Her book jacket set the tone, a departure from the usual, romantic introduction:
A Message from EMILIE LORING to Her Readers
We are at war. At the very hour its envoys in Washington were discussing a pacific settlement of differences a nation treacherously, devastatingly struck at our defenses.
They call this a mechanistic age but no machine has been invented that will equal the human spirit in the scope and glory of its accomplishment when it feels the fierce compulsion to right a wrong to its country. Never before in the history of civilization has it been challenged as now when the foul monsters, savagery, butchery, rape, torture and slavery have been loosed on the world.
By indifference, by procrastination, citizens of the United States can retard, even paralyze, the fight of their own country and of the United Nations to throttle the forces of evil and to bestow or restore to all the peoples of the earth the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Conversely, by whole-hearted co-operation they can make that fight end in victory, that ideal a living, glowing reality.
If circumstances deny us the opportunity to express loyalty and patriotism by heroic acts, burning eloquence, by service on the home front, we can express it by buying our country’s War Bonds and Stamps, proof that we stand heart, soul and purse behind the valiant men who are taking our place at the front and in the factories which are pouring forth materiel that will keep our forces fighting on land, in the air, on and under the sea. Heroes of Lexington and Concord. Valley Forge. Pearl Harbor. Bataan. Corregidor. We can’t let those patriots down. Buy War Bonds as they never have been bought before.
From housetops, from crossroads, from market places proclaim to the enemy that this great nation is united in its determination to exterminate forever the Powers of Evil now stalking the world. This is your war. Enlist in the citizens’ army. March on to Victory.
Buy War Bonds and Stamps… a sound investment for your country and yourself
The United States was not yet a year into World War II in September, 1942 when Emilie Loring began When Hearts are Light Again. She set this story at the Clifton Works, a plant charged with turning out more and safer airplanes but beset with suspected sabotage.
From time to time came a rumor that a paratrooper had been seen descending in a township and the inhabitants would turn out en masse to hunt, with no results.
Pilot Gregory Hunt wants to even the score in the Pacific where he was shot down. Instead, he is assigned to discover the source of faulty airplane parts coming out of the Clifton Works. Gail Trevor is his friend’s kid sister and a secretary at the Works. She gave up a Washington, D.C. job to take care of her brother and his two children, because their mother enlisted. Slinky Lila Tenney is Greg’s social-climbing fiancé.
In the months since Rainbow at Dusk was published, the United States Navy had suffered defeats at Bataan and Corregidor. Thousands of Marines had been killed or taken captive by the Japanese, including my cousin, Corporal Werner F. Jensen, of the 4th Marines on Corregidor. Werner was taken prisoner and transferred to a Prisoner of War camp where he and the other men endured ill health and horrendous treatment. Anxious families awaited news that didn’t come or was sometimes wrong.
Emilie provides news about Vance Trent and Johnny Grant from Rainbow at Dusk, an unusual appearance of Emilie’s characters in two books:
“Isn’t that a letter sticking from your pocket? Why not sit here and read it?
“It’s from Jess Ramsay,” she explained eagerly… ‘Vance is back, terribly thin, the skin of his drawn face looks like leather and so grim that until he caught me in his arms I wondered if he still loved me, but he’s whole. Aunt Ellen and I flew to Washington to see him receive his decoration. The men he had trained came through so magnificently he has been detailed to head the parachute instruction division at a camp here. Am I happy? I’m telling you. Remember Johnny? He’ll not come back–ever.'”
The need for men was endless. Emilie’s sons had both served in World War I but registered for the “old man’s” draft for men up to age sixty-four. In November, the minimum draft age was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen.
“Fat chance I have of having a beau for years, with all eighteen and nineteen boys to be taken into the service and nothing but the fifteen-to-seventeen kids left.”
“The new draft law does thin your stagline, doesn’t it? I hadn’t thought before of what it would mean to girls of your age.”
Wartime called for sacrifice, and Gail longs for a flame-colored frock and groceries with equal enthusiasm.
There was a flame-color frock in the shop window… It was net, glistening with opaline sequins, a honey of a dress… She hadn’t had a new evening costume for two years. She needed one.
Americans received ration books containing removable stamps for rationed items like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. Each purchase required a stamp, and when the stamps were gone for that week, no more could be bought. This meant careful meal planning and creative substitution.
“How can I stretch a broiler to serve five persons, two of them men, not to mention Billy, who, when it comes to appetite, figures up to three more?”
“You should worry. A huge prewar steak came with the flowers–I thought for a minute it was a mirage–also frozen asparagus and the biggest, whitest, plumpest mushrooms you’ve ever seen.”
[Confession: For the longest time, I didn’t recognize the implied hyphen and thought “prewar” (which I mentally pronounced proo’ ər) was a kind of steak, like porterhouse or rib-eye.]
Paper was another rationed commodity, as Little, Brown acknowledged on the book’s paper jacket and defended:
The format of this book is designed to save paper, which is now rationed, as well as other materials. In 1941 this volume would have been larger, or thicker, or heavier, and perhaps all three of these, and might have been set in a larger type face with wider margins to the page. The size and the weight of books have increased steadily since the end of World War I; now, in World War II, the process must be reversed. But the value of a book is not to be measured by its dimensions or its weight, though it is important that it be printed in clear, readable type. What does count is its content, whether it provides good entertainment or sound information to the reader, whether it stimulates the mind, whether it is first class of its kind.
It was true. Where Beauty Dwells (1941) weighed in at 18.8 oz; When Hearts are Light Again at 15.5 oz. Saving paper also meant publishing fewer titles, and Emilie Loring’s reliably optimistic novels were among the chosen.
This Company’s policy of publishing “fewer and better books” has never been more strictly followed than during this period of world crisis. We hope you will find this book helpful or entertaining. If you do not wish to add it to your permanent library, why not give it to a member of our armed forces?
BUY WAR BONDS AND WAR STAMPS… GIVE BOOKS TO THE VICTORY BOOK CAMPAIGNS
When Hearts Are Light Again succeeded in the entertainment department. The book was published in August of 1943 and required five printings by December. Greg’s broken engagement, Gail’s multiple suitors, a saboteur in plain sight, a mystery man in hiding, teenagers trying to grow up too soon, and an impetuous leap into marriage set a rapid pace against the uncertainty of war.
“That ring feels real. But, I wish, how I wish from the bottom of my heart that it hadn’t been. Tell them, Greg, why we did this crazy thing.”
Emilie wrote the story in record time, beginning in September and finishing before Christmas. She had a purpose in its theme, a call to service at home and staunch support of the country’s fighting forces.
“I’ll remind you of what the President said the other day. ‘Victory cannot be bought with any amount of money, however large. Victory is achieved by the blood of soldiers, the sweat of working men and women and the sacrifices of all people.’ I’ll add, on my own, and the absolute loyalty of each worker to his or her job.”
Hopes hung on news from the front. Every victory encouraged; every defeat was disheartening.
“Everyone is tense now, Aunt Jane, and will be till the time comes when hearts are light again.”
“When hearts are light again. That’s a thought for anxious days and wakeful nights. Just the sound of the words lifts the weight from my spirit and reminds me that the skies always clear.”
It would take three-and-a-half years, one of the longest recorded durations of captivity, but Werner Jensen was released from the Japanese POW camp at war’s end. He returned to the United States, married his pre-war sweetheart, and lived a long and peaceful life.
“Happy?” a husky voice inquired… Her breath caught. Her eyes, wide and shining, met the caressing laughter of his in the mirror.
“My heart’s so light it’s fluttering round the room on little silver wings. Hear it?”
“I’ve caught it.”
When Hearts Are Light Again