Set in France during WWI, Marion Mitchell, a delightfully brash and fearless young American woman, writes vivid, witty, yet poignant letters home that bring to life the human realities of war.
Volunteering for one of the U.S. relief agencies (AFFW) during WWI, Marion and her sister Alexine sail for France, Marion as a Motor Corps driver and Alexine as a nurse. Their letters and photographs sent home provide a unique perspective on the war. In Marion’s letters, from the tenderness of visiting the wounded in hospitals to her experience of aerial bombs peppering her as she drove, she shares her observations in a riveting yet witty way. She is undaunted, driving with one hand on the wheel while pedestrians scatter. The indomitable sisters braved many difficulties in their work while helping to salvage the human spirit and restore the morale of a war-ridden people.
This was a significant moment for women in American history when women still did not have the right to vote. These fearless sisters, whose story is finally being told after 100 years, were among the 25,000 American women who served during WWI. Their lives were changed forever.
Marion’s letters and Alexine’s photographs are being edited by Alexa Gregory and Vicki Rondeau who hope to have them available in print in time for the 100 year anniversary of America’s entry in to the Great War in 1917, the war to end all wars.
A few quotes from Marion Otis Mitchell’s letters from the back of the front:
“I can’t even imagine leaving here until the war is over unless of course they get to fighting on our own soil. It is the biggest thing the world has ever seen and just to be an infinitesimal part of it, as I am, is a privilege worth a decade of ordinary life.” (Chapter 2)
“When I think of the bridge parties and pink teas of other days, I sighed, it seems incredible that we ever lived complacently through such an era. Shall we ever go back to it again? I wonder…if this war has done nothing else for us, it has jogged a good many of us out of the futile, self-satisfied little ruts we so snugly occupied. And jogged us out, thank God, for all time, I think.” (Chapter 11)
“How enthusiastic they had all been, and how confident of a great victory! And then, somehow, things had gone wrong. The big advance had scarcely covered a kilometer; sixty thousand wounded had poured back from the front in a week’s time.” (Chapter 11)
“They say as long as you hear the shells going over there is no cause for alarm. The one that gets you, you never hear. Still, it must be rather disconcerting wondering when the one with your name on it may be coming along.” (Chapter 12)
“Everything was so placid, with birds twittering and flashing to and fro in the sunshine, and butterflies here and there among the flowers and grasses. It was all but unbelievable that this peaceful valley was bristling with armed men, that every thicket held a menace, and that death stalked by night in the green meadows of No Man’s Land.” (Chapter 22)
“On the way down we had passed hundreds of our boys marching. Little French youngsters were trudging along with them, hot and dusty but determined, each burdened with a gun or a helmet or anything the soldiers would let them carry. Our boys are prime favorites with the kids.” (Chapter 22)
“Most of the time the old bus had been laboriously chugging up the slightest incline on low, unless I could get a run at the hill. In going up a rather steep incline, it slowed down to a stop, and then began to gracefully slide down backwards.” (Chapter 37)