Basically, it just worked.
We have not one, but two incredible heroines--actually three. We have the modern-day Lily who is recovering from a tragic loss and has this thing for saving stray cats. But what is really remarkable about her is her compassion for others. Despite the grief afflicting her, she has room in her heart and enough love in her soul to help an old lady, a perfect stranger. The historical story is about Natalia, how she grows up in Stalin's Russia and becomes a fighter pilot during the Great Patriotic War. (We call it WWII). Through her eyes we see what everyday life was like during this time--the fear, the arrests, the paranoia, the backstabbing, the subway tunnels, the brainwashing, the scarcity of supplies. This was probably my favorite thing and I learned so much from this story.
The third remarkable woman is Sveltana, Natalia's aircraft mechanic. She's loyal and wishes to atone for a sin. She goes above and beyond...
There's also a romance, but while it's passionate and paced wonderfully--not too fast, not too slow--it does not overshadow the importance of the issues within the story. We don't have a heroine here whose sole goal in life is just to find a man and fall in love. There is SO MUCH MORE. I can't stress that enough. (I want to thank my blogging partner Shomeret for coming up with that line in italics. It's something she said to me this last week regarding a different book altogether and the line stuck in my head.)
My only complaint...I don't really see what the cats had to do with anything. A lot of the story was devoted to cats and I couldn't see how that tied in. I really don't see how the modern-day heroine tied in with the fighter pilot either, but I liked her story regardless.
He simply asked if I didn't think the brooch was too precious to take into combat. I answered him, "I'm precious and I'm going into combat!"
I bought this book on Amazon Kindle. Photos are from Wiki Commons.