Monday, April 23, 2018
The War Bride's Scrapbook by Caroline Preston
Two adult women correspond after one finds a scrapbook in a suitcase in their mother's closet. They had never seen the scrapbook, and the story it reveals is not one that they had ever heard nor understood. The scrapbook is divided into four sections, "Life Before Perry - 1921-1943", "Our Romance - 1943", "Life Without Perry - 1943-1945", and "Homecoming - 1945". The scrapbook ends there. Fortunately, the daughters reveal the story's ending.
Lila Louise Jerome graduated from Sweet Briar College in Virginia, but failed to graduate with the "Mrs." her parents hoped she would achieve. She was fascinated by architecture, but women couldn't get an architecture degree in Virginia at the time. So, after graduation she worked for her father in the insurance business, and, once the U.S. entered the war, she worked for the University of Virginia running the Bond Drive office. Then, she met Perry Weld for the second time, when her roommate left. She advertised for a roommate and Perry answered. He was a sergeant, a combat engineer getting ready to go overseas. He'd graduated with a degree in architecture, so they shared an interest. Fifteen days later they were married in what was called "a furlough wedding". And, when Perry was sent for training, and then overseas, Lila Weld put together a scrapbook, a keepsake for when "a husband returns home".
What happens when a man comes home, a husband that you only knew for a month before he left? What happens when the man comes home injured, no longer the man you married? This marriage, and Lila Louise Jerome's experiences were unusual. And, her daughters questioned why Lila and Perry didn't divorce. It's a fascinating question, and Lila's future is revealed only in her obituary years after the war.
Preston's book brings the war years and this marriage to life, using all the little details of the scrapbook. It's a unique way to tell a story. And, it works so well. It's a moving book, with a powerful ending with that obituary. Preston, an archivist who has collected historic scrapbooks for years, puts them to excellent use in this unusual story.
Caroline Preston's website is www.carolinepreston.com
The War Bride's Scrapbook by Caroline Preston. HarperCollins, 2017. ISBN 9780061966927 (hardcover), 223p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book