Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post: This is How I'd Love You by Hazel Woods

Please join me in welcoming author Hazel Woods to Let Them Read Books! Hazel is touring the blogosphere with her debut historical fiction novel, This Is How I'd Love You, a story of love and loss during World War I. This book is generating a lot of buzz, and I can't wait to read it! Hazel is here today with a guest post of how her great-grandparents' love letters inspired This Is How I'd Love You, and she's brought along a copy to give away! Read on for your chance to win!

Book Description:

As the Great War rages, an independent young woman struggles to sustain love—and life—through the power of words. It’s 1917 and America is on the brink of World War I. After Hensley Dench’s father is forced to resign from the New York Times for his anti-war writings, she finds herself expelled from the life she loves and the future she thought she would have. Instead, Hensley is transplanted to New Mexico, where her father has taken a job overseeing a gold mine. Driven by loneliness, Hensley hijacks her father’s correspondence with Charles Reid, a young American medic with whom her father plays chess via post. Hensley secretly begins her own exchange with Charles, but looming tragedy threatens them both, and—when everything turns against them—will their words be enough to beat the odds?

The Letters
by Hazel Woods

I’ve been surrounded by the myth of the letters for almost as long as I can remember.  Love letters between my great-grandparents, people I’d never met, but whose legacy I unknowingly carried.  First, they were kept in a trunk in the garage, awaiting my mother’s empty nest years.  She’d wax on occasionally about her grandparents—Margaret, the elegant, engaging, fashionable, eccentric wife to Edward, the family radical, a newspaperman turned gold mine manager turned lawyer.  Eventually, on my weekly long distance phone call home from college, I was told they were finally being transcribed, from the looping black ink on yellowed paper into a tidy Microsoft Word document.  Someday I hope somebody reads them, my mother told me wistfully.  It blurred in with the rest of her wistfulness and I rolled my eyes in my dorm room, even as I sat down to pen a letter to my own long-distance love, who would one day become my husband.  Ah, irony.

Hazel Woods
Later, when I was given a locket that had belonged to my great-grandmother, my interest was slightly piqued.  It is gold with a single pearl on the casing and tucked inside are their youthful portraits—she on one side, he on the other.  She treasured this, I was told, as a remembrance of all the possibilities of their young love.  I gladly wore the locket, occasionally staring at their faces and wondering about their lives.  But by then those letters, transcribed and neatly bound, occupied a shelf in my mother’s closet, as well as some kind of symbolic acquiescence to her sentimentality that I continued to resist.

Accidentally, I came upon a later letter, written in 1908 after their marriage and the birth of two of their three children.  They were living in Hillsboro, New Mexico, a small mining town where my great-grandfather had relocated the growing family from New York City, purportedly for health reasons.  My great-grandmother writes to her mother-in-law in Germany of the chores of motherhood with optimism and good humor.  Her voice is strong and endearing, but having known that she was raised in a city and that she had dreamed of living abroad or joining the bohemian, literary society of New York, I knew these circumstances could not be what she’d hoped for when she married.  Of life in Hillsoboro, she tells her mother-in-law, “...as to the bugs and biting things in general the chickens are splendid to keep the way clear of them and we have a most intelligent old cat with 6 little kittens and they will take care of all the snakes that might venture near.  We have put linoleum on the floors and I was the power behind a brush and can of paint.”  This voice inspired the creation of Hensley Dench and THIS IS HOW I’D LOVE YOU.

Later, after I’d written an entire novel in some way borne by the still unread love letters, I delved into the tidy binder.  As endearing and passionate as their letters are, there was one bundle which was even more illuminating.  Confirming what had up until then only been rumor was a stiff envelope containing all the paperwork related to the US government’s indictment of my great-grandfather in 1918 on charges of treason.  Because of two articles he wrote in a small press in southern New Mexico opposing World War 1, he was forced to prove his allegiance to this country. He had written of the injustice of “a rich man’s war (being) a poor man’s fight.”  Without consciously knowing it, I’d recreated a fictional version of my great-grandfather in the character of Sacha Dench.

How strange and marvelous that a life, as well as a fiction, can be influenced by the unknown ancestors of our past.  The words left on the page long after the heart has stopped beating confirm that young love, even a hundred years ago, was felt no less ardently than it is today.  In one of their love letters, my great-grandfather wrote to my great-grandmother, who at the time was still just the object of his affection:  “Never ask me to let you go in favor of someone else, because you may know beforehand I’ll shout ‘no’ with a thousand canons.  I warn you I decline to be the hero of a short story.”  Well, Mr. Tittmann of 1905, she never let you go, but your very essence is here in the pages of this novel and you are, indeed, a hero.

Wow, that is a great story, and a great line, "I decline to be the hero of a short story"!
Thanks so much for sharing, Hazel!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!


Wanna win a copy of
This Is How I'd Love You?

Simply leave a comment on this post with your email address, and you're entered!

This giveaway is open to US residents and ends at 11:59pm Monday, September 22, 2014. Winner will be selected at random.
Thanks, and good luck!

This Is How I'd Love You is on a blog tour!


  1. This novel is captivating and unforgettable. What a wonderful giveaway. Many thanks for this great feature and giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. What a wonderful feature which sounds enthralling and fascinating. The story and the locale are vivid and intriguing. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. I love to read about the Great War and love letter writing. It sounds fantastic and what a beautiful cover!


  4. I can't wait to read this book! It sounds just fascinating (and I also love the cover!).

  5. I loved reading about Hazel's story and how she decided to write the book. Thanks!

  6. Great post, so interesting, would love to win a copy :)
    d_stevens310 at live.com

  7. just read Lies Told in Silence, so would be fun to compare with this one. thanks for the giveaway. Emma ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  8. Would love to win & read this
    mgifford01 @ snet.net

  9. Sounds like a wonderful story. I'm adding the title to my wish list. WWI era is a favorite HF setting.

  10. I really would love to read this book. It sounds fascinating.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  11. What a wonderful cover. It caught my eye immediately. Would love to read this book.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  12. I am so excited to read this. Thanks for offering it as a giveaway. je2kids(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. It must be amazing to have letters that your grandparents wrote - this sentence made me smile - "Never ask me to let you go in favor of someone else, because you may know beforehand I’ll shout ‘no’ with a thousand canons" - I'm enjoying the blog tour - funmail07 AT gmail DOT com

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Lovely cover! I love reading about people writing letters, a lost method of communication. I'd really enjoy reading this novel!
    alto1jr @ hotmail dot com

  16. I would love to read this book, it sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for having the giveaway.



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