A World War II Story You'll Love!
I’m so excited that one of my closest friends, Sarah Shaber, has a new book out. Sarah is the author of the Professor Simon Shaw Mystery Series, but now she’s branching out in a new direction. Sarah’s part of my Weymouth 7 Writers Group, so I had the opportunity to brainstorm with her as she created this thrilling story and I’m glad she’s chosen to introduce you to her intriguing character, Louise Pearlie. Please welcome Sarah to the blog.
Meet Louise Pearlie
Hello, everyone! I am Sarah Shaber, one of Diane’s writing buddies here in North Carolina. I was delighted when Diane asked me to introduce you to my new heroine, Louise Pearlie, and my first book about her, Louise’s War.
It’s 1942, Louise Pearlie, a young widow, has come to Washington DC to work for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. There she learns that a college friend, a French Jewish woman named Rachel Bloch, is trapped with her family in Vichy France. Unable to trust her colleagues, Louise risks everything, including her life, to help Rachel escape the Nazis.
Even more challenging than the research needed to set a book in the past (see photo of piles of research!) was discovering just who Louise was as a woman and a person. The early 1940s was a time most of us wouldn’t want to live in. Women were old maids if they didn’t marry by their early twenties. If they wanted a career they were told they couldn’t have that and a home and family, too!
By 1940 the Depression was ten years old, jobs were scarce, and much of what we consider necessities didn’t exist. Imagine living without antibiotics and birth control!
“Colored” people were second-class citizens confined to demeaning occupations, married women were subservient to their husbands, and in Europe Hitler had begun his conquests.
Louise, a young widow, lived with her parents in her old bedroom, completely dependent on them, with little hope of escape. Then the war came and everything changed. The men left town to join the military and Louise got a job.
My boss was a simple man, who tended to say the same things over and over again, in case you didn’t grasp his meaning the first few times. “Louise,” he would say to me, “you ain’t like most women. You know how to keep your mouth shut.” I could have reminded him that the last three people we’d fired for talking to much were men, but I knew how to keep my mouth shut about plenty that had nothing to do with military secrets.
Louise knows how to get along, to conform to what’s expected of her, but deep inside she revels in the independence her paycheck gives her and challenges the prejudices of her time, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell us what she thinks.
Oh, at first Louise thinks she’s just doing her patriotic duty by working for the government, but soon she realizes that she loves her new job and her life in a boardinghouse near Dupont Circle. She lets herself be attracted to Joe, a Czech refugee she knows nothing about, and to sympathize with Madeleine, the daughter of the boardinghouse’s colored cook, who’s searching for a job with a future. She has adventures she never dreamed of. Men, including a suave attaché from the French embassy, ask her on dates. She discovers martinis. She goes to a society party and meets Clark Gable. She gets promoted at work. She dreams of having her own apartment and a car.
Louise finds herself growing into the kind of woman who can take on the dangerous job of helping a dear friend escape from the Nazis and ultimately, to bring a killer to justice.
I realized as I wrote this book, after interviewing women who lived through this war, that Louise and women like her were our mothers and grandmothers. What they did for their country, and for women, made us all who we are today. I understand more about myself than I did before meeting Louise, and I hope some of you will want to know her, too!
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And what a wonderful PERSON Louise is…I forget to think of her as a character, she’s so real. I love how she has such freedom of expression in her own thoughts and views despite the restrictions placed on her in the 40s era.
I loved this book. So impressed by how thoroughly you took me into that era AND stayed true to that time and place. Absolutely no anachronistic mindsets. Louise is a product of her background, yet ready to move forward. Wonderful book!
I can’t wait to read this. I know what you mean by the research necessary. I’m currently writing a book set in just post WWII Germany and New Jersey. I get obsessed with one or another detail and find myself up to my ears in books within a very short space of time. Congratulations on perservering.
This sounds very much like the sort of book I will enjoy. I’ve just placed an order for my copy.
I love reading books that take place in the 40’s. I had a great aunt that had a boarding house in Washington and I loved visiting her and meeting all the people there. She treated them all like family. My uncle who was in the Navy met his future wife at Aunt Susie’s boardinghouse. They are in their 90’s and I still love hearing their stories about those times. I know I will love your book!
Thank you all for the kind words!
This book sounds so interesting!!! We lived in No. Va. for many years, and now live in N.C. near Wilmington. I am very interested in WWII novels, not many about women! Can’t wait to read it, it’s in my cart on Amazon. Good Luck….
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