Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Sentimental Journey by Barbara Bretton

Home Front
Book One
Barbara Bretton

Genre: World War 2 Romance
Publisher: Free Spirit Press
Date of Publication: October 15, 2014
ISBN: 9781940665078
Number of pages: 347
Word Count: approx. 70000
Cover Artist: Tammy Seidick

4 / 5 Stars

Book Description:

Before they became The Greatest Generation, they were young men and women in love . . .

It's June 1943. From New York to California, families gather to send their sons and husbands, friends and lovers off to war. The attack on Pearl Harbor seems a long time ago as America begins to understand that their boys won't be home any time soon.

In Forest Hills, New York City, twenty-year-old Catherine Wilson knows all about waiting. She's been in love with boy-next-door Doug Weaver since childhood, and if the war hadn't started when it did, she would be married and maybe starting a family, not sitting at the window of her girlhood bedroom, waiting for her life to begin.

But then a telegram from the War Department arrives, shattering her dreams of a life like the one her mother treasures.

Weeks drift into months as she struggles to find her way. An exchange of letters with Johnny Danza, a young soldier in her father's platoon, starts off as a patriotic gesture, but soon becomes a long-distance friendship that grows more important to her with every day that passes.

The last thing Catherine expects is to open her front door on Christmas Eve to find Johnny lying unconscious on the Wilsons' welcome mat with a heart filled with new dreams that are hers for the taking.

"This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

--Franklin Delano Roosevelt

My Thoughts
Sentimental Journey is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, if for different reasons than I originally thought when I first started reading it.  At the beginning of the novel I thought it was going to be more about the budding romance between Johnny and Catherine, despite the fact she was engaged to Douglas (and you already knew where that was heading), but I was pleasantly surprised as the novel delved far more into a family of women surviving without their menfolk, and the repercussions of dealing with the after-effects of women who have discovered a newfound freedom in working and feeling more independent in their daily lives.

At first I wasn't all that interested in Catherine as a character as I thought she was a bit selfish and a bit spoiled, more concerned with her own desires than with the suffering of men going to war.  When the war personally touched her, and she is forced to take over her father's company, we see a far different Catherine, one who is more independent and self-reliant.  I think as a modern woman, even as a history teacher, I still put my own values on women living during different time periods, and I have to work really hard not to do that. That thinking definitely comes through Catherine and Johnny's relationship when she is floored after her father returns from the war and some decisions are made regarding her welfare that she does not agree with, and with which her husband supports.  The whole concept of a woman staying at home, having children, and keeping a home, is definitely not part of our daily world, one where a woman is EXPECTED to do these things.  And I sympathized wholeheartedly with Catherine's dilemma as well as Johnny's.  I definitely enjoyed watching Catherine grow up, mature, and develop skills she thought she would never achieve.  I just can't imagine what life would have been like for women during this time period, thrust into positions for which they had no training, but finding they liked doing them, only to have them taken away after the war.

I also liked the many descriptions of life during the war.  It was the small things that really made this novel work; women painting their legs to make it look like they were wearing stockings, the ban on ruffles, the victory gardens, the ration coupons, etc...  Ms. Bretton was meticulous in her research and it shows in this novel.  

Sentimental Journey was an enjoyable novel about a family thrust into a responsibility for which they were not prepared when the father goes to war.  Told from multiple POVs as well as using letters back and forth, we get a look into the many different perspectives each family member held during this time period.  I thought it was well-written, and I pretty much finished it in one day.  I am looking forward to reading the sequel to this novel, Stranger in Paradise.



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About the Author:

A full-fledged Baby Boomer, Barbara Bretton grew up in New York City during the
Post-World War II 1950s with the music of the Big Bands as the soundtrack to her childhood. Her father and grandfather served in the navy during the war. Her uncles served in the army. None of them shared their stories.

But her mother, who had enjoyed a brief stint as Rosie the Riveter, brought the era to life with tales of the Home Front that were better than any fairy tale. It wasn’t until much later that Barbara learned the rest of the story about the fiancĂ© who had been lost in the war, sending her mother down a different path that ultimately led to a second chance at love . . . and to the daughter who would one day tell a little part of that story.

There is always one book that’s very special to an author, one book or series that lives deep inside her heart.  SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY and STRANGER IN PARADISE, books 1 and 2 of the Home Front series, are Barbara’s. She hopes they’ll find a place in your heart too.



  1. Thanks so much for taking time to read and review Sentimental Journey. I'm delighted that you enjoyed it.

  2. Thank you for pointing it out! It sounds like something I would enjoy.