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As Always, Jack: A Wartime Love Story

by Emma Sweeney

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769325,400 (3.96)5
Biography & Autobiography. Military. Nonfiction. Near the end of WWII, a Navy pilot meets and falls in love with a beautiful California girl. They have a brief two weeks together before he is shipped off to the South Pacific. This is an engaging collection of his letters, Compiler the daughter he never got to meet. Full of poignant detailâ??a chronicle of the passions and fears of wartimeâ??the book is the ultimate love story of America's "greatest generati… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Will review on my blog 7/16. ( )
  lakesidemusing | Apr 28, 2013 |
As Always, Jack by Emma Sweeney is an epistolary memoir in that letters from Sweeney’s father to her mother are shared with several sections of explanation from Sweeney, herself. After just 11 days together, Jack and her mother corresponded for a year and a half through letters as he went off to help stabilize the Pacific following WWII. He wrote 45 letters to her mother over seven months in a oddball courtship that showcase her father’s wit and humor as well as his constant devotion.

In many ways the correspondence allowed the young lovers to get to know one another more intimately without the awkward face-to-face interactions. They learned about their religious beliefs and their thoughts on infidelity when she tells Jack of her boss’ infidelity with one of the dental assistants. Emma found her father’s letters to her mother after her mother’s death in the back of a drawer, but she never knew him in person as he died before she was born.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/07/as-always-jack-by-emma-sweeney.html ( )
  sagustocox | Jul 12, 2012 |
Decades after her father’s plane goes down in the Atlantic, Emma Sweeney “meets” the pilot father she never knew through letters saved by her mother from the early days of their courtship. After her mother’s death, these letters — hidden since Emma’s childhood — give her a glimpse at the funny, charismatic and devoted man with whom Beebe had her sons and daughter: Emma herself, born after Jack’s death during the Cold War.

Jack met Beebe Mathewson in Coronado, Calif., just weeks before he was sent overseas with the Navy. Stationed in Hawaii and Tsingtao, China, Jack and Beebe’s nascent relationship begins with his acknowledgment that he’s utterly smitten with her — and their love only strengthens in the following months apart. In Emma Sweeney’s As Always, Jack, a collection of her father’s letters from 1946, we read only his missives to the beauty he left in California — but the affection between them is clear. It would have been wonderful to read Beebe’s letters, too, but they’re nowhere to be found; Emma notes that her heartbroken mother likely destroyed them after her husband’s death.

For me, the highlight of this short-but-sweet collection — published with a prologue and epilogue explaining family history and the letters’ significance — was learning how Emma felt about the father she never knew. Growing up, Emma’s questions about her family’s origins went unanswered. After her mom remarried when Emma was small, she was told to refer to her stepfather as “Dad” and her biological father as “Jack.” It made sense, I guess . . . considering her dad was gone. But it left Emma with a hole in her heart.

It’s hard to imagine Beebe’s heartache at having lost the love of her life — especially when no one could explain what became of him. Originally written off as “lost in the Bermuda Triangle,” the case was considered closed after the ’50s plane crash. It’s only in adulthood that Emma discovers what really became of Jack. When she finds her father’s letters, tucked away in a drawer, she knows intuitively that her mother left them for her alone to discover. It’s not hard to imagine they’d been hidden away for quite some time — a relic from a simpler time in Beebe’s life, before everything in her world went dark.

Though Jack’s letters to Beebe make up most of the book (and I enjoyed them), I found myself more interested in Emma’s childhood and the mystery of Jack’s plane crash. Here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure most of us have a stack of letters just like Jack’s somewhere in a family attic. I grew up hearing stories of my great grandfather, a World War II veteran, and all the letters he wrote from China when my grandmother was young. I’ve held quite a few in my hands, actually, and talked about my great grandfather’s adventures abroad. Those letters? They’re treasures. My great grandfather’s descriptions of life in the service, the Kodak camera he purchased on the black market in China, the obvious love and devotion he had for his wife and daughter at home . . . they bring tears to my eyes. And Jack’s seem much the same.

Though the missives are likely reminiscent of many written in the 1940s, maybe that doesn’t matter. As Always, Jack is a pleasant read, one I devoured quickly; I chuckled a few times, shed a tear once or twice. I can’t imagine being Emma in that time following her mother’s passing, saying goodbye to one parent while just “meeting” another for the first time. Jack’s letters are a treasure for the Sweeney family — absolutely — and if you’re a World War II buff (though these were technically written after the war) who enjoys epistolary love stories, Sweeney’s collection is a heartwarming way to spend an afternoon. ( )
  writemeg | Jul 10, 2012 |
Emma Sweeney has spent her life wondering what her real father must have been like. From time to time, she could gather moments in time from her mother of what their courtship and marriage must have been like because he died before she was born. Her mother didn't like to talk about Jack much but when she did, Emma could tell she had fond memories of him. Yet somehow it still seemed like something was missing, a part of him she couldn't know until when her mother died from complications of heart disease, did she come across 45 precious letters detailing their love during the course of a year and a half while he was at war.

It is through those letters that Emma learns of the man her father was, how he viewed the time he spent with her mother, that he lovingly refers to in his letters to her as Blonde! It takes the reader into a different time and place, when letters home from those serving in the war, show just how valuable communication was from those they longed to hear from. She learns how Jack spent his time serving as a Navy Pilot from Texas as he moved from base to base and what he did to pass his time away.

Emma shares those letters in the memoir, As Always, Jack, a World War Two Love Story. Here we get to see how just one simple photograph is enough to anchor a man who doesn't know when or if he'll make it home and how weeks can go by without hearing from home. Yet it's through their faithful letter writing that they got to know one another and how it fanned the flames of love and gave Emma a rare insight into the man she never knew but got to know through his love letters to her mom.

I received As Always, Jack by Emma Sweeney compliments of TLC Book Tours and Axios Publishers for my honest review. Being a huge WWII history lover, this book resounded within me as well as a hopeful romantic who gets an inside look at what one man wrote to his girlfriend to keep him going through a very long war. It's beautiful, warm, and often times funny at how he talks to Beebe, with one of my favorite lines in a letter closing being, "Is you is, or is you ain't my Beebe?" Now I know just how important communication from home is for those serving in the war and my heart aches for those who may not have anyone to write home to, and why letter writing campaigns to our serving men and women is so vital today. I rate this memoir a 5 out of 5 stars and thank Emma Sweeney for sharing the love of her father and mother with all who read these words. ( )
  ReviewsFromTheHeart | Jul 9, 2012 |
Emma following the death of her mother stumbles across a series of letters which were sent from her father to her mother in their courting days, at the backend of World War Two. After 6 months of corresponding, they had in reality only spent two weeks together. Upon being decommissioned and returning to the States Jack immediately visits the father of his sweetheart to ask for consent to marry. They did marry and had a family together, the author Emma was still being carried by her mother when her father died. To all intents and purposes, Emma did not know her father, but as she grew up developed a picture in her mind of the type of person he was. The letters that she found enabled Emma to flesh out the character he had. Emma does in order to find more answers about her father's life visit his family home, and meets several Aunts and the area where they grew up. I would have liked to have explored that a bit further, and perhaps there is scope for another book....The book overall was an enjoyable one, this edition had some lovely illustrations and background paper reinforcing that this book was essentially a series of letters, from an era when communication was about writing letters, involving pen, ink, paper & stamps and not our modern methods.

This book also made me think of my grandparents. They married in September 1939 and by November of the same year my Grandfather was in the Army stationed in Africa. There is very sadly, no letters from this time of separation, in fact there was very few photos, not even of their wedding. There is one though which I have inherited of my Grandfather in a relaxed portrait with written, on the back "Your love one, George X" ( )
  AnglersRest | Jun 1, 2012 |
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Biography & Autobiography. Military. Nonfiction. Near the end of WWII, a Navy pilot meets and falls in love with a beautiful California girl. They have a brief two weeks together before he is shipped off to the South Pacific. This is an engaging collection of his letters, Compiler the daughter he never got to meet. Full of poignant detailâ??a chronicle of the passions and fears of wartimeâ??the book is the ultimate love story of America's "greatest generati

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