I'll Be Seeing You

I'll Be Seeing You


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I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes, Loretta Nyhan

"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation…"

It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other's unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I'll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778314950
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Edition description: Original
Pages: 313
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Hayes is the author of the novel The Witch of Little Italy (written as Suzanne Palmieri), and her essays have been published in Life Learning Magazine and Full of Crow: On the Wing edition. She lives with her husband and three daughters in New Haven, Connecticut.

Six-time Audie nominee and multiple Earphones and Parent's Choice Award-winning producer, narrator, and writer Tavia Gilbert has appeared on stage and in film. Library Journal said this of the highly-acclaimed actress: 'as close as you can get to a full cast narration with a solo voice.' She has narrated more than 350 multi-cast and single-voice audiobooks.

Rudd, who lives in West Michigan near the Brilliance Audio studios, happened upon narrating as something to supplement her acting career. "There's a lot going on here in terms of short films and independent films…There's enough to stay active and to occasionally catch a windfall, but a lot of times we do it because we love it…”

Read an Excerpt

January 19, 1943
Rockport, Massachusetts

Dear "Garden Witch,"

I've stained my fingers blue trying to do this right.

Tonight, though, I'm feeling rather lonesome and overwhelmed, so I'm throwing caution to the wind and finally writing to you, a woman I do not know, with the honest understanding that you might not have the time (or desire) to write back in return.

I guess the best place to begin is at the beginning, right?

There's a ladies' 4-H group that meets at the church hall on Wednesday afternoons. I don't really fit in, but I'm trying to pass the time. Anyway, they didn't give out real names, only these addresses, you know? And said if we felt lonesome (which I do) or desperate (which I didn't…but I feel it creeping in on me day by day) or anything, we could sit down and write a letter to another girl who might be in the same situation. The situation. I just loved the way Old Lady Moldyflower (Mrs. Moldenhauer) said it. What does she know about our "situation"?

They passed a hat around that held pieces of paper with fake names and real addresses. I suppose the purpose is anonymity, but I figured if we are going to write, why not know each other? The paper slips hadn't been folded, and the girls were sifting through, picking whichever struck their fancy. The whole exercise felt silly and impractical, to tell you the truth. I wasn't going to take a name at all, but Mrs. Moldenhauer nudged me so hard I believe she left a bruise on my upper arm. To spite her, I picked last. I guess the other girls skipped over you because you have "witch" in your fake name. I feel lucky I got you. I could use a little magic these days. I'm seven months along now, and Robbie, Jr. is only just two. He's a holy terror.

Well…here's hoping you get this and you feel like writing back. It'll be good to run to the mailbox looking for a letter without an army seal on it.

My name is Gloria Whitehall. I'm twenty-three years old. My husband is First Sergeant Robert Whitehall in the Second Infantry. Nice to make your acquaintance.

With fondest regards,

February 1, 1943
Iowa City, Iowa

Dear Glory,

I hope this letter finds you well.

I apologize for its lateness, but to be honest I spent a week debating whether or not to pass your letter along to Mrs. Kleinschmidt, my next-door neighbor. She dragged me to the Christmas party for the 4-H, which is when we war wives scrawled our phony names on those slips of pink paper. I was in an awful mood, hence my choice of pseudonym. I do, however, have a lovely garden from late spring through early fall. I can't say it's magical, but it definitely has personality. I planted sunflowers last year and they grew to enormous heights, nearly reaching our gutters. Mrs. Kleinschmidt pronounced them "vulgar" and claimed that staring at their round, pockmarked faces gave her headaches. Of course, this is only incentive to plant more this year.

Now, lest you think I truly am a witch, I should tell you about my "situation," as your Rockport version of Mrs. K. so quaintly puts it.

My husband, Sal, is too old to fight in a war but signed up, anyway, right after Pearl Harbor. Until then he'd been teaching biology at the university here. He spent some years working in a hospital when we lived in Chicago, so they placed him as a medic with the 34th Infantry. Last I read, his division was in Tunisia. I had to look it up on a map.

My boy, Toby, turned eighteen on Halloween. By Christmas he was in Maryland starting his basic training for the navy. On the day he left I was still making his bed and pressing out his clothes, so I'm worried sick about how he's going to manage. I can't imagine the drill sergeants are patient.

Toby also looks young for his age. His cheeks are still rosy, and his hair is the color of the corn that grows on every square foot of this state. My parents were from Munich, so I've filled him with schnitzel and potato dumplings since he was as old as your Robbie. I'm hoping if he's spotted by the Germans they'll take one look and mistake him for one of their own. The Fiihrer's dream!

Your boy sounds like a rascal. Toby was always quiet, but I do remember those toddler years—chasing him around the backyard, up the stairs, down the street. I didn't treasure them. I couldn't wait until he grew old enough to talk to me while we ate lunch. When he did, all he wanted to do was stick his nose in a book.

I also understand about loneliness and not fitting in. I've lived in this town for ten years and only have one woman I can call a true friend. Her name is Irene and she works at the university library. We met at a weekday matinee showing of The Thin Man back in '35 at the Englert Theater here in Iowa City. I was dead sick of sitting by myself at the pictures, so I walked up to Irene and said her pretty dark hair made her look just like Myrna Loy. (It doesn't, not even if you squint.) She laughed at the empty compliment and we've been friends ever since.

Irene is a few years younger than me, shy and unmarried, but I've come to realize those types of differences become mere trivialities with the passing of time. She and I meet for lunch almost every afternoon, freezing our behinds off on a metal picnic bench because the navy shut the cafeterias down for aviator training. I would think that kind of instruction would mostly take place in the air, but what do I know? We moan and groan, but I honestly don't mind the chill. In fact, the lunch hour is the highlight of my day.

So that's me. Marguerite Vincenzo. Almost forty-one years old. Garden Witch.

It's nice to meet you over these many miles, Glory. You said you need some magic? Well, I need something glorious. This town doesn't provide much in the way of that.



P.S. The people here call me Margie. I hate it. Sal calls me Rita sometimes, so I'd like to go by that. I hope you don't mind.

February 14, 1943
Rockport, Massachusetts

Dear Rita,

Rita? Like Rita Hayworth? Oh, gosh, I love that name. Do you have red hair? Oh, Rita, I'm so glad you wrote back. I was scared I might have chased you away.

And then I read your letter every night. Thinking about your boy and your husband, Sal. He's Italian? I wish I was. I think it would be very romantic to be Italian. I spent some time in Italy when I was growing up. Sometimes now, when I think about this war, I wonder about the beautiful places I've been, the people I met, and worry. What will the world look like after all this violence?

Your words gave me a much needed respite from worry. Thank you for that. I laughed and laughed about the sunflowers. I want to learn to do something with this rocky patch of land I have here behind the house. It's falling down due to a lack of upkeep, but lovely just the same. Robert wants me to move in with his mother who lives in Beverly, but I can't leave this place. It was my family's summerhouse (though since I married Robert, we've called it our permanent home). It's so soothing, with the sea on one side and the woods on the other. I'm only ten minutes from town and the bus stops right at the end of our road. I wish he wouldn't worry so much. I've been independent all my life.

So, your Sal is in Tunisia? How exciting! My Robert is in Sparta, Wisconsin, training. I guess it's going to be cold over in Europe. Funny, I always remember it being warm there. I find myself thinking more and more about the past the bigger my belly gets with this baby. Isn't that strange? But I suppose this war makes thinking about the future too difficult.

Tell me more about you, Rita. Tell me what else you grow in your garden and how you grow it. Should I be doing anything now in my yard? Tell me what it's like to have a grown-up boy. Robbie might just kill me. He already hates the baby. I'm trying to tell him everything will be all right, but how can I say it with a straight face? My son's no idiot. He knows when I'm lying.

The medicine wont taste bad.

The bath is not hot.

Daddy will be safe.


I'm so big now I can't do much. And the snow…it falls and there isn't any relief. I go to the market once a week and then come home.

So thank you, Rita. Thank you for writing back. Because life is so closed up…and now it feels more open, like a wide, wide field in Iowa.

I'm enclosing a sketch of my square bit of earth here on the cliffs that I call a backyard. It's sunny. Tell me what I should plant in my victory garden, Garden Witch.

And tell me a better lie to tell my son so he grows up as good and open and pure as yours seems to be.

With great newfound affection,


February 19, 1943
Iowa City, Iowa

Dear Glory,

I wish I had red hair! Once my hair was as vibrant as Toby's, but now it's faded and pale. I wear bright coral lipstick all the time so people have something else to look at. Thank heavens for Mr. Max Factor.

Anyway, your letter came just before lunch yesterday. I read it while picking at a hamburger plate in a dark leather booth at the Capitol Cafe. Irene is in Omaha visiting family, so I'd planned on staying inside with some egg salad and a cup of tea. Then the postman arrived and I got ants in my pants so I grabbed what he brought and hoofed it into town.

The emptiness is hard to get used to. It's the middle of the academic term, yet I could roll a bowling ball down Washington Street and not hit a soul. I'm sure the weather has something to do with it (a whopping eight degrees at noontime), but more likely it's this war. With so many boys gone overseas the university might as well rename itself Sister Josephine's School for Educating Ladies. And those gals have no time for meandering—they are busy bees indeed.

It sounds like you have your hands full as well. Robbie will come around, but he is at a tough age. Now that I think about it, all the ages are difficult, even after they leave the house. Take my Toby, for instance. Turns out you were slightly mistaken in your assessment of him—he isn't quite on the shortlist for sainthood.

I had just returned from the cafe yesterday when someone knocked on the front door. My heart nearly stopped beating—the unannounced visitor is about as welcome as the devil these days—and I ran to the window to see if a government vehicle sat in our driveway. I wanted to start dancing when I saw it was a girl standing on the porch. She was a colorless, skinny thing, mewling like a cat, and when I ushered her inside she started crying, tears so big and fat I worried she'd drown.

Her name is Roylene.

"My daddy owns Roy's Tavern? On Clinton Street? By the co-op grocery?"

Everything is a question with this girl, like she doesn't trust herself enough for the declarative. I took her coat and snuck a sly glance at her tummy (flat as a pancake, thank God), and poured a cup for her. She slurped at it like a Chinaman.

Apparently when my Toby turned eighteen he headed straight for the enlistment office, and then took a detour through Roy's Tavern on his way home. Instead of going to class last November he sat on a bar stool writing in his notebooks and spouting poetry to Roylene. "My daddy says I'm no good behind the bar? So I work in the kitchen? Toby sits between the sacks of flour and potatoes and keeps me company?"

At that last question she started crying again. I swear, Glory, I did not know what to do. I patted her hand, which was all bone. That girl might work in a kitchen but she sure isn't doing any eating.

"Have you tried writing to him, hon?" She cried harder at this, her small frame racking over my kitchen table.

"I'm no good at it? I thought I'd just wait until he came back? But I can't wait anymore?"

"Do you want me to include a message from you when I write to him?"

Her face lit up, and for a few short seconds I could see what kept Toby interested.


So she's coming back next Monday, her day off. I have no idea what Toby really thinks of her. I'm tempted to write him a letter first, to ask, but now that just seems mean.

I have been giving some thought to your garden. I'm spoiled— Iowa's soil is rich and loamy. I was stumped, so I asked Irene. She said to think about the rocky places we're reading about in the newspapers—the shores of Italy, the mountains of Greece. What do they grow there? Oregano? Lemon balm?

Or, you could simply throw down a few inches of compost and fake it. That's what we do, isn't it? Do the best with what we have? It's not lying, dear. Don't look at it that way. It's hopeful pretending. Consider it your patriotic duty.



February 20, 1943

V-mail from Marguerite Vincenzo to Pfc. Salvatore Vincenzo

Sal, I can fit exactly fifteen lines on these damn things. Sixteen if I don't sign my name. You'll know who it's from, wontcha? Maybe I'll seal it with a kiss and the censor can get lipstick all over his fingers.

I miss you. The nights are quiet, but the mornings are worse—this town seems cleared out, like everyone snuck off without saying goodbye. I know what you're thinking and I am trying to keep myself busy. Promise. I have a war wife pen pal (surprise, surprise) and Mrs. Kleinschmidt has me down at the American Legion rolling bandages. I hate the look of them. Bandages have only one use, you know?

I guess you do know. But I'm not supposed to write about things like that so I won't. The thought of you getting a letter with the words blacked out is just too depressing.

Anyway, Toby wrote last week. He said the air in Maryland smells like fish soup and his bunkmate's name is Howard. He neglected to mention anything about the girl who came looking for him a few days ago, some scrawny thing named Roylene. Ring a bell for you? Didn't for me. I suppose she's harmless enough.

Now I've done it. Only one line to say I love you. And I do. Be safe.

XO Rita

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A wonderful affirmation of the life-enhancing potential of female friendship." -Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife

"I devoured this story in one greedy, glorious gulp. Oh, the women! I love them. I love their families and their voices and their stories. I bet you'll love them, too." -Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Love Walked In

"A delight! I'll Be Seeing You made me want to get out a pen and paper and write a friend a good old-fashioned letter." -Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March

"Original and heartfelt...Set in World War II, yet somehow timeless, this novel is as beautifully written as it is captivating. An absolutely terrific debut." -Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Opposite of Me

"Women on the WWII home front faced loneliness and terrible fears. But I'll Be Seeing You tells the compelling story of two women who endured, bolstered by duty, love and, most important, friendship. I read this sweet, compassionate novel with my heart in my throat." -Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

"Vivid and well-crafted, I'll Be Seeing You poignantly illustrates the hopes and struggles of life on the home front. Readers will laugh, cry and be inspired by this timeless story of friendship and courage." -Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of The Kommandant's Girl

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I'll Be Seeing You 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'll Be Seeing You" had me hooked from the first page with its engaging tale of friendship between two pen pals in the WWII era. Rita and Glory are at two different stages of their lives -- Glory is just beginning her family and Rita has a grown son -- but their common bonds grow as the war drags on and their husbands continue to fight overseas. Their growing friendship becomes an unlikely source of strength and support for the two of them. Told entirely in letters and from the unique perspective of two women struggling to get through each day on the home front, Glory and Rita open up their personal stories to each other and to the reader in a thoroughly entertaining way that is simultaneously humorous, poignant, charming and painful. Wonderful period details abound, with tales of home front sacrifice, "ration recipes" (some good ones included in the book), victory gardens, trouble with children and neighbors and much more. The two women meet only through letters -- just as the two authors have not yet met in person according to the book description. This moving tale had me in tears and laughter; it's truly a must read.
GWReader More than 1 year ago
This book is STUNNING.  Rita and Glory's friendship is so beautiful, inspiring and heartfelt.  I laughed and cried, both more than a few times.   Every woman, 14 to 104 should totally read this. Loved it.  
clanbryce More than 1 year ago
Absolutely beautiful story. Take a break from the summer bodice-rippers and enjoy a trip to the recent past when letter writing was an art. 
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story of friendship and the tragedies that bring them closer.  I loved the dual authors perspective of the two main characters.  The characters are fabulous and the draw you into their lives in such an intimate fashion.  
ALG64 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much, unfortunately, it went to quickly. I just loved all the characters. At first I didn't know if I would like it because of the letters (not realizing it was ALL about the letters) but was into it immediately. These ladies write so well together - hope they have many books to come.
Jennza143 More than 1 year ago
I do not envy the unfortunate way these women had to find each other, but this book was amazing with what they did for each other. I love how the chapters were separated by their letters and how they included war recipes in them as well. I cried a few times while reading this book and was sad it had to end! I am recommending it for my book club!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know how I would feel about reading a book of letters, but I am loving it. I am almost done with it and cannot wait to pick it up at night! Thanks for all the positive reviews which prompted me to try this!
Alison973 More than 1 year ago
I found this on BN for $1.99. What a pleasant surprise. I really liked that it was written by 2 authors, you really get the different voices of each character. Recommended!
juliemac52 More than 1 year ago
This was a story of 2 totally opposite women waiting for their men. I won't get into detail, as much more would spoil the story. Just let me say, you get wrapped up in the story that develops between the 2 women and their separate families as they write to each other while waiting for their men to come home from the war. It is funny, sad, and all the typical family emotions are there to be enjoyed by the reader. A most excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just had to write a review for this wonderful book! The book is written in the form of letters sent between ladies during WWII. One lives in New England the other in Iowa. Through these poignant letters we learn so much about these women, their weaknesses, their lives and their soldiers! The author had me smiling, laughing and crying through the whole book. I was devasted that it had to end. You won't regret reading this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book, I felt like a snoop, reading someone's thoughts not meant to be trespassed upon. I did continue reading and receiveded a wonderful gift. When I finished with tears running down my cheeks, I realized this is Memorial weekend. I wanted to go get the letters I have in a box that my Father and Uncle wrote to my gramdmother during WWII. I thank the women who wrote this book and all of the women who paved the way for the rest of us with their bravery and vulnerabilities.
Bobbi_McGee More than 1 year ago
A wonderful journey of two women's growing friendship and love for each other during a terrible time of war.  This compilation of letters made me laugh at times, and made me cry too.  It also helped me understand stories my mom and gram told me about the time when my mother was pregnant with me and my birth towards the end of WWII.  Reading the letters brought both my mom and gram closer to me. Throughout the book my anticipation grew in bounds, I too waited for the next letter to arrive.  My fingers tapped and tapped my Nook trying to get to the next page as fast as I could.  Getting to know Rita and Glory was wonderful, by the end they were my friends too.  For me it was an emotional and sentimental read, and I loved learning about all the great characters involved.   Very well written, I highly recommend. The next ebook by these authors is available 5/27/14.  It's been pre-ordered, I cannot wait to read about two sisters during the roaring '20s and the search for a brother they didn't know existed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a pen pal many moons ago. This read made me think of that. My emotions wouldn't let me put the book down.Suzanne Palmieri keeps her reader emotions interested. That's why I like her books. It's so interesting reviewing our reads at book club. This book would be a great discussion at a book club each person reads things differently and has their own opinion. Defanitly give this one a go! Our club is reading next Suzanne Palmieri The Witches of Italy. Happy Reading!
mergyrx More than 1 year ago
liked it
flyovercountry More than 1 year ago
Very heartwarming and endearing conversation between the ladies on the home front. The timing of this book for this reader is very special, because I volunteer with a program that honors the WWII generation of veterans. These folks left home willingly to fight for their country. They left with aching hearts knowing their families would worry incessantly. The loved ones at home yearned to know how they were, and what was happening to them. A huge void existed unlike today when soldiers and families can be in touch in near real time. The gals on the home front back then had to be tough in an era when being strong wasn't necessarily the ladylike thing to do. I think of my own mother, a defense plant worker, wondering about a certain fellow and sharing her ration stamps with her parents so they'd have extra for her younger siblings at home. I recommend this book for anyone who thinks life in our times is a challenge. Our challenges today are minor in comparison to that era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will remember Glory and Rita long after you finish this book.
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i could,nt read it fast enough,, yet i hated it to end,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down long enough to pick upnthe tissues, So many heartfelt poignant moments.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read.