Elmer & Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters
Quickfoot Books (2021)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (01/2022)
“Elmer & Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters” is a strong and beautiful embroidery of epistolary letters edited and compiled by John Odell. The book contains hundreds of letters exchanged between Elmer Odell and Virginia Schill during the bleak and uncertain period of the Second World War.
Masterfully compiled, the letters present readers with the blossoming love between the two who were initially friends as they grew to adulthood and pursued different careers. Elmer Odell enlisted into the US Army for service in the ongoing war, while Ginny (Virginia) wrote newspaper stories back at home.
The book interspersed across Elmer and Ginny’s points of view, including their experiences on two different fronts: Ginny on the home front and Elmer on the battlefront. The letters further contain information related to that period, which includes the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The emotions of the two lovers flow freely in the letters as each expressed their thoughts, fears, successes, and concerns over a myriad of issues.
The book allows readers to visualize what romance and courtship really meant at a time when technology was limited and during a time of fear and chanciness. “Elmer & Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters” is a work full of tangible inspiration that has to be read from the first page to the end to be fully appreciated. It is a beautiful tribute to those who were at the battlefront to restore peace and tranquility to the world and those who stayed at home waiting anxiously for the return of their loved ones.
There are some events mentioned in the letters referenced by Elmer and Ginny that may seem unfamiliar to readers, nevertheless, I believe John Odell intended to maintain the originality of the story hence avoiding doing any add-ons. My favorite aspect of the book was the chronological order with which the letters are arranged, making the story flow like music, thus resulting in an appealing reading experience. For this reason, I give the book 5 stars.
“Elmer & Virginia: A World War II Romance in Letters” by John Odell is a great memoir that reflects on a blossoming love at a time of war.