Bornet (Speaking Up For America, 2011, etc.) collects many of the love letters that he exchanged with his late wife during World War II.
This book chronicles a long-distance romance that began blossoming between two young people in 1944. Bornet was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, serving as the fleet air barracks officer at the naval air station in Alameda, California. Beth Winchester was a sorority sister and the senior class president at the University of Nevada, Reno. The two had known each other for only two weeks before they struck up this correspondence, but they’d already seen enough in each other to wonder whether they might be soul mates. Over the course of their communications, the two fostered an intimacy that blossomed into a deep love: “You swept into my life suddenly and altogether without warning,” wrote Bornet to Winchester in the very first letter, dated August 11, 1944. Things moved quickly after that: they were married that December, and by the following May, the young woman wrote a letter back to “a husband whom I adore; and now almost certainly our first child is coming. Surely no child has ever been born with more love behind it than ours will.” Bornet, now 98, collects 153 letters out of the 209 that he and his wife exchanged over a 13-month period, in order to document the evolution of a relationship that would last nearly seven decades. In addition to their romantic content, the letters simultaneously provide an engaging look into the time period that they cover, highlighting the concerns that both civilians and military personnel had for their futures during a war whose outcome was far from certain. The present-day Bornet also helps to guide readers through the exchanges, providing context for different sections, explaining omissions, and giving some background regarding the lives of the two correspondents. There’s a certain redundancy to the letters at times, and on the whole, the book isn’t as gripping as some other collections of wartime missives. But overall, this work gives readers a pleasant, inspirational look at young lovers in a bygone era.
A well-curated, if sometimes-repetitive, compilation.