I’ll Be Seeing You
During World War II, 4-H Clubs would extend their programs to help lonely soldiers’ wives with a pen-pal scheme. Glory Whitehall and Rita Vincenzo meet each other this way, and their correspondence is the basis for this novel. Glory is a young wife and mother, the witty Rita much older, yet they have an instant connection, and while their respective husbands and Rita’s son are away serving overseas, the two women quickly form a close bond. They reveal their secrets and emotional hurdles to one another as well as share the inevitable anxieties caused by war and long separation from their menfolk. Glory’s indecisive love life is kept in check by Rita’s maturity and wisdom, and it is Glory’s bubbly optimism that pulls Rita out of her own misery and despair when no one else can.
As historical authenticity goes, whether women in that far more reticent and conservative era really would have exchanged such intimate personal details of their marriages with strangers is debatable. But belief really doesn’t matter, as the charm and chat in the letters soon hook you in, and you’re more than happy to go with the flow and eager to find out what happens to everyone.
The background is well-researched, and the inclusion of war-time recipes is a delightful extra feature. The ending might be predictable, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s just a pity the book’s title is so well-worn. The famous song aside, there have been several other romantic and historical novels with this name, some also about World War II, which could lead to confusion among readers and librarians. A bit of originality as in other successful epistolary novels, e.g. 84 Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, could have given it a more distinctive punch.