Author: Cara Langston
Genre: historical fiction
Published: June 3 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
In December 1941, Charlotte Donahue is engaged to Nick Adler, a handsome, pre-law student at Georgetown University. Despite her studies at a liberal arts college, she expects nothing more than to marry her fiancé and settle into a conventional life as a young American homemaker. But her future is unexpectedly disrupted after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. While Nick trains for the battlefront with the U.S. Army, Charlotte does her part by volunteering as a nurses’ aide with the American Red Cross.
Assigned to a convalescent ward at Walter Reed’s Army Medical Center, Charlotte discovers her passion lies, not in the home, but in tending to the wounds of injured soldiers, all of whom remind her of Nick. Here she is drawn to a mysterious soldier, Lieutenant William Kendrick, whose jet was shot down in the skies over Germany. As Will’s physical and psychological wounds begin to heal, he and Charlotte develop a friendship that will bind them together in ways they never imagined.
Battle Hymns is a poignant story of love, survival, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Second World War.
Cara Langston's Battle Hymns is a rather short novel but it is one that packs a punch. The romance angle is central to the plot and characters, but Langston's novel is engaging, understated, and a quick read for historical fiction fans. The cast of characters boasts a few particular gems, and while some plotlines were more dynamic than others, I found this WWII-era story to be an altogether enjoyable read.
Focusing on love and the fallout from war, a lot of the stories in Battle Hymns run the gamut of emotions. Certain characters and storylines will resonate more (as they did with me), but Langston does a good job of creating three-dimensional people to populate the story. Charlotte is clearly the standout of everyone, and reading her life makes for a fascinating and believable trip back in time. She's clever and generous, smart and independent. She makes it easy to invest in her as a character, due to sheer charisma.
The time period of WWII is always a lure for historical fiction, and Langston uses the popular setting well. The war influences the daily lives of everyone involved, and Langston doesn't glorify the conflict. PTSD, depression --- all are seen as repercussions for the people involved. The story can veer into slightly predictable territory, but Cara Langston's Battle Hymns is detailed, researched, and heartfelt.