The details of America’s recent history abound in Christopher Geoffrey McPherson’s News on the Home Front, bringing to life the world of rich and comfortable women left behind when husbands and brothers went to war. Paperback books are just being introduced to the stores, movies are made, silk stockings are scarce, and servants are kind. Since my own knowledge of World War II’s home front comes from my English background, this entirely different world had me hearing the silken voices of movie stars in its dialog and imagining black and white scenes from the silver screen.
Irene becomes a “vital member of the working class” building parts in a factory while her upper class friend Carole enjoys the luxuries of lying in bed, awaiting breakfast and bemoaning her fiancé’s departure for war. But the two friends are inseparable, and Irene tries to cheer Carole with shopping trips where they bemoan the absence of luxuries in the stores. On the surface, these characters annoyed me, but the story grows as it progresses, secret fears adding depth and the keeping of secrets adding tension. The characters changed, grew wiser though still annoying, and I wanted more for them.
Long pieces of backstory pull the threads together eventually, building the novel to a nicely emotional climax. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the characters’ changes of heart, but then, these are people who keep secrets even from themselves—a Home Front, but also a front kept up at home. News on the Home Front is like a black and white movie in a book, sweet, soft-spoken, soft-focused, occasionally biting, and honestly drawn.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review, and I’m just sorry it took me so long to get to it.