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November 13, 2022

The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

As the U.S. enters WWII, dangers come closer to our shores - especially for the towns along the coastline as German U-boats lurk in the waters. How does a small town deal with the blackout restrictions? Create a book club of course! In the process, four women struggling with their own troubles find friendship and support.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of World War II historical fiction novel The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green
November 2022; Bethany House; 978-0764240836
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); historical fiction

I love reading WWII stories and I'm always looking for unique stories. I've read a few stories set in the U.S. but none of them have been set in a small coastal town. Often times WWII seemed more like a European war as most of the U.S. wasn't near the frontlines. I knew about rations, and of course, all the men sent to fight, but I didn't really think about blackout restrictions and coastal patrols.

The story is told from the point-of-view of 4 women. Each has their own unique situation due to the war, which I think gives the reader a wide view of the various struggles on the homefront.'

  • Avis is a young married woman living in the small town of Derby, Maine. She strives to be the perfect wife - reading all the latest self-help articles in women's magazines. Her brother Anthony is the head librarian of a private, subscription-based library but he has enlisted and makes Avis promise to keep the library running for him. She struggles with how to balance her wifely duties with a job. At first, that doesn't appear to be a problem since her husband is enlisting too. However, things get complicated when he gets an F-4 designation at the physical (he has asthma). 
  • Louisa owns the library. Her father established it and she inherited it along with the family's summer home in Derby. She is a spinster with a secret. Similar to Avis, she holds herself to a strict code of contact. She is trying to protect herself, but it has kept her an outsider even though she has lived full-time in Derby for at least a decade, serves on various community committees, and is involved in philanthropic activities.
  • Ginny is probably the youngest of the women. Her family was forced to sell the family home on Long Island, Maine for the US Navy to install a base. All she has ever known is her family's lobster business and vows to save up enough money to buy back the family home after the war. To this, she takes a job a the foundry in Derby while the rest of the family moves to Portland, Maine. 
  • Martina is an Italian immigrant. Though she is a U.S. citizen, she is worried about racial sentiment and others being suspicious just because she's Italian. She is also trying to hide from her husband, who is often a mean drunk. She moves with her two children to Derby to take a job at the foundry.
I enjoyed all the characters. The women are interesting, but even the secondary characters are well-fleshed out and I was invested in their lives as much as I was in the lives of the four women. 

The story is told in a sort-of mixed media way. We have the standard prose, but we also get letters between Avis and her brother Anthony. Then there are the minutes from the book club - I found these to be funny not just because of observations the various 'secretaries' make, but because Louisa wants to treat the book club like the many committees she serves on. And finally, we have flashback scenes from when Louisa was a young woman during WWI. All these various methods of storytelling meld surprisingly well and give a more in-depth look into the characters.

There is some suspense but The Blackout Book Club is more of a slice-of-life type of novel. I loved seeing how the town comes together to help one another. I really loved how all are welcome to the book club including children.

There are plenty of references to classics and popular 1940s books for readers who love books about books. We get the discussion of the several books the club reads, but there are also mentions of other books - ones they are considering or recommend to each other outside of the club.

If you are a reader who doesn't read war books, but you are wanting to read WWII-era stories, then this one is definitely for you. The war is largely in the shadows with no mention of bloody battlefields.

Buy The Blackout Book Club at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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