Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin
In this work of historical fiction, three stories by three separate authors are intertwined. Each follows a member of the Turner family from Lafayette, Indiana as they face challenges during World War II. The three stories are bookended with a prologue (set during Christmas 1941) and afterwards (set during Christmas 1945) narrated through the Turner matriarch, Louise Turner, grandmother to the stories’ Turner leads. At the end of the novel are recipes for four types of cookies mentioned throughout the book.
White Christmas by Cara Putman
Putman penned the first story set in the fall and winter of 1942. Abigail Turner is a college student at Purdue who works two part-time jobs, one at the college’s nursery school and the other at Glatz Candy. One day on her way to work she has a chance encounter with Jackson Lucas. Both have burdens. Abigail lost her first love at Pearl Harbor and feels that she should not get close to anyone. Jackson is working hard to send money home to save his family’s farm, but despite sending the money the bank plans to foreclose, claiming never to have received the funds. When they met, Abigail could see he was burdened. When she found out his issue was a legal one she offered her lawyer father’s assistance. While looking for answers, will they overcome their issues?
This story addressed life on the home front. Abigail struggles with loss like so many others who lost loved ones in the war. Besides the financial issues, Jackson feels he should be doing more for the war but his disability prevents it. It also showed how a household struggled with rationing, a theme that continued into Sundin’s story.
I’ll be Home for Christmas by Sarah Sundin
Somewhat reminiscent of Sundin’s third novel (Blue Skies Tomorrow), this story set during December, 1943, follows Pete Turner. A known bully as a boy, Pete reformed himself and became a lawyer. When the war began, he entered the Army Air Forces and trained to be a pilot. After completing his 200 hours of combat duty, he was given furlough at home. One day when shopping, he encounters Linnie Kessler. The six-year-old had wandered away from her baby sitter and he befriends her and helps her home. Upon Linnie’s return to her frantic mother, Pete realizes Linnie’s widowed mother is his childhood friend Scooter’s younger sister whom he once bullied without mercy. Grace remembers him with fear, but sees his act of kindness for Linnie as showing he has changed. When Grace cannot find a new babysitter, until January Pete offers to fill in. Will they see how much each other has truly changed and will it cause love to blossom?
This story, while also set on the home front, addresses the struggles one has returning home from war. At first, Pete feels that he is empty and unfeeling because the war drained away his soul. He is also trying to repress the memory of friends and colleagues who died tragic deaths and the memory of taking down five enemy planes over the European sky. Grace struggles as a war widow to provide for her daughter and fears falling in love with another pilot.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer
Goyer’s story is the only one set abroad. After completing her nursing and Army Nurse Corps training, the youngest Turner, Meredith, has found herself posted to Europe. She mourns for her lost love, from whom she was separated by the war, while ensuring her patients have the best possible care. David, her former beau, also mourns for his lost love but realizes the choice he made caused that. But one day there paths collide in an unexpected way. What will happen?
This story is more heartbreaking than heartwarming, until the end. It addresses the choices one made to best serve the war effort in an unexpected way and how losing a loved one, even when it is not to death, can have lasting effects. This story reminded me of another book I plan to post a review on someday soon, The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes.
I absolutely loved the first two stories. They continuously made me smile. The last was more somber. The cast of characters were memorable and the historical details were well incorporated in all three. I also liked how the stories were titled from Christmas songs and that the songs picked had a strong influence within the story. You’ll have to read the stories to find out why.
I know this is my second book review for a historical fiction novel that is also a work of inspirational fiction. Sarah Sundin is one of my favorite authors and I could not pass up the chance for a review copy. Her Wings of Glory trilogy follows the war-aged men of the Novack family, all B-17 pilots, and their struggles and triumphs during the European air war (the first book, A Distant Melody is my favorite). Those are highly recommend for their storyline and attention to historic detail on the air war, pilot’s downtime, and the planes. I’m still working on finding time to fit in her latest trilogy, the Wings of the Nightingale, which follows several nurses in the Mediterranean Theater. I will offer the disclaimer for those who are interested in the book but are not the greatest fans of inspirational fiction. This one is much more open on the aspects of Christianity than Thief of Glory ever was. Still, while there are points it can seem a bit preachy, the stories resonate with the reason for the season. That said, I think the heartwarming end and some of the historic details and related struggles would make this a good read for anyone interested in World War II historical fiction. I have yet to read another title by Putnam or Goyer, but I do have a copy of another of Putnam’s works in my way-too-full reading docket.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.