Review by Jenna Zerbel, Orange Hat Publishing | Ten16 Press | July 2021
“As each loosened their respective grip – which nearly cocooned them into one – they gazed at one another wantonly. The invisible wall between them seemed to crash down at their feet.”
Although there is no shortage of tales about World War II, it turns out that there are still exciting, new stories to share. DW Hanneken makes his novel original, first and foremost, by setting it in a rural Wisconsin town, where German prisoners of war are put to work on Dairyland farms to make up the difference left by American soldiers fighting overseas. One such farm is that of Maggie Wentworth, whose abusive husband has left her with more work than she can possibly handle alone – not to mention grief. Although her elderly father and young son are with her, there is still too much work to be done, so she turns to the POW camp for extra farmhands. This is how she meets Adam, a kind German soldier who makes her feel safer and more loved than ever before. Finally, she starts to feel that her farm could truly be a home.
Hanneken does so many things well in this book, especially immersing readers in life during that time period. From the fashion references to the outdated technology, it is abundantly clear that Hanneken did his homework in terms of attention to historical details. Of course, he additionally manages to capture the overwhelming sense of turmoil that befell the globe during that time, both at war and at home. Yet, he manages to do so in a unique, enlightening way. With so much popular media already existing about World War II, it is amazing that there’s still so much to learn about life in the 1940s.
Not only is this a story that will appeal to people interested in historical fiction, but it is also highly recommended for any fans of romance! The relationship between Maggie and Adam is one that conveys equal measures of happiness and heartbreak, tension and tenderness, romance and resilience. It is impossible not to root for them by the end and hope they can find a way to defy the odds and obstacles that are forcing them apart. The hurdles they face are ones that modern readers can empathize with wholeheartedly, as are their affections for one another.
Reading The Home Front is an experience that sticks with you after you turn the final page. You’ll find yourself thinking of the characters as old friends, and maybe even returning to the story later to revisit those warm, homey feelings of hope.
About the Book
Set in rural Wisconsin during 1944-1945, this story centers around Maggie Wentworth, a wife, mother and farmer who struggles to keep her life in balance after her physically abusive husband enlists in the Army and is shipped to Europe during WWII. On one hand, she’s happy he left. On the other, she has to deal with the challenges of an aging father, a young son, and the temptation of an attractive German POW who is harvesting apples on her farm.
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Article originally Published in the August / September 2021 Issue: Summer Reads.