Like historical novels? Like novels with a plucky woman protagonist?
In this historical novel by Austin–area author Sylvia Dickey Smith, you’ll get pulled into the captivating tale of Bea Meade, young mother and “lady riveter,” as she faces a bevy of challenges on the World War II homefront in a small town in Texas.
The historical novel is set in the summer of 1943 in Orange, Texas, a sleepy little town on the Sabine River now overrun with tens of thousands of new workers. With jobs galore at the wartime shipyards, the workers are rich with cash, eager for excitement, and looking for a good time.
In the midst of this, Bea Meade, mother of an infant son, finds her life shattered when her philandering husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. To make ends meet, Bea takes a job at one of the shipyards as a riveter.
Life is good for ’most everyone in Orange – except Bea, who has to fight her battles against a no-good husband, the prejudice facing women in the workplace, and the mysteries of her past that keep her awake at night.
“Bea Meade is a spunky heroine who, after a rocky start, takes charge of her own life in defiance of family secrets and the exigencies of war.”
–– Carola Dunn, bestselling author of the Daisy Dalrymple and Cornish mystery series
As editorial director of Crickhollow Books, I was ready to acquire this novel after reading just a few pages. Bea is a memorable, appealing character that you immediately care about, and the setting in small-town Texas rings true. Not surprisingly, the author grew up in the area, in the town of Orange, where she lived until she finished high school, so she knew how to make the place come to life. (She now lives not far from Austin in Georgetown, TX.)
What I didn’t know until late in the publishing process was that part of the story was loosely rooted in her own family story. Her mother took a war-time job at a shipyard in Orange in the 1940s . . . although as a materials handler rather than as a riveter . . . to make ends meet for her family.
Some of you may already know Sylvia Dickey Smith as the author of the popular Sidra Smart mystery series, also set on the Texas / Louisiana borderland.
In A War of Her Own, she delivers a compelling piece of women’s literature, a great story that makes me feel like I spent a bit of my summer in 1943 in Orange, Texas.