Friday, February 03, 2017

What is Teresa Messineo reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Teresa Messineo, author of The Fire by Night: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
While attending language school in Tuscany last summer, I stumbled across The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in their tiny, English-language lending library and my life was forever changed. Written by the much lesser known sister Anne Bronte (using the male pseudonym of Acton Bell, thus retaining her initials), this book was revolutionary and 100, 150 years before its time. After years of manipulation and misuse, a free-thinking woman escapes from her villainous husband, with her young son in tow. Instead of focusing solely upon this abusive relationship (as other novels from this time period would have done), and far from praising the long-suffering female archetype for remaining in bondage, Wildfell Hall is unique in that it opens ‘after the fact.’ The woman has already escaped, and we know nothing of the mysterious new tenant, Helen Graham, other than that she has moved into a provincial neighborhood and prefers to keep to herself. Only later in the novel - after the townspeople have accepted, rejected, befriended, fallen in love with and ultimately ostracized Helen for refusing to divulge her secrets or her reasons for remaining aloof - do we finally...[read on]
About The Fire by Night, from the publisher:
A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
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My Book, The Movie: The Fire by Night.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire by Night.

Writers Read: Teresa Messineo.

--Marshal Zeringue