Wednesday Writers’ guest today is author Gail Kittleson. Gail writes women’s historical fiction and will be highlighting her book In Times Like These, a story of spousal abuse during World War II, on today’s blog. Welcome back, Gail.
Words and War
The Iowa countryside makes a perfect setting for Addie Bledsoe’s story. At the beginning, fierce winter storms coat the farmstead with ice, just as bitterness envelops her volatile husband Harold. Furious with the draft board for refusing to allow him to join the fight, he takes his rage out on Addie. The terror that stokes worldwide battles has a local name, and that name is Harold.
But gradually, spring thaws the frozen plains, igniting dreams of brighter days ahead. There’s nothing like bitter cold transforming into warming winds, nothing like seeing that first robin and being able to get one’s hands into the soil again.
Like spring, letters from Addie’s friend Kate in London help her navigate the long winter, and Jane, her gardening friend just down the gravel road, cheers her, too. When Harold’s father dies, no one is more surprised than Addie to witness her mother-in-law emerge from grief with a taste for joy.
Summer brings heartfelt relief, since Harold is so preoccupied with the crops and livestock. But thunderclouds envelop the farm from time to time, even felling an old maple in the yard. Addie is never free from her husband’s brooding nature, and when he lashes out, she unwittingly reinforces his behavior by believing his accusations. Surely, there must be a way she can change to make him happy.
Like George the mailman’s deliveries of Kate’s letters, autumn provides relief from summer’s heat and humidity, and a sudden surprise lightens Addie’s load. Their pastor becomes an army chaplain, and with so many joining up, the local church calls Harold, a self-made theologian and debate champion, to fill in. Then an unparalleled opportunity arises for him to receive seminary training from December through March. Imagine Addie’s relief at this unexpected reprieve!
But as harsh winds funnel east from the Dakotas, Kate’s RAF pilot husband goes missing in action. Within weeks, Kate’s situation turns from fearsome to sorrowful to desperate.
Like the solid, fertile land under her feet, Addie’s growing friendships with her mother-in-law and Jane nurture her faith. Even caregiving a dying World War I veteran (a task Harold foists upon her) reveals a silver lining.
The land, the seasons, and the war’s effect on quiet Iowa farm families . . . blending these together challenged me. I’m not sure I was always aware of the interplay of military battles and Addie’s ever-heightening tension. But I do love metaphors, and it’s so satisfying to see how this one works.
In Times Like These
By Gail Kittleson
Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.
But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.
When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.
Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?
Want to read more? Here’s the Buy link
This extraordinary story classically captures the mindset of the 1940’s. Addie and her friend Kate reflect the voices women hear as they face confusing dilemmas almost seventy-five years later—my first read kept me up into the wee hours. I will refer my readers to In Times Like These! Patricia Evans, Author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Controlling People and other books listed at www.VerbalAbuse.com
About the Author:
Gail Kittleson lives in Northern Iowa with her husband of 38 years. In winter, Arizona’s Ponderosa pine forest provides another setting for her historical women’s fiction. She instructs creative writing classes and facilitates women’s workshops on spirituality, creativity, and memoir/fiction writing.