They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the case of Ann Howard Creel’s novel, WHILE YOU WERE MINE (Lake Union Publishing), a picture turns out to be worth an entire novel. We’ve posted the photo that inspired her book above. It’s the iconic shot of a World War II–era sailor kissing a nurse in a back-bending swoon. Taken in Times Square, by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, to this day, people still don’t agree who the couple is. The majority think they’re Rhode Island sailor, George Mendonsa and dental assistant, Greta Zimmer, but there’s no consensus.
So with that mystery lingering, author Ann Howard Creel, creates her version of the unknown nurse’s story in her novel, WHILE YOU WERE MINE. Who was she? How did she end up in Times Square? Where did she go after that kiss? No one knows. It was exactly this not-knowing that inspired Creel to create Gwen, a young nurse making her way in New York City during World War II—a time when people made extraordinary sacrifices, and whirlwind romances often led to hasty marriages with profound repercussions and what happened to Gwen was nothing short of a drama worthy of a novel.
Twenty-five year-old, Gwen was single and enjoying the time of her life working as a nurse and dating in New York City, far from the farm she grew up on in Colorado. She had a lovely apartment with a roommate who had an infant with a MIA soldier husband. But everything seemed perfect until it wasn’t.
Soon after the excitement of the end of the war and the kiss, Gwen’s roommate, Alice said she was leaving and not taking her six-week old, Mary with her. Once the shock settled in and Alice was gone, Gwen realizes, she’s become a “mother.” Gwen handles single-parenthood with grace and courage and luckily, Mary’s regular babysitter, Lisen lives upstairs. But for the most part Gwen is on her own.
Seven months later, after Gwen has nursed Mary through strep-throats, fevers, nightmares, while juggling her career as a nurse, Mary’s father John shows up. He’s not MIA or dead, but very much alive, and shocked his wife, Alice has left and that he has a daughter. His initial reaction is to take Mary away from Gwen, the only woman Mary has known as her mother, but then things get really complicated.
Creel weaves a interesting multi-layered, narrative including relationships, heartbreak and trust. She uses alternating perspectives between Gwen and John, which worked well for me while reading. The cover is beautifully designed. Lake Union design is doing nice work for their authors. I enjoyed how Creel described the NYC landscape in the 1940’s. I could see, smell and hear the taxis, people and the rain falling in the evenings. But I felt the novel was somewhat over-written, perhaps twenty-ish or so pages. It seemed to be repetitive and it dragged towards the end. I believe a more focused ending would have been more satisfying. The copy editor should have caught that.
WHILE YOU WERE MINE will be published April 1st. Thanks to Amazon for providing a kindle copy for an honest review. Creel has another novel with the working title, “The Whiskey Sea” scheduled to be published later this year. What a busy lady!
You can contact Ann Howard Creel on Twitter, Facebook and on her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com
SPRING IS COMING UP THIS SUNDAY AND WE’RE DOING A BIG GIVEAWAY – many of the books I’ve reviewed. All you need to do, is tell us what YOU love about spring. Just leave your thoughts in the comment section of our BLOG! REMEMBER, you have to write your comment on the blog (not facebook or BluePointPress). Just hit this right here: http://www.writeoncindy.wordpress.com and then write a comment in the comment box!
We’re picking two winners for TWO big box giveaways THIS SUNDAY – MARCH 20th – THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!