Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 3, 2017)
A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.
In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo single-handedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.
Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.
When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place and the hope of love in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
About Teresa Messineo
Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night,her first novel. She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.
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I was sent a copy of The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review for TLC Book Tours.
Teresa Messineo’s impressive debut novel The Fire by the Night follows two nurses serving their country on two different fronts during World War II. I have previously read quite a bit of historical fiction set in Europe, however this was the first time I’ve read about those on the Pacific front.
The immense amount of research that went into writing this novel, is evident in the details. This is especially prominent in the use of medical terminology, which was included much more than is typical for this genre. I didn’t realise how little is known about the horrors female nurses faced during this time and the conditions they were forced to live in as prisoners of war.
Jo and Kay’s separate stories interested me for different reasons. While I felt Jo’s perspective offered more from a psychological point of view, Kay’s kept my attention from a geographical standpoint.
Unfortunately I did have some trouble with the graphic descriptions, which still haunt me even after I completed the novel. For this reason I would advise caution to those who are interested in reading The Fire by Night. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy detailed historical fiction.