On the Homefront

Written by Barb Warner Deane
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

Though many novels have been written about the exploits of the American military in World War II, few provide an intimate picture of those left behind: the mothers, lovers, wives, and brothers of soldiers serving in all the realms of war. From France to Africa, these relatives waited at home, trying to carry on as best they could, ever fearful the dreaded letter would arrive one day, announcing the death of their boy or man. This novel provides such an intimate picture, told through the viewpoints of the women. Characters Lilly, Ruth, and Helen each have a story that unfolds surrounding the war; each fights the enemy in all the ways women did on the home shores. They worked in factories, raised their children, suffered food shortages, used ration coupons, darned socks and mended holes in blankets. We see the choices each woman had to make at home, and the author shows their courage: they face rape, an unwanted pregnancy, the loss of a husband, and the decision to join the forces overseas as an ambulance driver in France.

The story is lovingly told using the jargon and expressions of the times. The author provides a heartfelt picture of the way each life was affected by the war. The novel also embeds historical references to customs and culture so that the reader learns about the times and values from the era. The author is a fan of genealogy—that is evident through the meticulous research she gathered in presenting the simple, yet complex lives of women in the face of war.