Thursday, June 18, 2015
World War II Women with different perspectives
I found these two books at my local library. World War II seems to the subject matter in a number of books recently including Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. I found these two very interesting because they were told from the viewpoint of women. A World Elsewhere - An American Woman in Wartime Germany by Sigrid MacRae and G I Brides - The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi were both fascinating as we are introduced to the stories of women who marry those other than their country men for love but find adjustments to another country and culture more difficult than imagined especially when related to war.
A World Elsewhere is written by a woman who never met her father as he died while her mother was pregnant with her. At her mother's death she is made aware of letters written by her father and papers which tell a broader story of both her mother and her father. It is need to know her father which causes Sigrid MacRae to dig deeper into the unique marriage of a German Baron and an American girl from Hartford, Connecticut who meet in Paris, marry in Germany, and raise a family of six on a farm north of Berlin as Hitler comes to power. The author begins with childhoods lived and follows a relationship formed and the family which follows. As so often happens in life, time and chance change and even destroy expectations. War brings great hardships and tragedy. The reader experiences WWII through the eyes of an American living in Germany with six children considered as Germans and in wars aftermath the struggle to bring her family back to the United States. This book brings to light a whole new perspective of what it was to have lived during WWII.
Did you know that there were 70,000 GI Brides who followed their men back to the United States at the end of WWII? G I Brides follows in detail the stories of four women from Great Britain who meet an American soldier, fall in love, and follow them back to their hometowns. The storytelling is real as are the locations and not all is happiness. There are families, especially mothers, to win over; cultural expectations to meet; war trauma to deal with in their spouses; and homesickness to overcome. I really liked the intimate sharing of what life was like in England during war time and well as each unique love story. I despaired with the women as they went about getting their paper work in place and securing passage to the United States some toting along toddlers and babies as well. Once again, a unique experience shared by women in war time.
My own life as been enriched by the war time stories of my mother who was in the Women's Army Air Corp ( a WAC) during WWII. She sang us marching ditties, showed us pictures, and told us stories. We held her dog tags and read newspaper articles saved. Her time was spent as a nurse in Oakland, California working in a hospital serving the wounded of the Pacific Theater. I am grateful for the war time experience of a woman who I also knew personally.