In­flu­ences of Amer­i­can his­tory in com­pelling and last­ing ways

El Dorado News-Times - - Living - By Lauri Wil­son and Philip Shack­elford Lauri Wil­son is a li­brary tech­ni­cian and Philip Shack­elford is the li­brary di­rec­tor at South Arkansas Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

This year is the 100th an­niver­sary of U.S. en­try into World War I, and just last month many vet­er­ans and oth­ers across our coun­try marked the 73rd an­niver­sary of D-Day, a turn­ing point for the Al­lies in World War II. Both con­flicts have in­flu­enced Amer­i­can his­tory in com­pelling and last­ing ways, and with World War II in par­tic­u­lar, th­ese episodes of­fer in­sight and in­spi­ra­tion for those deal­ing with var­i­ous kinds of ad­ver­sity in the seven-plus decades since.

We all re­act to ad­ver­sity in dif­fer­ent ways. Some find their way out by help­ing oth­ers, oth­ers by cre­at­ing art to in­spire and en­ter­tain. The abil­ity to find hu­man­ity and beauty, even when the world is full of de­struc­tion and sad­ness, makes for a story well worth read­ing, like the ones in to­day’s col­umn. Although sev­eral of them are set dur­ing World War II, each one is unique and of­fers a com­pelling per­spec­tive of this fa­mous con­flict.

“The Chilbury Ladies Choir” by Jen­nifer Ryan be­gins in 1940. In the quaint vil­lage of Chilbury, Eng­land, ev­ery­one has the war to worry about, but on the home front there is a cri­sis: no men to sing in the church choir, since the war be­gan. Sev­eral bold ladies de­cide to form a women-only choir (imag­ine the shock) and bring mu­sic to the town. Mean­while, the rest of the town is not as cozy as it looks, as the read­ers will dis­cover by fol­low­ing the ladies’ jour­nal en­tries and let­ters.

Dif­fer­ent points of view are an im­por­tant part of “The Women in the Cas­tle” by Jes­sica Shat­tuck. In spite of the ti­tle, there are no fairy tale princesses in this cas­tle, only Mar­i­anne von Lin­gen­fels. Her hus­band died in a fa­mously failed plot to as­sas­si­nate Hitler. Left to pick up the pieces of her beloved home­land, fol­low­ing World War II, Mar­i­anne vows to find and pro­tect the wid­ows of the other con­spir­a­tors, but it is no easy task. Af­ter be­ing re­united, the women have the dif­fi­cult task of learn­ing to sur­vive and pro­tect their chil­dren—all while liv­ing with the dark se­crets and the hor­ri­ble choices they kept from even their res­cuer, Mar­i­anne.

An­other ex­am­ple of some­one who was com­pelled to help oth­ers is the hero­ine of “Li­lac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly. The lives of three women, from three very dif­fer­ent places, be­gin to en­twine when one of them is sent to a women’s con­cen­tra­tion camp dur­ing World War II. De­spite its grim sub­ject mat­ter, this is his­tor­i­cal fic­tion that peo­ple are talk­ing about: in­spir­ing, well-re­searched and based on a real per­son—Car­o­line Fer­ri­day, whose story is now be­ing told.

Fi­nally to France, quickly over­run by the Nazis dur­ing the early days of World War II, where we have the set­ting for “The Nightin­gale” by Kristin Han­nah. Two sis­ters, Vianne and Is­abelle, must live side-by-side with the en­emy, while one of them joins the Re­sis­tance and risks her life to save oth­ers and help the Al­lied cause.

Lastly we fea­ture “Jew­els in the Junk­yard: An Artist’s Guide to Find Heal­ing Af­ter Loss” by War­ren Lud­wig. We’re so proud to add this to our col­lec­tion since the au­thor grew up in El Do­rado, and be­cause it fits in with to­day’s topic. The book fea­tures not only Lud­wig’s won­der­ful draw­ings and his late wife’s pho­to­graphs, but he’s also writ­ten about his loss and com­ing to terms with grief. He found his art was a tremen­dous help, and now we can en­joy it as well.

Don’t wait to get your hands on th­ese ti­tles—they are go­ing fast! Visit the SouthArk Li­brary to­day to se­cure your free li­brary card, ac­cess to Hoopla Dig­i­tal and other new and ex­cit­ing of­fer­ings! Li­brary staff can be reached at li­brarystaff@southark.edu<mailto:li­brarystaff@ southark.edu> and (870) 864-7115, or at our web­site www.southark.libguides.com<http://www.southark. libguides.com/>! We’ll see you in the li­brary!

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