Book Review: THIS IS HOW I’D LOVE YOU by Hazel Woods

02_This Is How I'd Love You
Publisher: Plume
Released: August 26, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

As the Great War rages, an independent young woman struggles to sustain love—and life—through the power of words.

It’s 1917 and America is on the brink of World War I. After Hensley Dench’s father is forced to resign from the New York Times for his anti-war writings, she finds herself expelled from the life she loves and the future she thought she would have. Instead, Hensley is transplanted to New Mexico, where her father has taken a job overseeing a gold mine. Driven by loneliness, Hensley hijacks her father’s correspondence with Charles Reid, a young American medic with whom her father plays chess via post. Hensley secretly begins her own exchange with Charles, but looming tragedy threatens them both, and—when everything turns against them—will their words be enough to beat the odds?

THIS IS HOW I’D LOVE YOU is a bittersweet love story set during World War I. Early 20th century historical fiction is a favorite of mine, and the author did an eloquent job of bringing this turbulent time to life on the pages. The complex main characters, Charles and Hensley, form a powerful connection through letters sent between the frontline in France and a remote town in New Mexico. Charles depends on Hensley’s words to keep him sane amid the horrors of war, and in return, his letters give her something to focus on besides her uncertain and possibly bleak future.

It was easy to be drawn in by these characters, and I loved reading their letters and watching their relationship develop. Unfortunately, Charles and Hensley weren’t always truthful with each other, and they withheld secrets out of fear of driving the other away. Then tragedy strikes on both sides of the Atlantic, and they’re forced to face the truth head on. The first part of the book was a bit slow-going, but I really got into the story during the second half. Overall, this book was an emotional read for me, and my heart went out to the characters. I only wish there had been more correspondence, because the letters were my favorite part.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.