Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

This book was a pleasant surprise for me. I picked it up at my church's library book sale, because I had read another book by this author that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I wasn't too sure about reading it. Then in the process of my goal to read all of my books this year it came up as next on the list. So I figured I just get it done with, but I actually really enjoyed it. The story, set during WWII is about four different women who take up the challenge to aid the war effort by going to work at a shipyard.

Virginia, or Ginny as she likes to be called, feels like she's not all that useful at home now that both of her boys are in school and don't need coddling anymore. Ginny's husband, Harold, has been acting aloof for awhile now and Ginny begins to fear he may leave her, but she is too timid to approach him about things she finds, that she feels points to the the fact that he's been cheating on her. As Ginny works at the shipyard (without Harold's knowledge) she begins to find a new strength and confidence.

Helen is a retired single schoolteacher, whose parents have died leaving her a large fortune. But money can't buy happiness or erase loneliness, so in an effort to escape her large empty house Helen decides to take a job at the Stockton shipyard. She tries to not become involved with her coworkers lives, but little by little they wear down her defenses and Helen finds herself growing deeply attached to the girls she works with.

Rosa is a little rough around  the edges, due to growing up on the streets of New York with her rather un-mother-like mother. She elopes with sweet and wholesome Dirk Voorhees a corpsman-in-training and goes to live with his parents in Stockton while he is in the service. But Dirk's religious and somewhat uptight family mix like oil and water with Rosa. So in order to get away from he in-laws for at least part of the day she goes to work at the shipyard. While there the other women help smooth some of her rough edges and she begins to wonder if there is more to this God-thing than she thought.

Jean moves from Indiana to Stockton in order to work at the shipyard. Her lifelong dream is to attend college, but she is waiting until after the war to attend with her twin brother who jumped at the chance to enlist.  But her long-time boyfriend, Russ, back in Indiana took the farmers exemption to stay out of the war, which kind of irks Jean even though she tries to be happy that he's not in danger. Russ doesn't communicate much and when he does it's often only to get her to change her plans to fit his. And to make it more complicated, while Jean is trying to figure out what to do with Russ she also has to decide what to do about the mutual attraction between her and Earl Seaborn who couldn't fight do to having polio as a child.

As these four women's lives intertwine they discover new things about themselves, God, and the people around them.

About the Author

Lynn Austin, a former teacher who now writes and speaks full time, has won six Christy Awards for her historical fiction. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into a Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home near Chicago, Illinois.


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