Good Night, Irene

Hachette Audio. May 2023. 13:26 hrs. ISBN 9781668617007. $31.99. F
Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Urrea (The House of Broken Angels) illuminates the lives of the spirited Red Cross workers charged with serving coffee, doughnuts, and smiles to soldiers on the front lines of WWII. Fleeing an abusive fiancé, New Yorker Irene Woodward turns her back on familial expectations and joins the Red Cross Clubmobile Service. There she’s paired with Dorothy Dunford, who has packed up her family’s Indiana farm and is looking for a life of her own. The two head overseas and support troops across Europe with Red Cross–approved snacks and mandated good cheer. Barrie Kreinik narrates the story, providing a cultured, composed voice for Irene and a brisk, no-nonsense tone for Dorothy. Kreinik is less successful with British accents, but listeners will probably be too invested in the story to notice. Kreinik ably communicates the women’s fear when faced with bullets and bombings, their sadness at seeing the soldiers wounded and killed in battle, and their bone-deep exhaustion at the end of each day. These women may not have wielded weapons, but they made a difference with their unflagging energy and heart.
VERDICT A deftly narrated account from an exquisitely talented writer. Highly recommended for all historical fiction collections.
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