Courage of the Heart: An American Odyssey Book Review3 min read
“In that whole week, I don’t think I ever saw them kiss or say they loved each other. Their bond was deeper than that, built on a lifetime of struggles and pain that was not quieter or simpler, or more orderly, as I had once thought.”
Author: Christine Chatterton Published: 2016 Pages: 258
This book is based on a true story. It details the lives of Haidee and Maurice Chatterton. They met in 1915 at the Prairie City Picnic and from then on they were destined to spend the rest of their lives together. Through the book the reader can experience how the pair had to endure the pain of war, the heartbreak that came with it and how their devotion to each other was tested endlessly. It definitely serves as a fresh reminder of the horrors others had to endure in order for us to live how we do today.
The author, Christine Chatterton, is the granddaughter-in-law of Haidee and Maurice – they were her husband’s grandparents. She only met them a handful of times before both of their passings, but after they had both died, she found a box of letters written by Haidee and Maurice before, during, and after World War I. These letters are dispersed throughout the book along with some helpful dialogue and narration from the author in order to tell us the story of their lives and the lives of their families.
I really loved how authentic the dialogue and narration was throughout this book. I very much felt submerged in the early twentieth century. There were a few phrases and terms that were questionable as to their use in this time, but overall it didn’t affect how the characters were portrayed. I think there’s often a worry with non-fiction that the story will not be exciting enough without the creative freedom and embellishment of fiction, but that certainly wasn’t true for this book. Each page brought a new challenge for the characters and as a result I kept turning the page.
The devotion between Haidee and Maurice was very much evident. If their letters weren’t enough to convince the reader, then the scenes created by Chatterton, based on the events which happened, certainly helped reinforce it. I also loved how easily the narration blended into the letters as if they had been written by the same person. It definitely helped keep the pace of the book as I wasn’t suddenly confronted with a change of tone.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and frankly it warmed my heart to learn about this true story. While there were a few (minor) flaws in Chatterton’s writing, her storytelling ability is undeniable. She helped me understand what both Haidee and Maurice must have gone through, and in doing so, I really felt strongly for them both. This book, if nothing else, is a constant and heart-felt reminder of our past, and also the unfaltering power of love.
Thank you to the author Christine Chatterton for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.