I have been a member of a writers’ group for many years. We started out as a group who wrote for children but over time we have morphed some. We write poetry, novels, non-fiction, science fiction, young adult and children’s stories, and poetry. We are incredibly fortunate to have in our midst a singe male who is a science and science fiction writer, illustrator and graphic designer willing to put up with the rest of us. There are times when we function as a therapy group as well.
Two years ago, we lost Nancy Phillips, one of the most talented among us. She left behind the manuscript for For the Duration, a powerful novel based on her childhood experience. With the help of her husband, a close writer friend, the writers’ group and our talented token male, we are publishing Nancy’s book next month.
Perhaps her story lay untold until now for good reason. It resonates with the current world situation with such gentleness yet strength, that it could not be more appropriate for our time. It ranges widely, addressing the love of neighbors for each other, the touching nature of a friendship between a young boy and girl that endures for a lifetime, and on a larger stage, with issues of race and gender prejudice and the acute pain that can result from a government obsessed with fear to the point where it does, in Phillips’ words, “stupid things.” War-time hysteria caused internment of American citizens of German descent and even resulted in deportations in order to obtain freedom for high-level Americans caught behind enemy lines in Germany.
Eight year-old Claire is called upon to care for two brothers, one a newborn, and basically run the household when her mother suffers from severe depression and her father is away at his war-related job seven days a week. When her close friend and neighbor, Carl, and his family, who are of German extraction, suddenly disappear, Claire is heartbroken and wonders all her life what has happened to them.
This experience drives the course of the novel which opens years later when Claire’s granddaughter finds a ring in the attic given to her by Carl more than 50 years ago. “I was nine. It was my first engagement ring,” she tells her granddaughter.
And so the story unfolds, enhanced by Phillips’ skillful dialogue and her ability to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. Claire’s interior monologue enriches the tale. Warning: tears likely.
For the Duration will be available on Amazon.