In ON WINGS OF THE MORNING, Marie Bostwick continues the story from her debut novel, FIELDS OF GOLD, to create a World War II novel that will charm historical fiction fans and intrigue faith fiction readers.
Using settings that range from Oklahoma to Chicago, Bostwick spins a sweet (but not cloying) tale of a man and a woman who have a passion for flying. The story opens in Dillon, Oklahoma in 1933, where young Morgan Glennon is the illegitimate son of an artistic quilter. He sleeps nights under a quilt his mother has made of the Oklahoma night sky appliquéd with star points. He longs to know his father’s identity, but his mother refuses to tell him.
Georgia Jean Carter is the illegitimate daughter of a pretentious “petite and pretty cracker” who passes herself off as a genteel widow in reduced circumstances, with Georgia as her baby sister. She moves herself and her daughter from Florida to Chicago. “I don’t completely understand how a Florida cracker with a bastard child and a monthly allowance from her former lover managed to pass herself off as the virgin widow of a southern aristocrat, but she did.”
Bostwick follows Morgan and Georgia’s lives as they fall in love with flying and find ways to indulge their passion, switching back and forth with aplomb. Georgia’s first marriage to a man she sees as a friend provides a nice contrast to the later love she finds for Morgan. He dates a girl back home but finds true love elusive until he meets Georgia.
The author crafts some beautiful lines; of the quilt Morgan’s mother made, she writes that it was “stitched by hand with the three-strand thread that held Mama’s whole world together --- imagination, determination, and secrets.” Some of the situations are contrived (as when Georgia and Morgan are reunited by chance, or when Georgia meets Morgan’s father at a café), but if you can suspend disbelief a bit in the name of romance, you won’t mind much. Although the novel is not completely squeaky clean (there’s the occasional light profanity), it will pass muster with almost any fan of the “gentle read.”
For those who like a little faith in their fiction, Bostwick provides numerous moments where the characters look to God for answers, help and support through difficult situations. Rather than feeling forced, however, she makes these moments a natural and expected context of the time in which the characters lived. I particularly liked this prayer Morgan prays (as he is off to war):
“God, I don’t know (if) this war was part of your plan or if we brought it on ourselves, but I know it’s no surprise to you. I don’t know if I’ll make it home this time or not, but unless you’ve got a better idea, I’d like to come home in one piece --- if not for me than at least for Mama. Watch out for her while I’m gone….” Even the most hard-hearted reader will find it difficult to suppress a sniffle or two.
One of the particular joys of ON WINGS OF THE MORNING is Bostwick’s portrayal of the WASPs (Women’s Air Service Pilots) and their spotty reception in the chauvinistic world of the 1940s. The true-life character of Charles Lindbergh, who provides a few cameo appearances throughout the story, seems a credible addition. Like the best historical fiction, ON WINGS OF THE MORNING will stimulate readers to do their own investigations of this slice of WWII. Although this is a follow-up to FIELDS OF GOLD, it is also easily read as a stand-alone.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org on January 13, 2011