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 singlehandedly 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.
The Fire By Night is a historical novel that tells the story of two military nurses near the end of World War II.
Jo and Kay are best friends who met in nursing school. They both signed up as military nurses during the war. Jo is taking care of six seriously injured soldiers in a military tent in France, near the German border. Kay is in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Manila.
The Fire By Night details the horrors of war, as seen through these two nurses' lives. It is often dark, but also manages to be uplifting as we see the strength of human endurance.
Historical fiction is my favorite reading genre, and I read a lot of books set in the 1940's. I found The Fire By Night very unique because of the perspective of women involved in the war effort. I have never read anything like it, and found the book both moving and thought provoking. It would make a great book discussion group read!
The book is beautifully written, with well developed characters. I liked the way the novel moved back and forth from Jo's perspective, and then Kay's. These are characters I cared about and I really wanted to see them survive and find happiness after the war.
I recommend The Fire By Night for other fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in the 1940's and World War II.
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 received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins.