What drew me to this book was the subject matter–the Gold Star Mothers from World War I. I remember my mother talking about Great-Grandmother Geneva being a ‘Gold Star Mother’, which meant she had gone on the government funded trip to France to see where her eldest son had died and was buried. The U.S. government funded these trips for nearly 8,000 women, mothers and wives. When you consider that the total U.S. deaths from that War, all on foreign soil, were 116,000, those women were but a fraction of the brokenhearted.
A Star for Mrs. Blake, by April Smith, is a rare novel about a little known period in history, and about the lives of women from all parts of American society. She touches on the prejudices of all sorts, and the kindness, too. The main character, Cora Blake, steals our hearts with her courage, her wisdom and common sense, her generosity. The writing of this novel is beautiful and clear, in a way that is becoming more and more rare. Bravo to Ms Smith!
My mother recalled seeing the photographs of her grandmother, a woman far from the rural community where she lived, aboard ship and at the grave site. I remembered reading the newspaper accounts of my great-uncle’s death. He was a pilot who ironically made it all the way through the war and died only days after the end was declared, when he crashed his plane during an air show for General Pershing. In celebration of the armistice no doubt. Can you imagine this news for his family, after the war was over?
If you enjoy period pieces from the early 1900s, I think you’ll greatly enjoy this book. At times I couldn’t put it down. I’m grateful to April Smith for many happy hours of reading.