Ringel, Lance. “Flower of Iowa”, Smashwords, 2014.
The Great War
The themes of battle, courage, the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of love fill Lance Ringel’s “Flower of Iowa”. Add to this a compelling love story and we have wonderful way to spend some time. The story is set in France during the last months of World War I. Tommy Flowers is an American soldier and a naïve young man struggling to be a good soldier. He funds himself attracted to
Nicole Lacroix, a young French barmaid. However, Flowers finds himself in a race for her affections with his own Australian lieutenant, Jamie Colbeck. Just at the same time, Tommy becomes friendly with British soldier David Pearson and that friendship develops an unexpected intimacy. Both men are surprised by their feelings and they are also committed to exploring them further, Tommy and David do everything to spend time together, even after David is wounded and sent home to England to return to good health. When Tommy and David are parted again by the war, a compassionate nurse, Sister Jean Anderson, finds a way to devise a scheme by which she will secretly carries love letters between the pair until they are able to get back together.
The novel brings tragedy and hope together and reminds us of the horrors of war. We see a large caste united with excellent research, good storytelling and excellent writing.
I understand that author Lance Ringel first began work on this book in 1992 at the same time as the controversy surrounding President Bill Clinton’s campaign promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Ringel saw a story that examined a relationship between two soldiers set against the backdrop of WWI and it took him on a five year journey across this country so that he could make sure of the historical accuracy of his text. He also went to Europe to visit the battlefields and the countrysides that were settings for the war.
This idea launched him into a five-year journey across America and through Europe in a quest to make sure that his book was as historically accurate as possible. Ringel visited former battlefields across the French countryside and their surrounding towns, as well as numerous museums and libraries in Europe and the United States. He worked on the text for over 17 years.
It is an epic that not explores the American entrance to WWI as well as a romantic story of heroes, loss and friendship. The characters are those that we love to love or love to hate. The war is written about accurately and we sense the danger. I could nitpick about certain flaws but overall this is a great love and war story that takes us away with it.