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Reviewed by Heather Stockard for Readers' Favorite
Elmer and Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters is a touching collection of the correspondence of John Odell’s parents. They wrote the letters between 1939 and 1944, during which time they were separated by education and then the war. Elmer and Virginia’s letters are by turns funny, touching, and exciting. They reflect both the realities of everyday life in the 1940s and the turmoil and tragedy of WWII. Reading them is like stepping back in time.
Elmer and Virginia wrote as friends at first. Virginia was involved with someone else. Over the course of their correspondence, they quietly fell in love. They became engaged and were married before Elmer was shipped overseas as a fighter pilot. His experiences are fascinating to read about, and his letters are filled with surprisingly frank descriptions of the perils he and his fellow pilots faced. Elmer and Virginia let their personalities shine through their letters: their humor, fears, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. Readers are left feeling as though they knew these people and perhaps even relate to them.
John Odell did a wonderful job organizing the letters and scattering historical details to let readers know what was going on in history as Elmer and Virginia were writing to each other. Odell is a talented writer himself, as his introduction and asides show, but he wisely lets the letters speak for themselves most of the time. History buffs, especially those who specialize in WWII, will find Elmer and Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters a fascinating and touching read.