Alexis Harrington’s latest book, Home by Morning (published Dec. 2011), is a book of betrayal, heartbreak, and redemption set during WWI, specifically October 1918. Jessica Layton, the protagonist, is on her way from New York to her hometown Powell Springs, Oregon, before heading to Seattle when she meets up with her first love Cole Braddock. As a clinical physician preparing for a new job in Washington state, Jessica is confronted by the past given that Cole is now courting her sister Amy. However, an influenza epidemic throws a wrench in Jessica’s plans, and she’s the only doctor available to treat the growing number of patients.
Today Alexis will share her connection to WWI, The Great War with us. Without further ado, please give her a warm welcome, and please do consider her book for your reading lists this year.
I can’t point to a family photo of a doughboy or a Tommy in uniform. My direct connections to World War I are more complicated. My grandparents were Turkish nationals of Greek ethnicity. My grandfather had already come to America by the time the war started. My grandmother was still living in Constantinople (Istanbul) when the war broke out. Eventually, she married an American naval officer and came the United States in about 1920 to live with her in-laws, which was extremely difficult for her; she didn’t speak much English, and they spoke no Greek or Turkish. The marriage did not work out, and she met and married my grandfather.
The primary of reason for my interest in World War I is that I learned practically nothing about it in school. In fact until my curiosity drove me to research it, I think the single fact I knew about World War I was that it preceded World War II. I had no idea what started it (and I’m convinced that the stated reason isn’t the true one), or any of the details. In high school English, I wasn’t in the class that read All Quiet on the Western Front.
For me, writing Home by Morning was intensely connected to my desire to write about characters facing the Great War, the challenges on the home front, and the ravages of the flu epidemic. I have very strong opinions on the subject of World War I, having devoted 10 years of research to it. There were so many lives lost to that meat grinder war of attrition—over fifteen million deaths and twenty million wounded. It was a very complicated affair and its resolution led the way into World War II and the rise of Adolf Hitler. Before that, of course, the world was gripped by the “Spanish flu,” which in 1918 and 1919 killed at least three times as many people than the Great War.
Thanks, Alexis, for sharing your story with us.
About the Author:
Alexis Harrington’s first book, Homeward Hearts, was published in 1994 and she has been entertaining readers for the past 20 years with stories about the American West and small-town life. She can be reached at www.alexisharrington.com.