Women of Steel: More Books About WWII

Memorial to WWII Women
Memorial To Women in WWII, England. Source: Pickersgill Reef, Flickr

I love books about World War II. I love books about strong women. Here are some emotionally involving books that combine the two.

In Teresa Messineo's The Fire by Night, Jo and Kay are best friends and army nurses, each in their own special hell: Jo on the front lines of the advance in France, and Kay as a prisoner of war in Manila. To get through the unspeakable, they fall back on their training and memories of each other, even after hope has left them. Each deals with loss in her own way as the war winds down in this impressive first novel. 

Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart is equally grim. Told from four different perspectives, it takes place in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Duda is pregnant from rape and utterly alone. Maria has been shipped from Kiev to work in an artillery camp, a highly dangerous position. Her father, Ivan, suffers crushing guilt for not being able to save his Jewish friends. Frederick, the son of a high-ranking SS officer, has grown disillusioned with the cause and a parent he can never please. Moving, gritty, and disturbing, this is a sweeping saga. 

Sebastian Faulk's Charlotte Gray can speak French and joins the secret services of Britain to parachute into France and find her lover, a downed RAF pilot. Of course, that's not her assigned mission, which is to deliver radio crystals to the Resistance. Still, Charlotte falls in love with the village she travels to, and is involved in the heroics of the maquis while searching for her true love. This is a romantic testament to the power of l'amour

Sardonic humor lightens the mood in Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, set during the Blitz. Mary, a society girl, teaches children rejected for evacuation and is the lover of Tom, a school administrator. Tom's roommate Alistair enlists ends up in Malta under siege. Hilda is Mary's friend, and through the book she evolves from snob to decent human. Hilda likes Alistair, who likes Mary, who likes Alistair back, but feels loyal to Tom. Everyone tries to keep calm and carry on. Compelling characters and witty dialog distinguish this book.

Of course, you have your own favorite books about The War. Tell us about them in the comments.

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