Author's Website, here
What led you to pick up this book? I was asked to review some books for a June blog tour and Mrs. Lieutenant was one that I requested.
Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Four women from diverse backgrounds, each with a husband attending 6 weeks of officers' training school (Armor Officer Basic) at Fort Knox, Kentucky in the year 1970 must adjust to being the wives of officers who may end up serving in Vietnam. As they deal with their conflicting emotions, they also become a part of the community of officers' wives and learn to overcome their prejudices.
What did you like most about the book? I loved the fact that it's emotionally involving, sometimes intensely emotional. Three of the women were totally new to army life and one was an army brat; but, regardless of their backgrounds and histories, they all had to contend with the fear that their husbands might end up in Vietnam and they could become widows. They all each had their own concerns about fitting in and different issues to deal with on the home front. One had a pathologically jealous husband and lived in constant fear that her husband would blow up if she even said a word to another man. Sharon, the main character, was a Jew raised in Chicago. She was quite fearful that she'd be an outcast in the South.
What did you think of the characters? I liked them, although at times I found some of their worries baffling. There was a little bit of a forced attribute to the book -- the fact that there was a Jew, a black, a Puerto Rican and an uneducated Southerner in that little group of friends made it seem almost staged. And, yet, from my limited experience around military folks, I've found that there tends to be a fairly representative cross-section of backgrounds and races in the armed forces. In the 1970's, the friendship between such a diverse group of young women probably would have turned heads and that's the major point. Would it be possible for those four women, each raised with their own fears and prejudices, to forge a deep friendship?
Share a favorite scene from the book: Donna's flashback scene was the most moving and meaningful scene, for me. It was the first time I had to trudge off to get the tissues and set the book aside. The fact that it moved me to tears made it a favorite, though. I liked being emotionally involved with the characters. It would give too much away to say anything beyond the fact that Donna had suffered a horrible loss. But, I can say that all 4 women -- Sharon, Donna, Wendy and Kim -- spent the 6 weeks of officer training adjusting but also occasionally coming unglued from the fear of what might lie ahead. Donna's story moved me the most, but there were at least 5 times I had to close the book to wipe my eyes.
In general: There's nothing lyrical or beautiful about the writing in Mrs. Lieutenant, no flowery language, no lovely scenery. In fact, I'd describe the writing as pedestrian -- with almost a Hemingway-like abruptness to dialogue and prose. There are some grammatical errors and a few tense problems. But, it's a quick read and I didn't feel pulled away from the storyline by the writing style. It didn't stop me from caring about the characters or shedding tears when they were distraught.
If I was going to complain about anything at all, it would be the fact that the author didn't seem to have a depth of understanding about Southerners; vernacular should be avoided if you don't know the language. Beyond that, the book is about overcoming prejudices and misconceptions, dealing with the fear of what may come, learning a completely new way of life and banding together. That's what's important and I think the author did a pretty fine job of describing what it's like to be a military wife, thrown into a totally new place with no acquaintances while facing the terror of potentially saying goodbye to a husband.
Almost finished with: Sway by Ori and Rom Brafman
Later on: Babble about the weirdness of my weekend and the tree that sounds like it's going to take off