Prosecco N Prose | A Book Club

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

May 25, 2022 Wendy & Amy Season 4 Episode 38
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Prosecco N Prose | A Book Club
More Info
Prosecco N Prose | A Book Club
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
May 25, 2022 Season 4 Episode 38
Wendy & Amy

Wendy and Amy look at a love at war / Both on the Home Front and a far away shore. / While Jolene's in a battle, Michael fights, too. / Pop a cork to winning at love, part deux.


Show Notes:
Author Kristin Hannah’s Webpage
Oliver Fox’s
article “The Four Pillars of Romance” from Writers Write  Blog.
The Morning Formation Podcast with KP 

Next Episode:  Emery Lee’s novel Meet Cute Diary paired with Borrasca Prosecco Rosé 


Show Notes Transcript

Wendy and Amy look at a love at war / Both on the Home Front and a far away shore. / While Jolene's in a battle, Michael fights, too. / Pop a cork to winning at love, part deux.


Show Notes:
Author Kristin Hannah’s Webpage
Oliver Fox’s
article “The Four Pillars of Romance” from Writers Write  Blog.
The Morning Formation Podcast with KP 

Next Episode:  Emery Lee’s novel Meet Cute Diary paired with Borrasca Prosecco Rosé 


Prosecco N Prose | Season 4 | Episode 38 | Home Front by Kristin Hannah

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Co-hosts: Wendy and Amy

Wendy (W): Welcome to Prosecco and Prose Episode 38.

Amy (A): This week’s prosecco is Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Rosé

W: This week’s prose is Home Front by Kristin Hannah.                        

 * * * INTRO * * *

A: This week’s novel hit way too close to home for us.

W: It did. A story about Army helicopter pilots. A lot of emotions reading this one. I think I ran the whole gamut.

A: It was an overly emotional read for me, but I feel it hit you a bit differently, you being prior military and also in the aviation field.

W: Yeah, we talked about that. But before anyone thinks I’m a pilot, I’m not, I was not, I was a flight medic on the aircraft, I did not fly it.

A: Our husbands are the pilots, and I personally am happy to leave the flying job to them. 

W: So am I! I’ve been in the simulator; I shouldn’t fly. But a job we can handle is trying out this prosecco. Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Rosé.

A: We can most definitely manage that! Now we tried the regular Cecilia Beretta a few seasons ago when we discussed The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

W: Yes! The black and gold label with the black and gold book cover it was just so perfecto.

A: I also recall it being a favorite bubbly of yours.

W: It was. It had a perfumey smell and I love any wine that smells like perfume. I drug Ruffino over to Trader Joe’s because I had to have him try it. Like we took the car out and everything.

A: Ooooh…Such a big deal because you guys rarely take to the road. 

W: I know.

A: Verdict? What was the verdict? Did Ruffino approve? I mean he’s so discerning.

W: He said it was very good.

A: And I feel so overly validated right now.

W: Me, too! I’ve got to say, I have pretty high hopes for this rosé.

A: Maybe this’ll be the one to finally gets a 4.0 from you.

W: Maybe. We’ll see. Okay, so it’s a DOC, Extra dry —

A: Right in the middle of the sweetness levels.

W: Yup. 11%, 3.9 rating on Vivino —

A: Wait! I thought this one was a 4.0 when we bought it? That’s what I have here in my notes. 

W: Yeah, I think it was, the day we bought it, but I just checked, like I just check it. And it says 3.9. So it’s being downgraded. Hmmmm … I have concerns.

A: Well I mean 3.9 is still a great rating. It is. And it’s all subjective anyway, just like literature. Right? Not everyone who rates prosecco looks at the bubbly the way we do.

W: Exactly! Or maybe drinks as much as we do. But anyhow, this Trader Joe’s find was right in our favorite price range, $9.99.

A: Under $10 always feels like a bargain.

W: I know! Anything I missed on the label before we get to the good part?

A: Well, not sure if it was deliberate on your part, but with all of our talk about you not flying and rarely driving, it does say “impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery.” I saw you left that out. And the way you drive, you start off impaired wine or not. Yeah, I’m not…She doesn’t drink and drive guys. 

W:Yeah, I’m not the best driver, but I don’t proclaim to be.

A: No you do not. Guys, she drove one day we went out, just one day way back like ages ago. One day…note that. Ah I mean she warned me that she wasn’t the best driver.

W: I think I only drove because your car was in the shop anyway. Right? But I just wanted you to be aware. I am.

A: So flipping scary…So now when we go out—

W: She drives!

A: Gladly. And you take the bus to the studio here.

W: I do. And really, it’s just easier. It is. Finding parking. You know how it is.

A: Parking here is such a pain. Such a pain. Pain or expensive. Right. Enough of that…you stress me out when you drive…Sorry…let’s get back to our prosecco. Eh…You and me and these damn rabbit holes.

W: I know. Oh my god. So the prosecco…It’s a pale pink, like a blush, in the glass. It’s really pretty.

A: You know it, it is…it’s a very pale pink. Now there was a really, really nice thick mouse on the pour, and I’ve got fine streams of bubbles in my glass. Fine, yet persistent. I mean, we’ve got bubbles friends!

W: Yeah, I’ve got tons of bubbles in the glass. Streams all around the edge. It’s sparkly!

A: Agree…agree…that’s a good adjective. Sparkly…it is sparkly. Oh wow! … Definitely can smell the strawberry in this one. You smell that? The Strawberry?

W: I I actually don’t smell strawberry.

A: Really? You don’t? I mean it’s a bit strong. Put your nose in there. 

W: My nose is in there. I’m getting a bit of citrus, nothing specific, and maybe some ooh maybe some honey. I like the smell.

A: Me, too, very strawberry. I gotta try this stuff. Come to mama my little erdbeir! That’s strawberry in German.

W: Yes, I know. It’s fizzy in mouth, but I’m not getting strawberry, maybe cherry.

A: It’s fizzy, but not nearly as much as I thought it’d be, looking at all the bubbles in the glass. It’s quite acidic, and I’m only get strawberry. Or maybe it’s a red berry. Who knows…

W: Definitely cherry for me.

A: Oooh…no cherry for me. Definitely not!  And I also don’t smell any citrus like you do, but I can taste it.

W: And I don’t taste any citrus. Are we even drinking the same thing?

A: Well I poured it so I thought so! Now the citrus for me could actually be the acidity if you think about it. I mean it’s definitely tart.

W: Yeah, I get the tartness as well. It’s good though. I’m not sure I can say just yet it’s as good as the regular Cecilia Beretta, but I like what I’m drinking so far.

A: Ah…You’re so reserved. Sometimes it just gets on my nerves. It’s good… Wendy JUST SAY IT. It’s good.

W: I did. I’m just waiting to see how it plays out. This is just first sips. We are not playing good cop bad cop… I need to take my time.

A: If you take too much time, you won’t get a second glass.

W: Oh I won’t be taking that much time. I’ll be getting my second glass. I’m watching you.

A: Alright…Today we have a repeat author, Kristin Hannah.

W: We do. Discussed her novel, The Four Winds, which I loved last season.

A: Oh yeah, me, too. And that was also when you told me about this one, Home Front. We were both intrigued and then this season it just seemed to kind of fit so well into our season of love.

W: Though you and I both were like, there is so much to discuss with this one!

A: OMG I know! We could go down so many paths with this one … the military, the readiness, deployments, war itself, think about like reintegration, basic military life, family support groups, all the moves …female combat roles…I mean list goes on... 

W: Just discussing the deployment piece we could go on and on.

A: Maybe we’ll need to revisit this one in a bonus episode at a later date. Friends, let us know if you have any questions about any of those topics, or anything related to this book or the military. 

W: We’d be happy to answer any questions.

A: We know this type of life style so well. But on that note, we thought with Memorial Day this coming Monday, we’d give a shout out to a military podcast we both really really like.

W: Yes, The Morning Formation with KP. Amy, you got me listening to this one.

A: So KP hosts a really interesting podcast…a really informative podcast about military career transitioning, storytelling, and support. He’s interviewed some great military service members and veterans who have just the most memorable stories to tell.

W:  He really does. I thought this was neat, kind-of a tie-in to our prose today, but KP started his Army career as a refueler for an aviation unit in the National Guard. Then he became active duty commissioned through his university’s ROTC program.

A: And Jolene, our novel’s protagonist, was active duty aviation initially and then she switched over to the guard. So they kind of flip flopped.

W: they did…Now KP has a lot of episodes on transitioning out and kind-of helping soldiers to find their place in the civilian world.

A: Yes, and you get these great backstories of their careers as well. What I like is that KP talks to all branches of service, so everyone is represented. Um not just the Army. Right. He did an episode earlier this spring with a gentleman named Don L. Gleason, retired Air Force. And uh Don Gleason was offering advice on figuring out what you want to do after they leave the military. That was a question our book’s protagonist Jolene had to ask herself.

W: She did. You mentioned that one to me, since Ruffino is getting ready to retire, and Gleason talked about not writing your resume first, but to tailor it to what you want to do. Make it specific, not generic. That’s not just good advice for soldiers, but anyone writing a resume.

A: We definitely don’t need to know everything you can do or did do in the past. We want to know what you can do specifically for us. 

W: Exactly. No resume books.

A: Ain’t Nobody got time for that… No…Now one of my favorite episodes, so far, was the one with Earl Plumlee the name was Earl Plumlee…a Medal of Honor recipient. I think it was back in February, but you can just search his name in KP’s podcast. Plumlee’s story was so compelling; it really gave me a heavy heart. You know our lives are better in the USA because of soldiers like Plumlee, yeah…those service members who are willing to face things we can’t even imagine, I know…risk their lives…so we can have this great life. And KP…is one of those people as well.

W: He definitely. That sounds like one I need to check out. A couple I really enjoyed was one about a Marine who made crayons ready-to-eat.

A: How did I miss that one?

W: Who knows. This Marine invented crayons you could eat. What? I didn’t know this, maybe you did, but a nickname for Marines is crayon-eater, Like I knew jar head and he thought, why not have fun with it, and there you have it.

A: I didn’t know that. What are crayons made of?

W: I know there was chocolate, but there may be other flavors now. They hope to get them in restaurants, for the kids, and what a great idea.

A: That is a great idea. I mean no one likes using old broken crayons. When you’re done coloring, down the hatch they go. Kids are always putting them in their mouth anyways. Hey those crayons might go really well with these prosecco rosés …

W: You picking up coloring or giving rosé to kids?

A: Neither, Wendy. Just making an observation if they happen to be laying around while I’m sipping prosecco rose. 

W: Okay Okay…Back to KP…Another episode I really enjoyed was Journey from TBI to Military Women’s Influencer with Althea Williams the founder of She Vets It, a support group for women veterans. 

A: TBI, being traumatic brain injury. Not everyone knows those acronyms.

W: Yes, thank you. Now it was a very, very interesting story and very moving she talked a bit about our topic in the novel, when the mother goes off to war and the father stays back. She said it’s different, which of course it would be, but it stressed her to call home, and I feel like we saw that in the novel with Jolene. Ms. Williams was also saying that women may process it differently you know from a maternal aspect. Oh yeah, I can see that. It was interesting to hear her talk about her experience, you her experience as a mother and soldier and having just read Jolene’s experience.

A: Yeah, I could not imagine leaving my child for nine months to a year as a mother. I don’t think I could do it. So shout out for those who can. 

W: Yeah. So friends, military or not, if you just want to learn more, or if you want to listen to a really interesting podcast check out The Morning Formation Podcast with KP. It, it…I’ve already said this but it’s really interesting and really informative.

A: And drop him a quick rating or review, guys, I know he’d appreciate it. We all do.

W: And don’t forget to rate and review us as well. It really helps our reach and just makes us happy.

A: It does…As happy as a bottle of highly rated prosecco. So our author, Kristin Hannah, I have a fun fact: Okay…SO Home Front was her 20th — 20th! 20th novel that was published in January 2012. At one time it was optioned for a movie, but that seems to have stalled.

W: That would’ve been a good movie. I think so…would have been hard to watch a little bit. So Hannah does a lot of research for her novels and this one was no different. There was a great conversation with Hannah in the back of the book…I literally read the book cover to cover. If there’s stuff in the back…even those they thank. There was this great conversation with Hannah and she had one quote I’d like to share.

A: Share away…

W: First, the novel was inspired by the nightly news, the war in Iraq, and she wondered what it must be like to go off to war and leave your children. She realized she’d never read that story and wanted to, so she wrote it.

A: Wow.

W: Yeah, so here’s the quote that had to do with her research for the novel. You could probably top off your glass; it’s going to be a minute. She said she didn’t come from a military family, nor even know a lot of military families personally, so she said she was woefully uninformed about all of it. She wrote, “Prior to Home Front, I would have said that I understood something about their lives and their service, but I was wrong in almost everything. It’s kind of crazy right? I only understood the thinnest layer. I learned so much. I went to a deployment ceremony and honestly, I think every American should attend one. Watching our military men and women preparing to go off to war, and their families standing alongside to say good-bye, really brings their sacrifice into sharp focus. It’s a powerful reminder that whatever one feels about any particular war, we need to always respect and honor our servicemen and -women and their families. Although, boy, was it difficult. I was humbled by their pride and strength in the face of such an undertaking. It makes you truly consider what heroism is and reminds you to be grateful.”

A: You and I have been to too many ceremonies as spouses, and as support, and I knew when I was reading about Jolene’s deployment ceremony that Hannah had to have seen one. I knew it too. Sounded so familiar and was so well written.

W: Were you just taken there? 

A: Yeah, she did her research. I knew she really did her research. I just remember being at some of Josh’s deployments. That pit in your stomach. I have chills right now. 

W: But and that is something that I really appreciated that about this novel. She did her research.

A: She did. So we’ve already touched on a few things from the book, but let’s give a really quick summary and as you guys know, there’s going to be spoilers. I mean how can you not. Yeah…So the story opens with our favorite a prologue…we love prologues, right and epilogues and epilogues. So Jolene, again our protagonist, I think we’ve said that several times but she was 17 in the prologue and we get a glimpse of her difficult childhood with two alcoholic parents who die in a car crash.

W: Then we meet her again on the morning of her 41st birthday. She joined the military right out of high school and became a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. She did the high school to flight school route. Which is a real thing and not easy to get into. After marriage to Michael and motherhood, um they have two young daughters; Jolene switches over to the National Guard. 

A: Jolene also met Tami, her best friend, in training, and they’re now neighbors in the Pacific Northwest. So they trained on Camp Lewis which made me think Fort Lewis?

W: I was thinking that as well. Yeah, yeah…Jolene and Michael’s 12 year marriage is going through some struggles, it was…he’s a lawyer and doesn’t really support Jolene’s military career.

A: I mean they’re almost kind of living two separate lives. Really. Jolene takes care of the girls and the home and Michael goes to work early and comes home late. You can just see the disconnect. Since his father passed away, he’s really become even more distant.

W: One night, Michael tells Jolene, “I don’t love you anymore.” Yeah the pit…yeah, yeah…Crushed, Jolene wonders what happens next for them, but before she can even begin to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart, she gets the call that their unit, hers and Tami’s, is deploying to Iraq. Which, understandably, causes a lot of drama in Michael and Jolene’s household. 

A: Tons. Now Michael must take over the household duties and caring for the girls, who both begin acting out over their anger and frustration at their mother leaving. 

W: And Michael is angry and frustrated himself. He was he was. Over in Iraq, Jolene tries to paint a rosy picture for her girls, shielding them from the horrors she’s going through and the realities of war.

A: Michael and Jolene they like barely communicate while she is gone, but then Jolene and Tami’s helicopter is shot down. My stomach was like dropping. Yeah. One soldier on board dies, and the rest of the crew is medevac’d out. Tami is severely injured and in a coma, and Jolene loses her leg.

W: Back home, Michael has changed, realizing what Jolene means to him and his family, but Jolene has changed, too. War has changed her and she struggles to find her place back in her family and reconnect with her girls. And with Michael. 

A: And you know Jolene and Michael have not really talked since he told her he didn’t love her. Maybe a few conversations about kids…but really nothing.

W: No, they haven’t. It’s been like eight nine months. So that’s hanging between them as well. She hadn’t had her midterm leave, so it wasn’t eight or nine months. 

A: Hannah touches on PTSD, both in a court case Michael is handling and in Jolene as she struggles to accept her new normal and recover physically and mentally from war. There’s just so much more in this book. As we’ve already mentioned we could discuss and discuss, but we’re looking at the love story this season, so, with that you know…

W: …With that, we suggest grabbing a couple boxes of tissues oh yes and this book and a comfy spot, if you haven’t already read it. I was just going to say that. 

A: Yes, definitely. Let’s talk about some pf the romance tropes we found in this novel. 

W: We found a few. So I was thinking trauma.

A: Trauma? As a trope? Interesting.

W: Might be a stretch, but yes but Jolene definitely had a traumatizing childhood, one without very much love shown to her. Yes. I felt like she sought to heal her past through her relationship with Michael. Her parents constantly fought and argued and separated and always got back together. And Jolene prides herself on having exactly the opposite relationship with Michael. She talks about they don’t even argue.

A: Until he tells her he doesn’t love her and she starts to question how their relationship will be now. Will she be repeating the past she’s worked so hard to change? Yeah, I can see that. Okay trauma On that note, how about betrayal. Yeah. Jolene had to feel so betrayed when Michael told her that. That he didn’t love her anymore. 

W: Oh definitely. And I think we get the sense of that throughout the novel. We see it come up over and over, for both of them. And even Michael feels it’s a betrayal eventually, I think.

A: I think he certainly regrets it. On the flip side of that, I felt like there was soul mates as a trope. For me, these two were destined to be together. I believe in destiny. They had a lot of obstacles to overcome, but, spoiler guys, their love conquered all.

W: I’m not sure I felt they were soul mates, but I know we both thought of first love as a trope.

A: I think it was pretty obvious Michael was Jolene’s first love.

W: I think so. And Michael even remembers how he had fallen in love a little when he first met her and six years later, when she came back, how he’d been young enough to believe in love at first sight. 

A: Oh right. Which is another one. Right. Even though he recognizes they had nothing in common, he felt so loved by her, I think he said that right? Red blue military. Interesting to say it that way, now that I think about it, don’t you think? Like it’s so one sided.

W: Yeah that is interesting. He doesn’t say he loves her. Hmmm…

A: What are your thoughts on shared pasts?

W: Mmmmm … I don’t know. You might need to elaborate on that.

A: Well, this goes along with their first meeting as well. Think about when Michael and Jolene first met, he was her hero…he saved her, helped her, especially after the death of her parents. Then, he was the hero again when he saved Jolene after her return. He finally showed pride in her position, I mean the career she loved and drew her back into his arms. Both Literally and figuratively.

W: So that makes me think a bit more of a hero trope, yes, yes, Michael’s a good guy helping Jolene at 17 and then returns to his good guy status after her return from war.

A: And that makes sense as well. The two biggies for this story though have to be Armed Forces and second chance at love. We just keep pulling this stuff out of our tail. These are the two biggies. 

W: Agree. Even though Jolene in a uniform didn’t exactly win Michael over.

A: No it did not. Her job in the active Army, which she quit for Michael and went to the Guard, created a lot of conflict in their relationship.

W: Yes. And Michael was so completely separate from her career. I had a bit of trouble with that when I was reading. Can you really be that disconnected? I just had trouble buying that.

A: Some people can. I’ve seen spouses who are totally disengaged. Hmmmm. Want nothing to do with their spouse’s career or the mil family aspect. But I feel that second chance at love was really the strongest for me. They fell in love young, but then they had these underlying resentments that slowly drove them apart.

W: We definitely see that with Michael. He didn’t feel like he was able to grieve for his father. No you know, Jolene always believed happiness was a choice, no one could really be unhappy around her, and that’s pretty unrealistic. I mean really. As Tami tells her at one point, she and Michael don’t talk. And they didn't. No they didn’t Not until after the accident when even Jolene couldn’t choose happiness.

A: It was their separation that kind of gave them the second chance at love, mostly for Michael, but for both of them. Was just sad it took such a loss of time, the loss of a leg, and other losses for them to see what they had was special.

W: But sometimes that’s the only way to help people see. You know to appreciate what they have.

A: So true.  So true. It’s a little hard discussing the novel this way. It’s so personal. 

W: It is. You know on so many levels for us. Right. But love stories are also personal, so let’s get to Michael and Jolene’s.

A: Let’s, but first, you have to try this sea salt dark chocolate with the prosecco. I’m telling you, Wendy, it’s the best so far.

W: Really? Okay. You know, I can smell like a mineral salt now.

A: Just try the chocolate. Good Lord. 

W: Okay!

A: Now sip.

W: Oh wow! Oooh your face tells it all. That is amazing!

A: I know. And you’re right, just add salt, you taste salt. Right?

W: Yeah. But not in a bad way at all. Wow. You are right. This is the best so far. If you’ve been joining us on our previous episodes this season, you know we’ve been having dark chocolate with all of these proseccos, but Amy’s also been bringing in variations of dark chocolate in.

A: Got to cover all our chocolate bases.

W: And you have. We’ve had intense dark chocolate, like 92% cacao—

A: I liked that but, I think it was too intense for you.

W: It was. Milk chocolate.

A: Yuck, pass on that one.

W: Agree. Dark chili, dark roasted hazelnut, dark strawberry champagne — that one was amazing! I loved that one. And today this dark chocolate sea salt. 

A: And they are all from Aldi.

W: I’ve got to go to Aldi.

A: You do.

W: Field trip! You’re driving of course. 

A: I would have it no other way. We can actually walk from here. Perfect. But….I’ve got a few more flavors up my sleeve for our last two episodes of the season.

W: I can’t wait I know you can’t. and we’ll definitely have to do a run-down of our favorites in the Epilogue.

A: Oh Definitely. Can we get back to Home Front? How is it I’m the one steering you back on track?

W: We take turns. So to Oliver Fox’s article from the Writer’s Write blog, “The 4 Pillars of Romance,” let’s see how Home Front applies each of the pillars. Right? Okay.  Pillar 1 - The Couple: Lover and Beloved. Jolene and Michael.

A: Definitely yes, but I’m going to divide our story and say that before the crash, in their first 12 years of marriage, Jolene was the lover and Michael was the beloved.

W: I agree. Even though Michael told 17-year-old Jolene to come back in five or six years when they first meet, that really puts the pursuing on Jolene.

A: It does. It does. Jolene really wants to reconnect; you know connect deeper with Michael after 12 years of marriage. I mean the death of his father seems to have widened the gap between them.

W: Well, Michael’s become resentful at always having to put on a happy face. To not be allowed to grieve. He was very close to his father. 

A: He was. And I felt he was seen, or at least it was portrayed that way to me, as the weaker spouse, one who is selfish and not supportive of his strong wife who is in the military.

W: I agree, but I also kind of felt it came across that way because we got to see Jolene’s side first, and we are women, loyalties! But we do see Jolene’s side first, and I think we subconsciously might start to take sides.

A: I see your point, but you didn’t feel that way, if I remember correctly. About Jolene.

W: No, I’m always kind of on guard. You are. I was definitely more sympathetic to Michael. I felt like Jolene kind of smothered him, forced him into the role he was now in, not that he couldn’t have stopped that, but that was my feeling.

A: I couldn’t help wondering if he resented her becoming so strong after he rescued her when she was a kid.

W: That’s interesting, I mean maybe.

A: But Jolene, isn’t giving up. She wants to improve their marriage, but then Michael tells her he doesn’t love her, the deployment is sprung on them. Jolene still wants Michael, she’s willing to pursue him, but looks at the deployment as kind of a separation for them to see what they want. She’s almost too strong for her own good.

W: She’s strong, but also weak, or maybe I should say at least scared, however you want to look at it, to let any unhappiness, or appearance of it, into her life because of what she thinks it will do to them.

A: The problem is, they are unhappy. Right? I mean they can’t hide that anymore. The deployment acts like a bridge, even though it’s early in the book, and then we have the crash. Yeah. Now they have flip flopped their roles in pillar one…so Michael is the lover and Jolene is now the Beloved.

W: Totally agree with that.

A: It was like a light switch went off for her. I mean she feels responsible for the tragedy in Iraq yeah and it really changes things for her. And for how she sees Michael. And their relationship.

W: And and that moment he first sees her in the hospital in Landstuhl. She sees his face, emotion, seeing her, and she’s like, I’m done.

A: He just barged in that room. Everyone tole him to wait. The sounds the smells. But Michael has changed. We see him find his balance while Jolene is away. Refined his footing with his girls and their family. But the PTSD case with the former marine really it just really makes Michael start to look at his wife in a new light. I mean he starts to feel different about their relationship. He starts to remember the love they had and why. His pursuing of Jolene starts with a simple email.

W: One she doesn’t get.

A: No, not for a very long time. They have a lot of stops they have a lot of starts after Jolene comes home, starting with their first meeting in the hospital, I mean Michael’s determined. He’s patient, he’s loving, he’s kind, and we just hope his efforts will get him his girl back.

W: You know with the email…you know when he mentioned it to her. Wouldn’t you have gone  home and opened. It. She had a lot going on. True…we are the Michael. I really liked seeing how both of them were at one point a very strong pursuer and a very wanted beloved. I don’t think we’ve had it quite so strongly played out on each side of the couple yet this season. Do you?

A: Not that I recall. Definitely a strong Pillar 1.

W: Yeah…so Pillar 2 - The Obstacles: Rivals, Taboos, and Loved Ones—Oh My! Lots of obstacles in this one!

A: Like a grocery list. The Army is a huge obstacle.  Michael definitely sees it that way. Jolene having to leave her children is an obstacle. I mean I cannot imagine going off to war and leaving my son. Josh did it so many times. And I saw his struggle.

W: And Michael throws that in Jolene’s face. Hoping that would get her to stay. That the obstacle would be too big for strong Jolene to surmount.

A: Like she had a choice. Like quit…can’t you just quit? Well, caring for the children becomes an obstacle for Michael. Jolene’s done absolutely everything.

W: I think initially, him having to take on the role creates an obstacle of anger towards Jolene for him. 

A: Yes, yes I mean he’s definitely angry for sure. And then, sadly, another very real obstacle was PTSD. Jolene was struggling and not getting help, and Michael was scared for her. He was. Really for all of them. We know this condition better than most. And it is so scary. The mind is a fragile thing and I’m so glad that the VA now treats PTSD with such vigor. I really liked the tie-in of Michael’s court case in the story because it gave us multiple sides of the condition. Yeah… Both the marine’s and Jolene’s. And that was just a couple sides. I mean it affects people so differently.

W: It does and it was interesting and scary to read. Oh absolutely We also have the very obvious obstacle of you know Jolene’s missing limb. 

A: It affects so much of how she feels about herself, it affects how she feels about Michael, and her and together. She thinks he can’t love her that way. That just really made me sad.

W: But how real were her feelings. MMMM…My spouse loved me this way, now I’m this way. How can they love me if I don’t even love me this way? I mean very real feelings. It was a lot right? I was. Moving on to rivals, what do you think?

A: You know…I felt like the Army was a rival. Oooh! I just kept coming back to it. Yeah. Could maybe even look at Michael’s legal career as one, since it started to become his excuse for leaving early and coming home so late.

W: It was something that took them away from each other and the Army I mean really physically took Jolene away. I know it can feel like a rival to me sometimes.

A: Well, there’s a bit of truth in the joke: the Army is your mistress.

W: For sure. Al, right? Taboos? Besides females in combat?

A: Definitely that and maybe more specifically female pilots.  Right. Though not new to us, not everyone is on board with females in these types of combat roles and we saw that in the story. I loved how I felt like I was in the cockpit with Jolene and the crew. Hannah made it so real.

W: Yeah. She brought back some memories! I was lucky enough to not go to war, but I felt some anxiety reading some of the scenes just knowing the job of the crew so well.

A: I bet. I bet. The hospital scene was right down to the smells. It was intense. Like I said. she did her research.

W: We can’t stay that enough. Indeed. 

A: As far as loved ones, Mila, Jolene’s mother-in-law, accepted and loved Jolene from the start. She was definitely a constant in Jolene’s life and never an obstacle. Reminds me of the last Hannah book we did…The Four Winds. 

W: No, she was not. Alright, we may be missing some, some obstacles. but this novel definitely had drama in the obstacle pillar!

A: It did. Makes for an exciting story. So Pillar 3 - The Romantic Arc: Winning and Losing and … Winning Back Again?

W: Okay Jolene and Michael meet, she’s 17, he tells her to come back when she’s older, she does. They connect and marry. They seem to have a close, loving relationship early on, I felt like they did. They did…they did…but Michael is not a fan of the military. He gets her to switch from active to guard—

A:This could’ve been the start of their demise.

W: Very well could’ve been. Michael tells Jolene he doesn’t love her. Jolene loses her beloved and she doesn’t really have a chance to try and win him back, though we do see her thinking of what she can do, because then the deployment happens.

A: And she doesn’t pursue him during the deployment. They have almost no communication, as we’ve said. This is the arc where Jolene is the pursuer, the lover.

W: Yes. I suppose we kind of do have two.

A: We do. So after the crash, the arc restarts, that’s how I visualized it. but with Michael as the lover and Jolene as the beloved. That’s how I visualized it. They meet again, when Michael rushes to her side at Landstuhl hospital in Germany. He’s going to pursue her. Michael loves Jolene and is going to do everything he can to win back her love. He doesn’t win her back, yet, but Jolene sees the changes in him and they grow closer through the healing process.

W: And it's a very bumpy process.

A: It’s a struggle, but Michael does finally win her love back and we have our happily ever after. Our HEA. 

W: I like thinking of it as two separate arcs that way, it kept coming to me that way. Because it really is when you look at the switching roles of our lover and beloved. Haven’t had that this season either.

A: Maybe a little in The Hating Game. A little.

W: Yeah, maybe. I’d say with two arcs we definitely covered Pillar 3. On to Pillar 4 - The Lover’s Sacrifice.

A: Since we had two lovers we had two sacrifices, of course. I mean how could we not.

W: Of course, with a big, very real sacrifice, the time they had to spend apart with her deployment.

A: Michael sacrificed a lot as a military spouse. The kids, did too, but we’re talking about the love story aspect of it. I did love how Hannah had him come around. See the light.

W: Yes. He didn’t appreciate her sacrifice until he was truly faced with it.

A: And Jolene. Besides the physical sacrifice of losing her leg, yeah she sacrificed her pride, showing her weakness and vulnerability. She finally let her guard down and let Michael help her. Let her family help her and be there for her.

W: I think she learned what true strength was. Not always putting on a happy face, not necessarily choosing happiness, but choosing to live and feel all of it. Good and bad.

A: Michael and Jolene had the right goal, yep I think you can agree with me on that yep check. they were strong enough to achieve it. It was important to them to not give up.

W: All of that, yes. Pillar 4 is there.

A: It’s there. We have a perfect pillar story there. A true love story romance with tropes and all. Now I know you had mixed feelings about this novel at first. When we initially talked, you didn’t even know if you liked it.

W: Yeah, and I definitely liked Michael more than Jolene. I don’t know. I was I was king of angry throughout some of it.

A: I was angry with Michael, for sure.

W: No, I wasn’t necessarily angry with the characters, though sometimes I was that as well, but I just I just like I learned things that didn’t sit well with me, if that makes sense.

A: It does. I mean especially to another military spouse. So it wasn’t the writing, but maybe the story. I think it hit a little too close to home?

W: I think so. Yeah. It’s emotional. I did like it more and felt better after I read the author interviews in the back. I really appreciate the effort and work she put in to get it as right as possible. And I understand she’s not going to get everything and it is a work of fiction and I’ve read reviews where people were not pleased, but for me, I think she did her job as a storyteller. This isn’t a work of nonfiction; it’s a story.

A: Exactly, and I agree. Liberties to be taken. I really liked it. It was an emotional read for sure.

W: Very. I’m going to have to read a thriller now. I will join you. How about this prosecco? Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Rosé?

A: Yummy! I did finally get some cherry, it’s like when I breathe out my nose and mouth it’s like a lingering note, … but no raspberry or any other red fruit.

W: Besides the strawberry.

A: Right, besides the strawberry. I think the spicy dark chocolate that we started with, this dark chocolate with the chili brings out like stone. That’s where the mineral is. I think it would also go with strong hard cheese. It’d probably also go with a pungent soft cheese, but it has me thinking hard salty cheeses. Something dipped in syrah.

W: You know the sea salt I feel like all of these rosés would be great with sushi.

A: Yes, definitely.

W: I think this rosè is light and crisp and was absolutely amazing with the sea salt dark chocolate. You’re welcome. Great price point at under $10 …

A: Are we looking at a high rating from the hard-to-please Wendy Wendy Wendy?

W: Maybe. I’m thinking…

A: So I’m giving it a 4.0. This is really, really good! And the label’s pretty and the price, as you’ve said, the price is great. 

W: I agree with all that. I’m giving it—

A:  I’m giving it a 3.9. Do I look like you when I say it like that. 

W: Almost I think I am giving it a 3.9.

A: What?!? Come on!

W: I’m even bumping it up to a 3.95 because of the sea salt chocolate.

A: OMG that a 4.0! Im rounding up.

W: Not quite.

A: I’m rounding up.

W: And I’m inviting everybody back in two weeks for our discussion of Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee, which we’ll pair with Borrasca Prosecco Rosè. Cheers