The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

French Letters: Virginia's War: Tierra, Texas 1944

  French Letters Book One: Virginia's War, a novel by Jack Woodville London.  Austin:  Vire Press, 2009. paperback, 234 pages. ISBN-13: 9780981597508.  $13.99. Also available as a e-book.


She's pregnant as the book opens, but you wouldn't know it.  Jack Woodville London embarks successfully on his projected trilogy exploring some delicate domestic affairs.   He weaves narrative with correspondence with news flashes - revealing the difficult times of Virginia, the young woman who finds herself with child and unmarried amidst World War II in a small Texas town, Tierra, nearer Lubbock than Austin, where such things are denied, lied, covered-up, and gossiped.  Will, the young army doctor and father, is off to war in England and ignorant of his actions and responsibilities.

The emotional action in the novel builds through a series of deceptions.  Obviously the pretend marriage is there.  Virginia dawdles over telling Will.  A local "official" story (a surprise to the pregnant Virginia) to save community integrity is that they had eloped earlier.  Such a protective story is partially animated by another level of deception, her father's high status and a key in the local black market and war rationing.  Of course, Virginia's brother can a jerk.

As a work, poignant without the syrup, patriotic yet glancing under the table, the novel is less a romance, more historical and social commentary.  If you've been advantaged to have lived in a small town, you'll the little hallmarks, the kindnesses, the grudges, and the lack of a good place to hide your private French letters.  London has hidden his under Vire's covers, but I'll tell you where to look for them.  He'll likely leave bread crumbs to the next installments.

French Letters was a finalist for 2 awards: Best Historical Fiction of the Year, By The Military Writer's Society of America & The William C. Morris Award, for Best Southern Fiction in 2009.

A blog provides some occasional background on the author and the volume at

A video interview of author London is at

Also check Danielle Hartman's Youtube Channel for London readings at



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