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March 31, 2024

Two Books about Strong Women During World War II

by Susan Roberts

Women helped the war effort in many diverse ways.  Whether they stayed at home or worked in a factory, they did their part to help.  Today I have two books that show women who had very different roles even though they were both dangerous and needed.  The Foxhole Victory Tour is about a young woman who performed on a USO tour that travelled almost to the front lines.  The Woman with no Name is about an older woman who became part of the resistance in France after being trained in England.   They were both put into dangerous situations and found out that they were much stronger and braver than they had ever believed.

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The Foxhole Victory Tour by Amy Lynn Green

book cover of historical fiction novel The Foxhole Victory Tour by Amy Lynn Green
January 2024; Bethany House; 978-0764239571
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); historical fiction

Based on true World War II stories of life in the USO variety shows, worlds collide when performers from around the United States come together to tour North Africa.

I've seen films about Bob Hope and other popular Hollywood people who joined USO tours during World War II to entertain the soldiers overseas.  They usually had great accommodations and didn't get too close to the front lines of the war.  The Foxhole Victory Tour is about an eclectic group of performers who join a USO tour.  They often sleep on the ground or in their truck and they performed for the soldiers who were close to the front lines of the fighting and were often put into dangerous circumstances' as they worked to bring some joy into the daily strains of the war.

This tour in North Africa is made up of a rag-tag group.  Maggie was a trumpet player who was never afraid to express her opinions even if it got her into trouble. Her father was a minister in the Salvation Army and she grew up in a very restrictive home.   Catherine is totally opposite and grew up in a rich and sheltered family.  She was quiet and only seemed to come alive when she was playing her violin.  She didn't tell her parents that she was going on a USO tour until after she was gone because she knew that they would prevent her from going.  There is also Gabriel, a magician who appears very secretive, Howard, a vaudeville performer and WWI vet, and Judith, an older blues singer who is looking for her break in Hollywood.  They started out as strangers but became friends as their troupe of performers went further into the war area and their lives were put into danger.

I really enjoyed this book.  The characters were all well written and it was easy to get involved in their lives as they entertained the troops and as they got shot at by German planes.  When they started their trip, they didn't really understand the danger that they would be in and the fact that by the end of the tour, they would all end up as friends.  It was apparent throughout the book that the author had done extensive research on the smaller USO tour groups who put their lives on the line to entertain the soldiers.

Amy Lynn Green is a new author to me and after reading this book, I checked out her previous books.  It appears that she has written several World War II books that have high ratings on Goodreads.  I've already ordered one of the books on her backlist.

Note:  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book to find out more about the USO tours during WWII - not just the tours that featured major Hollywood stars but also the small obscure groups who often performed in areas of great danger but wanted to do what they could to entertain the soldiers.

The Woman with No Name by Audrey Blake

book cover of historical fiction novel The Woman with No Name by Audrey Blake
March 2024; Sourcebooks Landmark; 978-1728270821
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical fiction

She'll light the fire of resistance―but she may get burned…

Yvonne was a fortyish-year-old woman in 1942 when she was flown into France as an espionage agent who was charged with helping the French resistance.  She was estranged from her daughter and husband and their home in London had been decimated by a bomb during the Blitz.  When she was recruited as Britain's first female sabotage agent, expectations were low because she was older but everyone thought it would be easier for her to do things in France without raising the suspicion of the Germans because of her age.  But to get there, she had to learn to shoot and become an expert on explosives and how to hide herself in plain sight.  The men in England and in the resistance didn't believe that she could make a difference but they hadn't given her enough credit.  She was tenacious and brave and willing to do things that no one else would or could do.  Life got even more dangerous for her when the Germans started looking for her but it didn't make her stop doing what she could to end the German occupation of her beloved France.

Even though I've read numerous books about the French resistance, I've never read about a character like Yvonne.  She was older than most of the resistance fighters and no one felt that she would be able to do the job.  She was strong enough to be able to prove them wrong.  It's apparent that the author did extensive research on life in the Resistance in occupied France.

Note:  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book and find out about the real person that the book is based on.  Some of the characters in the book are fictional characters that are based on real people but the main character, Yvonne Rudellat was a real person who was part of the Resistance in France during WWII.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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