Sarah Sundin was my favorite new author of 2010, and I eagerly awaited her new Wings of the Nightingale series. I pre-ordered the first book, With Every Letter, and was surprised and happy when it arrived a month before it was due!
In this book, Philomela “Mellie” Blake is a flight nurse during WWII. Her exceptional shyness is exacerbated by her unconventional (for that time) heritage and looks, making it extremely hard for her to find friends. When a morale-building program of writing anonymously to soldiers begins, she participates, at first because her supervisor wants her to, but later because of the freedom anonymity gives her.
Her corresponding soldier is a Lt. Tom MacGilliver, and anonymity appeals to him, too, because his name has been a burden to him most of his life: his father was a famous killer, and people are wary of him. He can’t let down and be real with anyone…except Mellie.
As friendship begins to blossom into something more, they both wonder whether breaking their anonymity would destroy the relationship they are building.
Though this is a romance, it isn’t just a romance. Susan has a way of integrating a lot of detail and research about the era, locale, planes, etc., without making it seem encyclopedic or dry. Her details enhance the story. But ultimately, the highlight of the story is what the characters have to learn spiritually: the willingness to open oneself up to being known and the risk of rejection and betrayal, the realization of their own faults and shortcomings, not letting those faults keep them wallowing in the mire but letting them drive them to seek God’s mercy and grace and allowing them to work compassion for others into their hearts, and the need for forgiveness.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next in the series.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)