Viv, a 19 year old college student at Vassar College met Danny, a 26 year old PhD student at Columbia over summer break. They wrote to each other consistently during their courtship. The author (Viv) discovered these letters from her college years in a box, 67 years after they had first been written. She chose to offer these letters to the world, creating a volume both intriguing and touching. Viv’s openness and honesty make this book refreshing. Blending the correspondence with Danny, some from her family, and dairy entries, Ms. Kline offers us a unique view of her own coming of age.
Their observations on America of 1944 open an amazing window into the day to day collegiate world during World War II. As a historian, I found myself fascinated with the world described. Letters have always offered an amazing glimpse at our past from the everyday perspective. These letters vividly present a college world only a slightly different than the one we know today. The war appears ever present but often overshadowed by extra curricula activities, personal relationships, academic studies, and the usual interests of young adults.
My biggest problem with Love in the ’40s stemmed from the ordering of the letters. With more than one letter being written a day and varying delivery, the order the letters appear in the book sometimes refer to letters that appear in later pages. So, I had trouble trying to follow the discussion and then several page later I would get to the letter that cleared it all up. Also, footnotes would have been wonderful. I never thought I would think that but there you have it. The letters would reference people or events that the readers did not know much about making it difficult to follow. A few footnotes to explain the details missed and to help keep all the people straight would have made the book much easier to follow.
Despite the above complaint, I truly enjoyed this book. These letters cover the era my grandparents came of age in and I found it fascinating to learn more about it. Viv’s delightful exuberance about life made the letters a joy to read. Danny’s sweetness and support make me wonder where all the men like that went! However, I recommend reading them in small sections. At well over 500 pages, the book can be a bit much to read straight through. Nearly every letter made me smile. A couple of them made me gasp in shock (I did not know people in the 40s did THAT). Some of them made me laugh. Altogether, reading this collection was a rewarding experience.
Sara Drake has been an avid reader since a young age. She has both a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in History.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Vivian Kline. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.