions with the potential to destroy future possibilities. Mellie's World War 2 nurses flight training and Tom's engineering are crippled by their concealed pasts. Only anonymous letters allow them to express their true selves. A griping page turner, the reader races to discover if they an unravel their complex situations and discover truths to set them free. Through her meticulous research and character development, the author makes the dangers of the war come to life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2012
"With Every Letter" is strictly Christian Fiction and I need to say that from the outset of my review. This is not a book I can recommend to those who are looking simply to read something well written with a WWII love story including women nurses and handsome naval officers. While it does have all the makings of those things, and while Sarah Sundin does tell that story beautifully, this book has its foundation firmly in the spiritual. And that's wonderful from my perspective, but it may not be for everyone. So, I'm stating it from the beginning.
Sundin is a fine writer who easily climbs into your heart with sympathetic characters like Mellie and Tom who are broken by life's hardships and up-hill battles. They are vulnerable and lonely, which makes them perfect companions for a long distance letter-writing campaign. Friendless and inept at being comfortable in their own skins, these two walk through the wartime paces of nursing on an aircraft evacuation unit, and a battleship/landing strip command with low self-esteem and the bolsterings of their letters to each other, insistent commanders who push them to reach beyond their comfort levels, and other "friends" they're forced to make. Circumstances have pushed them together over mail, and their paper encounters become the fuel that eventually ignites a true relationship between them.
The book is about their commonalities: low self-esteem, difficulties making friends, dysfunctional up-bringings, shyness and inability to be able to "be themselves," and their shared faith in a God who hears their prayers and loves them despite it all. It's through their letters that they find this common bond of prayer, and then a friendship that allows them the anonymity to grow in grace and prepare for real love with another who can accept them as they truly are.
It was a refreshing read filled with surprises and unexpected turns of events. A book that was uplifting and generous in its characterizations even of secondary characters. A story that was heart-warming and real. A book that shares the unfailing connections that God can bring about even in our isolation, and even in the impossible ways we could never imagine...His love can reach us no matter where we are.
I thoroughly enjoyed "With Every Letter," and hope you will have a chance to read it, as well. This is the first in Ms Sundin's "Wings of the Nightingale" series which I hope to keep reading in the future. A gentle and time honoring read, I recommend this one to those who love historical fiction and wonder how love can find us out in every corner at any time.
Posted September 13, 2012
It's 1942, and the United States has joined the War. Patriotism is at an all-time high, and there is a group of nurses who are eager to become the first flight nurses for the U. S. Army Air Force. Philomela Blake is one of the nurses who are being trained to assist in air evacuation. When Lieutenant Newman, the chief nurse, announces a new morale-building program, she requires full participation; that means even Philomela. The program is an anonymous pen pal program between her nurses and the officers in her husband's unit. Philomela agrees reluctantly, knowing that she has never known how to befriend others. As their correspondence ensues, the question is whether the resulting friendship and growing love will withstand a face-to-face meeting, or if it was destined to only be an anonymous courtship.
First, I will admit that I'm compulsively drawn to WWII-era stories like this. There was no question of whether or not I would read and review this book. Ms. Sundin has done an excellent job of portraying the era and locales. She researched the history of the flight nurses extensively, and it shows in her writing. The characters were interesting, and the story kept me hooked. While the ending was predictable, I still had to know HOW it happened. My only criticism, and I hesitate to use that word, is that the characters' personalities and problems were a bit overdone. Philomela was socially inept to the point of being unbelievable, and to think that everyone seemed to know the horrible secret of Tom's family was a bit of a reach. But it's not enough of a problem to ruin the story, so disregard my complaining, and read the book. It's that good.