Between the novel I’m reading, the book I’m listening to, and the theater production I’m involved with, it feels as if I’ve been transported back in time to the 1940’s. Sometimes I fully expect to see streetcars clanging down the way, or hear Tommy Dorsey’s band playing on the radio.
It all started with Remember When, an original musical review being produced at our local community theater. I’ve been helping with all manner of things – a little marketing, a little organizing, a little accompanying. The show is a composite of actual letters written during WWII, combined with strategic music from the era. The letters are poignant, thought-provoking, and humorous. The songs are favorites of the time, such as Chattanooga Choo Choo, I’ll Be Seeing You, The White Cliffs of Dover.
My immersion in the 40’s continued when I started reading Ellen Bakers new novel, I Gave My Heart to Know This, a story about three women who meet in 1944 while working at a Wisconsin shipyard, and the turmoil that ensues in their lives when disaster strikes the men they love. The choices they make in the aftermath of these events affect not only their own lives, but the lives of their children and grandchildren into the next five decades.
Then I started listening to Lucia, Lucia, by Adriani Trigiani. Although set in the very early 1950’s, it’s close enough to make me feel as if I’m still in that time warp of traditional family values and simpler lifestyles. The beautiful young seamstress Lucia Sartori and her close-knit Italian family are the epitome of the traditional family that has come to symbolize the middle class immigrant experience in the mid 20th century. Lucia is caught between her desire to please her family and to become a success in her chosen career.
Besides their similar time period, another constant theme in all these works is the importance of family. From the soldiers on the front writing home to beloved parents and sweethearts in Remember When, to the women in Baker’s novel who struggle with the loss of loved ones, and into Trigiani’s book about the strong, loved-filled Sartori family and the bonds that hold them together through thick and thin, it is the family bond that makes life worthwhile and bearable.
A world where family loyalty and relationships are all-important and valued above everything else – that’s actually quite a nice time warp to be stuck in.
So tell me, what time period has your reading taken you into this Sunday?