Diana Milne reviews Twilight of Memory by Julia Faye Smith. The author has offered a reader's choice of ebook or paper copy as a giveaway to one lucky winner. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous novel, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. The winner will be drawn on 2nd August 2016. Good luck!
At twenty-two Henry Townsend had the world in his hands; his cherished Lilly by his side; a bright future planned in his beloved valley home. Life promised him happiness. America’s entrance into WWII turned that promise to dust. Desperately, Henry sought to find a way to serve his country while remaining by Lilly’s side. On the night he found his solution, Lilly disappeared. Months later only one thing promised a shattered Henry survival… a band of brothers: skiers and outdoor enthusiasts like himself. Together they formed the 10th Mountain Division. America's Ski Troops of the U.S. Army. Together they trained for war, made their way to Italy, and fought desperately against the Germans. The same war that shattered Henry’s dreams, now threatened to shatter Henry’s life. Could this same war, somehow save him? Could the peace he had known in his Colorado valley be found in a war-torn valley in Italy? Could salvation be found in the arms of a war-scarred nurse? Twilight of Memory explores the power of memory and love: to hurt, to haunt, and possibly to heal. Get to know Henry, Lilly, Daisy, and the 10th Mountain Ski Troops in this gentle historical fiction love story.
|Henry and fellow members of the 10th Alpine division trained here. Henry helped build the camp. Soldiers training at Camp Hale Photo: Aspen Historical Society|
It was a genuine pleasure to read this exceptionally well researched book. It is told from the points of view of both American Henry and Japanese American Lilly and encompasses their lives during World War Two, the lives of their extended families and the Italian and English families that Henry gets to know and love. The book could comfortably fit into several genres; historical fiction, war, romance, maybe others and would appeal to anyone who enjoys a good story well told.
The book encompasses many fascinating and little known aspects of WW2 and I learnt a lot without feeling I was being taught. Contemporary news items add immensely to the scene, as do the vivid, but not tedious, descriptions of places. I could actually see the vibrant pots of geraniums so well were they described.
I found the way that the training of the men for the Alpine Division was exceptionally well written coming in the form of a series of letters, which made a subject that could have been quite tedious to some, flow and become fascinating with ‘Henry’s’ chatty missives. The letter he writes to his best mate and new brother-in-law Walt is fascinating and full of detail about the appallingly horrific conditions endured on the first manoeuvre.
|General George Hayes, Commander of the Alpine Division.|
Dialogue flows easily and naturally...
Henry jumped in, trying to think and answer at the same time. “Well, no, not construction exactly. Just helping to keep the buildings in good repair on our farm. I can swing a hammer and hit the nail as well as most, I guess.”
“Drafting? Engineering?” Donny asked.
“Okay, kid, what do you do in your spare time? We need hands here but you gotta help me out.”
“Well, I work the orchards, ride the trails on the western slope, ski, hike, backpack, camp out, fish, white water rafting,” he paused to think and Donny jumped in.
“Okay, I got it.” He turned to a man at a table in the back. “ Say, Sam, don’t you still need help laying some trails?”
I don’t think I am giving too much of a spoiler here when I mention that at some point during the story Henry’s father dies. The letter written by his sister is so very moving that I felt tears prickling the back of my eyes.
The author has thoughtfully put a section at the end covering the factual aspects of the story. More information about General George Hays, commander of the Mountain Division, can be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Price_Hays
Ms Smith is a born story teller with an amazing grasp of history and human emotion. I look forward to reading more of her work.
About the Author
Julia Faye Dockery Smith, a native of Alabama, now resides in Tallahassee, FL with her husband of 50 years. She is the proud mother of three and grandmother of five. In her retirement she enjoys reading, reviewing, supporting other authors, and of course, writing. She also enjoys research and spent many months enthusiastically researching and ‘getting to know’ the 10th Division. When doing none of the above, she loves travel. She is the author of children's books and a childhood biography of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson. She is now revising her latest project, a biography of Ann Cole Lowe, the granddaughter of a slave who became society's darling designer.
Twilight of memory is available from Amazon.com in the US and Amazon.co.uk the UK.
About the reviewer:
Diana Milne is an avid amateur historian, future best-selling author and is better known as ‘d.arcadian, letterpress seller extraordinaire.’