He is an all American boy from Chicago whose destiny brought him to the life of a B-17 pilot in the U.S. 8th Air Force. She is a girl determined to fight with the resistance in occupied Holland and has nothing to lose. In times of peace they had once been pen pals. Will they ever manage to find each other? After all, It was WWII and everything changed.
All is fair in love and war.
Diane Moody’s historical fiction novel titled Of Windmills And War was an absolute gem to read in my opinion and luckily it is an incredible three book trilogy. My favorite part about starting this series was how instantly I became sucked into the characters, setting, and era. It is one of those books that captures you in the first minute. No detail is spared and readers easily get lost in the worlds of Danny McClain and Anya Versteeg. The story is all hook, line, and sinker. Once this happens there is no such thing as not finishing the book. The reader is done for. I wanted to know everything happening and couldn’t put it down for a single moment. The characters are so enduring, relatable, inspiring, and a bit tragic.
To begin my book review I want to start by saying this book will forever be dear to my heart because it offers everything under the sun. It was just truly talented writing on Diane Moody’s part. A treasure that everyone who loves historical fiction should consider reading in my opinion. It is no wonder the author is an amazon best seller and I have no regrets giving it a chance. I was able to get a kindle copy for free with my kindle unlimited plan which was amazing but it only cost $2.99 if you don’t have the kindle unlimited plan.
One of the main character is Danny McClain. He is from Chicago and is a fairly young adolescents boy at the start of the novel. Readers get to follow him through the years when he finally begins college, almost gets married, and enlist in the war. He is what caught my attention right away. A wholesome, sweet-hearted, hardworking naïve child who has no idea the horrors beginning to rear its ugly head in Europe. He has problems of his own as he grows up but learns to deal with them with grace. He is determined to find happiness and make his way in the world all on his own. He loves his father, mother, and brother. They seems like the good all American family but a lot is happening behind the scenes and not everything is happy. As a reader, I was transported into his world and felt his troubles. They are a family you want to see only good things happen for because you begin to love them without even realizing it. As Danny is growing up he is connected to a pen pal through his high school as part of the curriculum. This is where he meets Hans and eventually his little sister Anya. Close ties are formed through letters over the years and this one of my favorite things. There is such a charm to the letters that are sent back and forth from the U.S and Holland between these people. This was honestly the more captivating aspects of the book because by the time you read the letters and the characters are cut off because nothing can get in or out of Holland, readers are hooked and care desperately for all the people involved. I was invested and had to see how things would turn out in the story for the characters involved. Their experiences and journey matter to me and that is the most important thing the author could have done.
What is going to happen next?
This ambition novel has three locations taking place but it was easy to follow along and I was never confused about what was going on which is always a concern of mine when books follow more than one character. The first two locations is with Danny in the U.S then later in England; however, an important aspect and place occurring is located in the second main character’s home country of Holland. Anya has always been a bright, mischief, and fun-loving trouble maker with a beautiful family of her own. There is feisty and stubborn spirit about Anya that cannot be squashed. The girl has fight in her and will always be the one throwing the last punch. That is just who she is and always will be. It was amazing following her story and watching as she grows ups. When the Germans occupy her homeland, the real trouble begins. She has never been a stranger to tragedy; however, the German occupation and being cut-off from the rest of the world will test her to the limit and bring her to brink. She is quite the opposite of Danny in many ways and it is my opinion that Anya was never allowed to be naïve and despite Danny’s own personal tragedies, he will never face the horrors this girl goes through. The world was much kinder to him. The war was being fought in front of her very eyes and hits home way more than what Danny deals with. He is lucky to grow up in the United States where fighting isn’t felt like it was in Europe. A place where the war was literally destroying entire cities, the natural earth, and killing millions of people at alarming rates. Anya has to face this head on before she is even finished with high school. This is not something Danny sees until much later even though the war hits closer to home than he ever thought it was possible. The author was magnificent in how she manages to make such distinction and truly detail the differences. It is very accurate and true to the history. I appreciate how much research must have gone into writing this story because the picture being painted is a vibrant one and masterfully brings the era to life in ways that can often be missed in historical fiction.
Alright, so now I will discuss some aspects I didn’t like. Readers need to be aware and keep in mind that this book can be at times very emotional and difficult to stomach. It is wartime and nobody is ever safe. There is a lot of tragedy, drama, and horror taking place. A couple times, it was really upsetting to read what is occurring when you as a reader are invested into the story as I was. Just keep that in mind. This novel will tear your heart to many pieces at time. Another thing readers should know is that I found the book to be a bit slow the first half. I was anxious to get to the point where I knew something was going to happen but it felt like ages to finally get there. I don’t mind that personally. It is a bit slower to start but by the time I was a few minutes into reading the novel I was already so invested into the character’s lives and every moment building up to the bigger events was just adding to that love and investment into the story. I honestly got a lot of Forrest Gump vibes while reading. This is hard to explain but I will try. It is not that any of the characters remind me of anyone but much more about the timeline. You follow the characters through several years and watch as they grow and things change in a similar way to Gump.
In the end, this book was amazing in my opinion and is a 5 out of 5 star read for me. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading books and historical fiction novels.
From five time Amazon All-Star author Diane Moody comes Of Windmills and War.
The rumblings of war in distant countries mattered little to Danny McClain. Growing up in Chicago, his world revolved around after-school jobs, a rescued beagle, his pen pal in Holland, and the Cubs’ chance to go to the World Series. Then, in December of 1941, during his first year at Northwestern University, news of the attack on Pearl Harbor hit much too close to home. After a series of unexpected events over the next couple of years, Danny found himself in the co-pilot seat of a B-17, stationed with the 390th Bomb Group in Framlingham, England.
Anya Versteeg had been just a teenager when Hitler’s troops invaded her homeland of Holland in May of 1940. Forced to grow up much too fast, the feisty preacher’s daughter eagerly immersed herself in the Dutch Resistance and its many efforts to thwart the enemy. Certain that God had turned His back on Holland, she closed her heart and did whatever she had to do to save her country before it was too late.
By 1945, the people of Occupied Holland were starving. Cut off from the outside world in retaliation for their failed attempt to oust the Germans invaders, the Dutch had no food, no electricity, no fuel, and little hope of surviving. Thousands were dying every day. Then, just days before the war ended, help came to The Netherlands like manna from heaven.
Operation Chowhound held special meaning for Lieutenant Danny McClain. Somewhere below in the battered land of tulips and windmills was the girl who needed rescuing–after rescuing so many others. And he would move heaven and earth to find her.
What readers are saying about Of Windmills and War:
“Without a doubt one of the finest World War 2 novels ever written! The storyline . . . is so well crafted, vivid and exquisite in character development, that reading this book not only informs but is also a lesson in writing.”
“Action, romance, a page turner. I loved every minute of it, and was sad when it was finished. One of those books you wished never ended.”
“One of the best books I’ve read.”
“Scenes so clearly written I could see them.”
“You felt like you were part of the story from the very beginning. The accuracy of events was amazing.”
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