EYES ON THE STARS
Winner of the READERS' CHOICE AWARD
Winner of the 2011 GOLDIE
for BEST HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Jessie Keaton and Claudia Sherwood were as different as night and day. But when their nation needed experienced female pilots, their reactions were identical: heed the call.
In early 1943, the two women joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots—WASP—and reported to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where they promptly fell head-over-heels in love.
The life of a WASP was often perilous by definition. Being two women in love added another layer of complication entirely, leading to ostracism and worse. Like many others, Jessie and Claudia hid their relationship, going on dates with men to avert suspicion. The ruse worked well until one seemingly innocent afternoon ruined everything.
Two lives tragically altered. Two hearts ripped apart.
And a second chance more than fifty years in the making.
From the airfields of World War II, to the East Room of the Obama White House, follow the lives of two extraordinary women whose love transcends time and place.
Lynn Ames Reading
audio excerpt for - EYES on the STARS
FROM THE LESBIAN READING ROOM
1943 and the war effort needs women pilots to release men to the front. A new batch of trainee pilots arrives at the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots camp in Texas for their basic training. Included in the group, and bunked together in a hut are Jessie Keaton and Claudia Sherwood. As different as chalk and cheese this unlikely pair – one a misfit who is terminally shy, the other a confident carefree risk taker – promptly form a bond that will last a lifetime.
The life of the WASPs is dangerous. Learning to fly every type of aircraft as quickly as possible with less than stellar trainers threatens their physical lives. Hiding their sexuality and relationship from their commanding officers and even their fellow trainees threatens their happiness and their continued role in the WASPs. Discovery would mean being discharged from something they both desperately want to do. So they pretend to like men, pretend to like the social life of dances and dates to shield their relationship from prying suspicious eyes.
As they reach the end of their training and plan for their future together an innocent picnic will change their lives forever.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best historical romances I have read. The fact that the protagonists are lesbians, the romance touching, the impact of being ‘hidden’ devastating all just adds to the layers of love, loss and heartbreak.
Lynn Ames merges the past with the present into a seamless tale of woe that had me crying at almost every turn. The deep love of Claudia that Jessie never thinks she deserves reminds us of the despairing self sacrifice of The Well of Loneliness. Claudia’s suffering in silence that tears them apart is soul destroying. And the abiding feelings of both women, one expressed by an empty life, the other by the longing of her unsent letters, rip your heart out. Just writing the review makes me choke up with the tears.
Exceptionally well written and structured the book flows effortlessly between 1943 and the present when Jessie attends a ceremony to honor the WASP women. The characters are beyond real, they have taken up a space in my heart like family members, lost in time but never forgotten. The dialogue and historical realism is perfectly crafted to make us believe in the lives of these women both in 1943, when they were young and daring, and now, old, fading, but still full of the heat and emotions from 60 years before.
The tension is palpable both then and now. From the beginning we know they are not together in the present and that Claudia has a daughter – suggesting Jessie’s fears were well founded. But Ms Ames holds the suspense throughout as we wait to find out what broke them apart, what held them apart for all those years.
This book will always be on my re-read shelf. It is impossible not to feel every emotion of these complex characters. I read it in one sitting, could not put it down, as I longed for a different ending even though you already know the heartbreak. Throughout the flashbacks what you want more than anything else is for these women to find happiness. Whether I can pluck up the courage to read it again will depend on how many Kleenex I can stockpile and a willingness to cry for hours.
An exceptional history of women’s hidden service and a heartbreaking romance, “Eyes on the Stars’ tops Lynn Ames’ previous works – no mean feat for a celebrated and justly praised author and a first class storyteller.