Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?
Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.
Since I enjoyed Sarah Sundin’s novels about WWII pilots (See reviews linked below) I was eager to read the first book in her new series, one titled “Wings of the Nightengale” about WWII flight nurses. Since this tour has started, I've read a lot of very good reviews of this book; unfortunately, I was disappointed in this one and did not finish it.
The female lead is Philomella. She grew up without her mother and never learned to make friends. She has a scrapbook of photos from magazines of kids playing games and she used to imagine herself joining them. Then she switched to cutting pictures out of the newspapers--pictures of people she believed needed her prayers. One was the son of an infamous murderer, one who was so infamous (he killed a famous husband and wife) that children made up rhymes about him --McGilliver the killiver… and even now, at least ten years later, everyone recognized the name. She prayed for the son who lost his father, the poor boy who would forever be an outcast because of his father’s crime. As an Army nurse, this scrapbook is one of the possessions she carries with her as she goes from her training as one of the first flight nurses to her wartime assignment in northern Africa. While I am not an expert on WWII or nursing, assuming Sudin got the details right, the parts of the book about flight nursing were the best.
The male lead is Jack McGilliver. He is a lieutenant in the US Army, and an engineer who dreams of one day designing bridges. As an engineer, he is an officer and expected to lead a squad of men. Unfortunately, due to his name he has cultivated a “nice guy” personality--friendly, affable, inoffensive. He doesn’t have any real friends but everyone likes him. He doesn’t want to be mean or physically threatening. His men lack discipline and don’t obey him.
Her commanding officer is married to his commanding officer and Mrs. gets the idea that having her nurses write anonymous letters to his men would be a morale boost. He ends up with her letter and they being a regular anonymous correspondence. Each speaks of his or her weaknesses to the other. They encourage each other--she tells him to look to Jesus as a model of leadership. One day they meet but he doesn’t know it is her. Each is utterly lacking in self-confidence, sure the other wouldn’t want him/her if she/her knew who he/she really was. I found the whole book, or at least the 250 pages I read (it is over 400 pages long) to be overwrought and melodramatic. I neither liked nor cared about either of them by the time I decided that enough was enough.
My Reviews of other Sarah Sundin novels: