A Distant Melody – A Book Review

[Note:  Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader.  It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book.  Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.]

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A Distant Melody – (Wings of Glory, Book One)

By Sarah Sundin

Published 2010 by Revell

I am a bit obsessed with WWII.  My house is decorated mostly with vintage items, WWII memorabilia and many WWII posters and photographs – many of them authentic, a few reproductions.  I read extensively on WWII and have bookcases full of WWII history books.  I own and have read (some more than once) the entire Time-Life series of WWII books.  I happened to come across Book Three of this Wings of Glory series in a local deep discount store.  I was immediately taken by the fact that it is set during WWII.  Disappointed that I could not find Books One and Two at the store, I nonetheless bought Book Three, brought it home and promptly located the first two books used on Amazon.

The three books sat here tempting and taunting me for more than a week.  I had promised myself that I would not read anything until my own novel was finished.  I finally was able to type The End and then did two rounds of proofreading and editing.  When we left this past Thursday for a little get-away to our northwoods retreat, I could finally crack open A Distant Melody without guilt.

A Distant Melody is the story of Allie Miller, a rich heiress who has never been pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother.  Desperate to gain her parents’ approval, Allie silently agrees to their promising her hand to the up-and-coming manager of her father’s company, despite the fact that it’s obvious the man (Baxter Hicks) does not love her.

When Allie travels to attend her best friend’s wedding, she meets Lt. Walter Novak, a crackerjack B-17 pilot who is on his last furlough before shipping out with the Army Air Force.  Walt is hopeless with women, but finds Allie easy to talk to and the two are soon keeping each other company as their friends are busy with wedding preparations.  Allie believes Walt knows about Baxter and Walt is under the mistaken impression that Allie is a free woman.

Allie and Walt agree to exchange letters and soon they are writing to one another several times a week.  Their relationship deepens over the months and soon they are falling in love, although neither one wants to admit their feelings.  As Allie’s wedding draws closer, she must make some hard decisions – first off about who she should be obedient to: her parents or God.  Walt, too, must do some deep soul searching, especially in the area of honesty and stretching the truth as he has often been known to do.

A Distant Melody is Sarah Sundin’s first novel and it is a wonderful debut.  She is a very talented author and does a marvelous job of character development, showing the growth and changes in both the main characters, especially in their spiritual walk.  Mrs. Sundin also does a marvelous job of bringing the reader right into the action as the B-17’s go on their various bombing missions over France and Germany.  It’s obvious she did her research but she doesn’t allow the story to get bogged down in technical jargon.  There are excellent secondary characters on both sides of the ocean – in both Allie’s life and Walt’s.  Mrs. Sundin also does a great job of portraying the lifestyles and hardships of the war years.

Allie must make the hardest decision of her life regarding her impending marriage to Baxter.  When her parents threaten to disinherit her if she does not marry Baxter, her decision is made even more painful.

Meanwhile, Walt is wounded in combat and returns stateside.  Once home, he must overcome his anguish and insecurities to win the heart of the woman he has come to love.  The ending is emotional, funny, a bit suspenseful and very satisfying.

For any reader interested in Inspirational Romance and WWII, I would definitely recommend A Distant Melody.  I’m already anxious to start Book Two – A Memory Between Us.  Walt’s brother Jack is the main character in the second book.

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