For the Duration, a book review

Book cover by Gary Raham

For the Duration by Nancy Phillips launched in December. Seen through the eyes of Claire, as a young girl during the build-up to World War II, and later as mother, grandmother and eventually a widow, this powerful novel is based on a real experience in Phillips’ life.

Phillips died in 2016, only a day after she voted. At the time, the manuscript of For the Duration lay stashed in a drawer. Phillips was devoted to the act of writing — something she did all her life. She seldom cared about publication.

Perhaps her story lay untold until now for good reason. It resonates with the current world situation with such gentleness yet strength, that it could not be more appropriate for our time. It ranges widely, addressing the love of neighbors for each other, the touching nature of a friendship between a young boy and girl that endures for a lifetime, and on a larger stage, with issues of race and gender prejudice and the acute pain that can result from a government obsessed with fear to the point where it does, in Phillips’ words, “stupid things.” War-time hysteria caused internment of American citizens of German descent and even resulted in deportations to obtain freedom for high-level Americans caught behind enemy lines in Germany.

Eight-year-old Claire is called upon to care for two brothers, one a newborn, and basically run the household when her mother suffers from severe depression and her father is away at his war-related job, seven days a week. When her close friend and neighbor, Carl, and his family, who are of German extraction, suddenly disappear, Claire is heartbroken and wonders all her life what has happened to them.

This experience drives the course of the novel which opens years later when Claire’s granddaughter finds a ring in the attic given to her by Carl more than 50 years ago. “I was nine. It was my first engagement ring,” she tells her granddaughter.

And so the story unfolds, enhanced by Phillips’ skillful dialog and her ability to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. Claire’s interior monologue enriches the tale. Warning: tears likely.

Readers will understand why they are indebted to Nancy’s husband, Wayne Phillips, Nancy’s close friend and writer Linda White, graphic designer Gary Raham, the small group of writers who comprise Penstemon Publications, and most of all Nancy Phillips, for bringing this story to life.

It is available on Amazon.




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