As I’m in the middle of our American History Through Christian Fiction series, I felt it would be helpful for me to post a review of one of my favorite series because it spans two of our upcoming posts. You may or may not have heard of it as it’s out of print now and you won’t find it on Amazon Kindle. But Judith Pella’s Daughters of Fortune is a four-book series that spans the American entry into WWII through the dawn of the Cold War, crossing all three fronts of the war. From Los Angeles to Soviet Russia and the Philippines to Manzanar, this series does a fantastic overview of the 1940s through the perspective of the three daughters of newspaper publisher, Keagan Hayes, all named for the boys he wishes he had. Cameron, for his father. Blair, for his brother. And Jacqueline (aka “Jackie”) because his wife, Cecilia finally protested.
Unlike other series, the books, though they follow the stories of three separate characters, cannot be read independently of each other. Despite which daughter is depicted on the cover, each book contains part of an ongoing story.
Cameron’s story begins as she finally decides to stop trying to please her father, who refuses to let her go as a foreign correspondent for his paper to Russia. Instead, he gives her rival, Johnny Shanahan, the opportunity. So Cameron goes to work for another paper, the Globe, whose editor IS willing to send her. She and Johnny begin a game of cat and mouse across the western front until they finally land in Moscow, Russia in the midst of another German bombing. Cameron finds herself caught on the streets, alone and confused as the air raid sirens blare. That is until a Russian man comes to her aid. And wonder of wonders, Dr. Alex Rostovscikov speaks English! It’s a doomed romance in the making. A Russian citizen and member of the party, who lost his faith somewhere along the way has no business falling for an independent, American journalist.
Blair’s story began before the first book. As the middle child of Keagan and Cecilia, she never tried to gain her father’s approval, rather, she lived it up under the stars in Hollywood as a chorus girl. Except, she just might be willing to give up her wild ways after running into Lt. Gary Hobart at her father’s fiftieth birthday party. He’s tall, dark, charming and as homespun as they come. He’s also a Christian, and Blair grew up avoiding her mother and younger sister Jackie’s church talk. But for Gary, she would put on the performance of her life. Until his orders come in – he’s going to the Philippines – and he asks her to marry him. Now the question is, who does he love? The lie or her? When Gary finds her out, Blair goes to the ends of the earth (or the other side of the world) to make her marriage work. But all that effort lands her in the midst of a losing battle against the Japanese, and poor Gary on the frontlines.
Jackie is the youngest of Hayes sisters, the only one to adopt her mother’s faith, and least likely to cause any kind of trouble. Except, after the departure of her sisters to the other side of the war, she’s left on the home front, pursing her teaching credential and making friends with another UCLA student named Sam Okuda. Only one problem, he’s Japanese. And in the wake of Pearl Habor, a Jap’s a Jap, and neither Jackie’s friends nor her father hold fond feelings for a boy with his looks. But Jackie and Sam’s friendship is made of stronger stuff than prejudice. Only – will it carry them through as they search out someone who might actually marry an interracial couple? And will their shared faith sustain them when Sam is sent to Manzanar?
I think everyone has a favorite of the three sisters in this story. My personal favorite is Cameron, but Blair is a close second. Whoever yours turns out to be, however, there’s never a dull moment. Pella fleshes out these characters just beautifully. There’s such great heart to this story. Now, I will say… it may take a few chapters to really capture you, but persevere! If you’re a romantic, you’ll meet Blair’s Gary within the first few pages of Written on the Wind. And then, given a few chapters, I think that’s when you run into Jackie’s Sam. It takes a bit before you meet Cameron’s Alex, but there’s some fun tension with Johnny along the way. Just have patience. These characters will be around for the long haul. Four books worth of fantastic tension, great storytelling and some pivotal (non-preachy, I promise) spiritual moments.
And you do have to hold out for the fourth book! There are little victories and happy endings along the way, but in the first book, you’ll meet Cecilia Hayes, and she has a heavy secret she’s carried around with her for years. It turns out, she has four children. There’s a son – a brother – that the girls have never met, and it’s up to Cameron to find out what happened to Semyon. It all comes together in Homeward My Heart.
I will always recommend this series to anyone who enjoys WWII fiction. It has completely captured my heart, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Personally, I believe that this series should be turned into a tv show. Maybe that’s just me. But if you appreciated my casting choices from the photos above for the Hayes girls, you should let me know. If you can think of other actresses who would better fit the roles, in your opinion, you should also let me know!