Allie Miller is engaged to her father's business partner. She doesn't love him, but wants to obey her parent's wishes. During the wedding of her best friend, she meets bomber pilot Walter Novak. As Walter will be posted overseas, he and Allie decide to write each other. Trough their letters, they strike up a friendship which gives Allie the courage to search for a more fulfilling life and rethink her faith. But is friendship really all there is between them?
World War II is one of my 'favourite' eras for fiction. I've read many good books set in the '40s, such as The Liberator series by Tricia Goyer and the Women of Valor trilogy by Elyse Larson. But it's been a while I've seen any new authors in the Christian fiction market trying out this era. Until I found Sarah Sundin, that is.
A distant melody is a great debut novel. The atmosphere of the WWII era is realized well. I was especially impressed by the descriptions of the missions Walter and his crew undertook in their B-17 bomber. Sundin's great uncle was a bomber pilot during WWII and in Sarah Sundin's interest in and research of this subject is made clear in A distant melody. But also the everyday life in America during WWII with the little differences from 'normal' which Allie experiences is described well. In short, A distant melody is a novel which can really transport you to the '40s.
I loved how the main character Allie and Walt felt very real, like people you could meet and be friends with. The character growth of Allie was worked out well and something you could really relate to. I liked reading about the little steps she took towards a life more free of her parent's influence and the things she learned along the way. I also really liked how Allie and Walt were both described to be plain. Very often, even in Christian fiction, the main characters are described to be handsome and beautiful. So it's a refreshing and honest change to read about average looking people, as, let's face it, there are more of those in the world then gorgeous people!
The relationship between Allie and Walt was sweet and made more special by the fact is was build up through letters. Too often there is first physical attraction between characters and gradually they get to know each other, but Allie and Walt fell in love which each other's mind, their common way of thinking and common doubts and fears and I think that's incredibly romantic! I really like this plot device and am glad to see that one of Sundin's newer novels, With every letter, will also feature a relationship build through writing letters.
The ending of the novel was a little disappointing, I thought it was stretched out and a little bit too much will-they, wont-they for little reason. It was overly dramatic and maybe more at home at the end of a rom-com then a historic novel. Another slight minus was the response of Allie's parents to her decisions, it felt over-the-top and unrealistic, especially as the reasons behind it were not described very well.
Despite these few little cons, I'm very happy to have discovered in Sarah Sundin a new WWII author and am looking forward to reading more of her works!