This week we’re looking at a story that I could very easily have seen my own grandparents living elements of in their actual lives during WWII – it truly feels that real and that authentic. This week, we’re looking at Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio.
All Too Real. Di Maio has made a name for herself taking various historical events and wrapping a fictional story around them that stays true to the real world yet tells her own story – and this book is exactly that. Here, she tackles life in New York and specifically around the Brooklyn Navy Yard as it builds the last of the great battleships – the Missouri – and the newest generation of naval ships – the aircraft carrier. At the same time and across the Atlantic, she also tackles life as a new kind of infantry soldier – the Airborne – as they train in England after the US enters the war, attack Normandy on D-Day, survive Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge and finally the end of the war. In both places, Di Maio does a stunning job of being true and accurate (mostly) to the era, and it is very easy for many Americans to see their own parents / grandparents / (and now great grandparents) largely living exactly these types of situations. Di Maio doesn’t hold back from the various tragedies of the era, but she also doesn’t hold back in showing people who were even then “outside the norm” though revealing exactly which norms of the era were broken would delve into spoiler territory – read the book for yourself to see them. 🙂 And yet, through all of this, this is still ultimately a women’s fiction tale that could alternatively be classified (technically) as a historical romance, and indeed it really works in either genre. Very much recommended.
Beautifully Woven Complex Romance. This was the first time I’d actually read this author, despite being in similar orbits for a few years now – virtually since I first began this book blogging/ “review absolutely everything I read” adventure. But as I told her privately, when she puts a book directly in the very channel I make no secret of the fact that most of my current reading comes from (NetGalley, though technically this book was published *before* I got it)… it kinda sounds like a beacon “READ THIS BOOK, JEFF!”. 😀
And seriously, this was an absolutely beautifully woven tapestry that mixes in long family lore (with many references to her “Emerson Pass Historicals” ongoing series) along with not just one, but *three* second chance romances and a very developed town and surrounding characters. All of the characters feel fully “human” – there aint a single one of them that is wholly monstrous or wholly innocent, and that is a refreshing change of pace from so many books, even within the same genre, that have less complicated characters.
One note, just because I know it itself is a clarion call both directions for different people, is the frequent-yet-not-preachy calls to God, prayer, faith, etc. Having grown up in the Southern Baptist Church and lived my entire life in the exurban or even rural Southern United States, this is the level that people actually talk down here – not the preachiness that so many politicians or celebrities pound on, but just the honest, heart felt, “natural” level of people who genuinely believe what they say. Some of y’all are going to love that, I know other readers who will 1* a book the instant they come across that. So consider yourself prepared either way. 😉
I’ve bought many of Thompson’s books in the time that I’ve known of her, mostly on the strength of being around her and having several common friends that *rave* about her books. And now I call tell you straight up: If you’re looking for something deeper, something more complex with various threads going all over the place and making a book world feel like a true community rather than just a series of barely-joined books… you’re going to want to check out this author. And this particular book isn’t a bad place to start, despite being labeled Book 2. (Though yes, it does give several details of what – presumably – happened in Book 1.) Very much recommended.
This review of The Patron by Tess Thompson was originally written on May 25, 2021.