Lieutenant Philomela “Mellie” Blake is a part of the first crew of flight nurses to be sent overseas during World War II. Growing up travelling the world with her botanist father, Mellie has not lived a life that is conducive to making friends and being part of a group. Nurses are expected to not only assist with medical care but to be perky and friendly to the soldiers they serve and also with the other nurses. Those in charge wonder if Mellie will be able to accomplish both of these tasks.
Lieutenant Tom MacGilliver is an officer in an engineering battalion stationed in North Africa, and he has spent his entire life trying to outrun his infamous name. When an opportunity comes to anonymously exchange letters with a woman in the nursing division, Tom thinks it will finally be a chance to just be himself.
As Tom and Mellie exchange letters and as they wage battles both inside and out, a unique friendship forms. When they get the chance to meet face-to-face, will they be able to set aside the fears of their past in order to welcome the possibility of a wonderful future?
World War II is not my favorite historical fiction setting, but I really liked Sarah Sundin’s “Wings of Glory” series, and so I wanted to give this new series, “Wings of the Nightingale” a try.
For starters, the whole concept of the army using flight nurses during WWII was just fascinating. Throughout the story I could feel the struggles these women faced to be taken seriously and to prove that they could carry out their missions with strength and excellence.
I also liked the concept of a romance blooming through the writing of letters – and anonymous ones at that. I felt as if I really got to know and care about both Mellie and Tom because I was able to see how they acted and thought around others and also through the things they revealed in their correspondence. The whole flow of the novel was extremely smooth, and the characters were very well-written, even the secondary ones. I look forward to seeing them return in the next novels in the series.
One thing that was especially striking about Mellie was how she desired to use her gift of mercy. She recognized this gift as being given by God, and she used it in ways besides just her nursing care – things that I hadn’t really thought of before.
The spiritual aspect of this novel was seamlessly woven throughout the story. Tom and Mellie both expressed their faith in God to each other and to others around them, but they did not come across as fake or as being judgmental. It was just who they were. Even though they had this faith in God, they weren’t perfect, and they grew tremendously throughout the story.
If you are more of a history buff than I am, then this book is for you. I tend to get bogged down in the details of maps and battles and the like, and also war-setting stories tend to have a lot of characters to keep straight. I enjoyed the time and setting overall. I just didn’t always think too much on the details. The details that were there, though, gave the story depth and made it historically rich.
I also thought that this novel was a bit long. I’m not sure if the story just took a little too long to get started or if it got long towards the end when I wanted Tom and Mellie to meet, but somewhere along the way it did drag somewhat. I think I also got impatient with Mellie towards the end since she was so extremely insecure.
With Every Letter is a wonderful beginning to what I’m sure will be a great series by WWII-era author Sarah Sundin.
I will give With Every Letter ... 4 BookWorms.