There is something about THE FIRE BY NIGHT by Teresa Messineo that packs a big punch. Perhaps it’s the reality of nurses who volunteered to serve during the war and who were put into the same horrific, life-threatening predicaments as soldiers, but who were never fully recognized for it? Perhaps it was learning of their mettle, their humanity.
While this book had a more commercial feel to it than the books I gravitate toward in my 4- and 5-star ratings (faster pace vs. a quiet unraveling, less emphasis on setting and sensory description, lots of exposition, and some parts with a romance novel-feel to them), I have to say that it gripped me. To be honest, I’d recently finished reading another William Morrow author of WWII historical fiction and was sure nothing could top it. And yet…
While this book was completely different than the other I read – in style and in content – different than a lot of WWII stories, it was still quite engaging. Told from the perspective of American nurses, it is a story that brought to light geographic areas and events during WWII of which I was completely ignorant. I love when I learn something new, when I am moved by it. And to be clear, this novel – particularly Kay’s chapters – were so emotionally resonant and unsettling that I found myself unable to sleep at night. That’s honestly never happened to me before.
THE FIRE BY NIGHT by Teresa Messineo is a story of incredibly brave women, loss, friendship, a love story, a missing piece of history.
I think readers of women’s fiction – and book clubs – will find a lot to admire and discuss in this book, which, to me, read as two separate (and interesting) stories – more so than a tied-in narrative of two friends (at least at the conclusion of the novel, where I sense book length/editing might have contributed to my feelings of a rushed tie-in between characters). It is a fast, quick read. Even so, any book that elicits the kind of emotion this one did for me, is a book worthy of praise. And any author who delves passionately into women’s history the way Messineo did is one to be admired.
(A version of this review was published by Melissa Crytzer Fry at GoodReads on Mar 31, 2017. It is reposted here with the permission of the author.)