I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan is set during WWII. The story is told through a series of letters between two women waiting for their husbands to come home from war. Glory, who lives in Rockport, Massachusetts, is a young bride who is pregnant at the start of her correspondence with Rita, and also has a son who is a toddler. Rita, who lives in Iowa City, Iowa, not only has a husband who is fighting in the war, but also a son, Toby, who is only 18 years old. The women, who became pen pals through the 4-H club, write about love, friendships, good days, and bad days. They share the most intimate details of their lives with each other, as well as war recipes. The women go years without meeting, but that doesn’t keep their friendship from growing deeper and stronger, just like their victory gardens.
I really enjoyed this novel. As a military wife myself, I was able to relate to many of the struggles the women were facing, even though their struggles occurred more than 65 years ago. Glory and Rita are strong military wives. Not only do they hold up the home front, but they also get out into society and work for what they believe in, instead of just staying at home and moping. I think that’s one of the hardest things to do while your Soldier is away: stop crying, get out of the house, and do something worth doing. It’s definitely easier said than done. Glory and Rita both have those days full of tears and worry, but that doesn’t stop them from picking themselves up off the floor and embracing a new day after a difficult one. Their friendship, molded through letters, gives both of them something to look forward to.
Letters are special, and we don’t really write them anymore. While Jim was at BCT, we wrote letters back and forth for ten weeks and four days. There is a special thrill that you get when a letter comes in the mail, it’s so different from the feeling you get when you see an email in your inbox. Glory and Rita live for letters from not only each other, but also from their loved ones stationed overseas. Unlike today, email was not available and letter writing was the only option. The women would go weeks not hearing from their husbands (and son in Rita’s case) and could only hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
I didn’t cry too much throughout this book, although it is an emotional read, but I did cry as soon as I opened the book and read this quote, “To all the women who have waited…and to those who continue to wait.” Maybe it was because I was sitting in the airport about to start my 13 hour flight back to Korea, or maybe it was because I fear the unknown, but it really hit home. I knew that this was going to be a wonderful book and it certainly lived up to my expectations.
At times, the letters between the ladies seemed a bit repetitive, but I’m sure that happens in real life letters as well. I didn’t like the love affair that Glory has with her childhood friend and husband’s best friend, Levi. I wouldn’t consider this a spoiler because it is stated early on about how Levi, Glory, and her husband, Robert, have always been best friends and how there were always unsettled feelings between Glory and Levi. I hated this storyline because many military wives are portrayed as floozies when their husbands go off to war. I always see on TV shows and movies how women are going into bars and flirting with other guys while their husbands are deployed. Sure, that happens, but not as much as society may think. Most of us are loyal to their husbands through thick and thin; after all, we signed up for this life, just like they did.
I would highly recommend this book to all military wives. I would also recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a historical fiction novel about military wives during WWII. I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan goes on sale on May 28. You can pre-order your copy today!
I was given an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.