There is something romantic to me about the notion of falling in love with someone you’ve never met in person simply by the words that he writes. This is the topic that Hazel Woods explores in her World War I historical novel, This Is How I’d Love You.
The lovers are Hensley Dench and Charles Reid, who meet via Hensley’s father’s correspondence. Hensley reads the letters that Charles writes back and forth with her father, and when she mails the replies to Charles, she adds her own words to his letter. Charles is a soldier in the war, who struggles just to survive, and Hensley is a young and impressionable girl who finds herself seduced by an actor who forever changes the course of her life.
Because of the time period in which Hensley’s and Charles’s story takes place, the relationship between the two seems unlikely and impossible. From what little I know of the world when they would have existed, Hensley’s condition would not have been accepted by most men, and Hensley would have been forced to do the honorable thing because she had no other options. But Charles isn’t most men, and their love story is extraordinary.
This is How I’d Love You is an extremely well written book, and I am certain I will keep an eye out for future releases from Hazel Woods. It did take me some time to warm up to her writing style; I’m not particularly a fan of books written in first person present tense. Additionally, the story started out a bit slow for me and I had a hard time caring for the characters at first. But as I got to know them and became more comfortable with the author’s style, the book grew on me.
The love story is subtle and not overly sappy; after all, it is set during a gritty and uncertain period in U.S. history. The descriptions of the war scenes were difficult to stomach for me, but they were also important to read to gain a better understanding of what those men and women sacrificed to ensure life for future generations.
I recommend this book to readers with an interest in history rather than romance, because I did feel that their love story wasn’t as central to the novel as the war settings and social commentary of this era.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Plume. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.