GUEST reviewer and Army spouse Louise McCleery, from Brunsumm, shares her thoughts of The Very White of Love by SC Worrell, a powerful story of love and war based on the author’s own family history…
When my husband last deployed we spoke every day by Skype; it felt like the miles apart were few. However, I still recall the early days of our relationship when the crinkly ‘bluey’ falling through the letterbox gave me shivers of anticipation.
And so Worrell’s debut novel, inspired by letters he finds when his mother died, opens the window on a love affair during World War II, when letters were the only means of communication. The fact that these letters were real gives the story the sentiment we all understand as military partners. For, although we can communicate with deployed partners like never before, there is a certain absence of the thoughtfulness given to a letter.
Both Nancy and Martin’s letters speak of the good times they had, anticipation of their life when he returns and sharing dreams of their life together. Scattered amongst the mundanity of daily life, there is an urgency to describe their surroundings so the other can picture it, as well as writing about their love which only the flow of a pen can allow without inhibitions. The years might be different but Nancy’s nervousness at seeing Martin for his first R&R was something I recognised, not to mention the very hard goodbye when it ended. Their leave together was not long enough, especially when the next declaration of love and reassurance was by letter in wartime.
The backdrop of the story navigates the difficulties of relationships in this period of history, the constraints of ‘proper’ behaviour, judgements about social standing and class, as well as the sense of duty over all else. Some, however, we will all recognise; Martin’s use of military abbreviations after his first training – and teasing Nancy because she doesn’t understand what they mean – as well as his complaints of ineffective leadership from the chain of command.
This is a love story which needed to be told and is a necessary reminder of sacrifice. It is a very real story and we are not spared the realities of war. Lives change forever when a soldier falls in love and this story is no different.
The Very White of Love, published by Harper Collins, is available in hardback £14.99, eBook £6.99 or audio £11.99.