4 out of 4 stars
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While distance can be difficult for any couple to endure, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I can't think of a more accurate statement for Mary and Bernie Kincanon. The couple's relationship is tested beyond measure when the Second World War shakes up their lives.
Years after the death of her parents, their daughter, Kathleen, discovers a bag full of handwritten letters. Delighted by their contents, Kathleen learns that the notes are addressed to her mother from her father during his time overseas in the war.
The letters reveal her usually taciturn father's ease with written words. He is honest about his feelings, his fears, and most of all, his unwavering love for his muse, Mary. How did the harsh realities of war affect the couple's relationship? Read and find out!
My Darling by Kathleen Kincanon Nosek is written to celebrate the story of her beloved mother and father. While readers are privy to Bernie's endearing words, we must use our imaginations to deduce Mary's replies because her letters are not included. The book consists of notes as well as some brief commentary and backstory provided by the author. At over 700 pages, readers are in for a lengthy glimpse at the realities of war—the distance, the uncertainty, and having faith that despite the bleak outlook, love has the power to conquer all.
There were so many things to love about this book, but my favorite was Bernie's propensity to look on the bright side of things. Given the situation, I think it would be easy to fall victim to self-sabotaging thoughts such as feeling sorry for oneself and catastrophic thinking. Still, Bernie's positivity radiated off the pages and into my heart. The time between furloughs was extensive, and there were many times that Bernie found himself in the hospital due to injuries or infections. Still, he never let those things deter him from writing his letters and promising Mary that everything would be okay. I think these positive affirmations were meant to keep Mary's spirits high, but perhaps, Bernie found comfort in them as well.
Another thing that I absolutely adored was the beautiful photographs that the author included in the book. These covered the courting stages of Bernie and Mary's relationship, as well as their wedding day and beyond. Without modern technology, people, especially soldiers, relied on black and white photographs that their loved ones would include in their letters. It was apparent through his writing, the photos that Mary sent boosted Bernie's morale.
While there was nothing that I disliked about the book, I felt it could have been improved in a small way. The handwritten letters were, at times, illegible, which is why I appreciated the author rewriting them at the end of some chapters. My only wish was that the author included these parts after each handwritten note instead of waiting until the end of each chapter, where there were dozens of others. I think this would make the book more reader-friendly. Despite that minor dislike, the book was engaging and continuously impressed me. There were a few errors, but nothing exhaustive, and I believe the book was professionally edited. With that being said, I have chosen to give the writing a rating of four out of four stars. It was beautifully crafted, had a unique premise, and I thoroughly enjoyed Mary and Bernie's love story.
For readers who love history, particularly books set during the war, this book is for you. I would also recommend this memoir to those who have an affinity for love stories. This book is bursting with passion, and the beautiful handwritten letters add another layer of romance to Bernie and Mary's story. It is quite long and emotionally taxing, and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone looking for a quick read.
I am so delighted to have been able to read and review this fantastic piece of history.
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