Friday, August 14, 2009
This week's walk down memory lane comes courtesy of my daughter. She and I were having a great discussion on the phone last night while she waited in a bar for a friend. She was laughing at my blog post about the Blackberry (which she had read on her BB) and then the chat turned to books. Babygirl is an exceptionally well-read daughter, but tends to read mostly non-fiction, and indicated that she was looking forward to her vacation later this month so she could get some serious reading done. She said was thinking of re-reading Winds of War, and some of Herman Wouk's other work. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Winds of War, and War and Rememberance. Wouk's ability to give us a history lesson at the same time we get romance, and a great view of the social and cultural mores of the era is the strong point of his historical fiction. The books trace the fortunes (or misfortunes) of a military family living in Pearl Harbor when the war breaks out, their moves to DC and to Europe, and give us a personal run-in with Nazi anti-semitism. The history is pretty close to reality, the relationships are intense and well-portrayed and although we may know how the war turned out, we are still on the edge of our seats waiting to see how things turn out for the main players. I confess that I read some of the reviews before I did this post to be sure my memories were not too warped. Several reviewers appear to be dismayed by what they see as Wouk's sexism, and how he portrayed women. My daughter and I had talked about the reality of his portrayal in that this is how life was. I don't think the author was trying to endorse or legitimize a belittling of women, nor was he trying to paint them as ditzy, witless, and unable to do anything serious. He simply writes about the role of women, particularly the wives of military officers during the period, with a clarity and acuity that gives us a true picture of what those families endured, and how they coped with the anxieties and challenges of living through a major global conflict. If you haven't had a good summer read, these are certainly worth digging out (I"ll bet there's a copy at a relative's house) or checking out of your local library. Thanks to Lisa for jogging my memory bank.