With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Wings of the Nightingale, #1
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 432 Trade Paperback
Date Published: September 2012
Publisher: Revell Books
They know everything about each other-except their real names.
Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met-even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence-he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.
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 by their pasts?
This reader is delighted that there is a new series Wings of the Nightingale coming from Christian Historical Fiction author Sarah Sundin. I still hold that A Distant Melody might be one of my favorite books ever and with all that I read, this is a really saying something – so bringing on a new series, I couldn’t be more delighted and excited to see what I might find within the pages of such a novel and over the top, I was not disappointed. I knew, before I knew anything else, through a conversation with Sarah that this was going to be a war times You’ve Got Mail/The Shop Around the Corner story, but different and that’s exactly what it was. I’d love to see *this* one as a film!
With Every Letter did not grip me from the first page, because I found myself to be very unsure about Mellie, our heroine. However, as she learned to truly love and accept herself, I realized myself to grow to love her as well and with the type of story that this was that is a perfect reader/novel relationship. Tom our hero is a great character as well. This story is more about the people than the setting, and while it is interesting it was the content of the letters and emotions that I wanted more of and was granted within these pages.
Giving plenty of laugh-out-loud, quit-it-I’m-going-to-cry, and down right cannot turn the pages fast enough or even would someone please watch my children so that I can just go read and see what happens next— this was a read that I definitely did not want to miss and it was a completely delightful one a that. I’m not surprised to find myself loving it and as I finish the pages what I do find myself is devastated that I will have to wait so long for more Wings of the Nightingale series. Honestly, I want to know more about Kay…
That’s my review… Now on to discussion questions from the book…
It is amazing the things in our lives that shape us into the people that we are and how we react to others. For instance in the rejection that certain characters feel because they think it is there is causes us all to assume it is always there even in a new situation when it is not. It is amazing, there I go saying that again, where I can see myself in a character and it is one of those things that makes you realize that perhaps you could and should take an outside view every once in a while, because things are not always so black and white. Words are definitely powerful things, and we should always be careful of what we say, because it is always out there once you release it.
In our society where judgment is so harsh on the outliers of standards it’s hard when you want to either go full on nonchalance or shake it off. There really is no easy way out and it makes you wonder why we as a culture have allowed ourselves to get into such a rough and uncomfortable situation. I definitely see this in Mellie’s life as she is so set in her mind from before a new situation starts that she will be rejected that she just assumes people are being polite instead of truly caring for her. It makes me wonder about certain times in my own life where I might have missed out on true opportunities for friendships when I just mentally cancelled someone out. I’m not sure if I find myself subconsciously judging others based on their looks, but I assume it is there. It is so ingrained in all of us, it is nearly impossible not to. But hopefully with a faith in Christ, it will always kick start that second nature of a clean slate on what we might find in the others we interact with in life.
Thinking about the background of the character for Tom I realize I have never put much thought on such situations, as one having a notoriously negative parent. Quite often I find myself avoiding the news all together rather than reading and enduring the negative events that are sure to be there. Perhaps in my ow life I might try to add in a bit more prayer for those that are brought to our attention in that way. Coming into all situations Tom had difficulty. Either he assumed (often correctly) that people would take issue with his parentage and blocked himself off from possible connection and strength building opportunities or even in himself he tried too hard to put him to different directions. Now I feel like I’m babbling… In an odd way it reminds me of a PK, or preacher’s kid. They are often expected to be just-so and either completely rebel and break every stereotype of the perfect little minion. Or… they really do become a proper person and grow up secure in their own person. Yet often I’m told, it seems the preacher is so busy with the rest of the flock that their own child might act out in defiance. It varies, as I’ve seen many different fits (which I guess really shows that PKs are no different from anyone else…) but that is what the idea of an infamous or famous parentage reminds me of.
I think that Tom’s mother was so shocked with certain things and how they affected her that she went too far in the wrong direction. But she also confuses me. If she despised the outcome of her relationship and life with her husband and Tom’s father, then why would she refuse to change their surname? It seems to me that is exactly what she would do to distance herself from it, but then maybe that was part of her holding on to the man she knew that he really was inside even if not on the day that was recorded. How would I handle the situation? I have no idea. I’m more of a curl into a ball and cry over situations that deal with myself, while when it comes to others I can jump and fight for a cause, but never seemingly myself.
Sesame is such a loving character for our hero as his dog companion. It definitely reminds me of my Hershey Kisses, a long haired black cat with bright round yellow eyes. He was my best friend for many a years, and I’m not sure how I could or would have survived those rough years without him.
I keep trying to remember how it got started, but cannot seem to find that memory… but there were several years if not only months that I had many overseas pen pals. One of which was in the army during the beginning our War on Terror. I remember quite often the exuberance that came with each letter, and as those letters started dying off I recall emails becoming quite more often with a friend I met oddly online — who later became my Enginerd. Being able to open up on paper without the issues of physical interaction I am quite certain made a big difference in the strength of our relationship. My Enginerd and I are both shy in our own ways, but in the fact of “having to” reply with substance to our messages outside of a hello we were able to connect in a way that we probably wouldn’t have on a date or at a dinner or movie. We got to know each other’s souls before ever needing to deal with the shy factor, and that made it *almost* obsolete.
It is interesting to me to think about Mellie’s friendships later in life, because I was one that had many friends early on, but later in life after moves and situations feel like it is near impossible to really get to know someone as they all seem to have their set friends and no need for any others. But then perhaps I am acting like Tom and Mellie again, in assumptions that close doors that are earnestly wide open waiting to be used.
Looking at the last discussion question (I’ve touched some of them here, but not all) I am delighted to see that the next bits in the series will include Georgie and Hutch and then Kay and Coop. Oh, now I’m giddy. Looking back I can see bits and sparks and I thought that perhaps… Ward was dwindling…. What do expect from what I have seen of these characters? I’m not quite certain. But I think that Georgie and Hutch will have some ropes and hoops to jump and perhaps Kay and Coop will have some emotional and sterotypical ones to transverse as well. I’m eager to see!
*Thanks to Revell Books for providing a copy for review through Litfuse Publicity.*
Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.