We are excited to participate in two months of excitement for Mary Kelley’s book The Weeping Angel.
Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto:
The Weeping Angel is such a beautiful tribute to World War I France and to Hubert Williams Kelley. Mary Kelley has done such a lovely job of organizing the letters to share them with the world and future generations. History books cannot move you the way personal letters and accounts of war do. Hubert Williams Kelley's letters are moving, sometimes dark, and often raw in a way that will haunt you.
I cannot imagine what would have happened had Mary Kelley not put together The Weeping Angel. This personal account would have been lost forever. This also makes me wonder how many others have boxes of letters and photos from days long gone. How many of those precious memories will never be shared? The letters in The Weeping Angel were written between 1917 and 1919 and yet, when you begin reading it feels as though you yourself have been transported back in time 100 years and you won't want to return to the present until you've finished the last page.
This book is moving and emotional; an absolutely must read for anyone (regardless of their favorite genre).
About The Weeping Angel
Now, on the Centennial of World War I, Kelley’s wish is realized with the publication of The Weeping Angel, his account of the war in northern France as he lived it. Told through letters and poems, Kelley writes home to his Kansas City family with vivid descriptions of day to day life on the edge of the battlefield. Enlisting right after graduation from Central High, he claims to play the bugle in order to be accepted and proves to be a talented raconteur and observer. Although he could not play the bugle and never really learned, he became the regimental poet of Company D of the Twelfth Engineers and found his true vocation as a writer.
Mary Kelley, his daughter, edited and researched this special collection of her father’s letters over the past six years. With the help of Colonel John Laird’s History of the Twelfth Engineers and research at the National WWI Museum, she has annotated the letters to show the actual path of the unit as they repaired and built light gauge railways to carry ordnance and materiel to the front lines in Cambrai, St. Mihiel and other important battlegrounds in France. Pte. Kelley and the 12th were among the first American troops in Europe and they stayed to prepare for the Occupation for months after the Armistice of November 11, 1918. He returned to Kansas City to become a reporter for the Kansas City Star and later the editor of American Magazine in New York.
The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleurer) is a small statue poised over a tomb in Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral, carved by Nicolas Blasset in 1636. With one hand on an hourglass and the other on a skull, the angel came to symbolize the war to Kelley and the many soldiers who visited it during WW I. He wrote about it in his letters and in 1931 when he recalled one harrowing night lying in a field near Amiens with bombs falling around him. Life is brief, death is imminent.
Tuesday, March 28th @ 5:30pm EST with Cyrus Webb
"Cyrus Webb Presents" is the place where host Cyrus Webb introduces topics and guests that matter to you and today he is chatting live with Mary Kelley about her book “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France”. Don’t miss this show!
Friday, March 31st with Madeline Sharples @ Choices
Author and memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her thoughts after reading “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France” by Mary Kelley. This insightful review is one you won’t want to miss!
The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France
Memoir / Non Fiction / Historical
Paperback: 139 pages
Publisher: Willow Avenue Books (2016)
Posters in Kansas City adorned the army recruitment center: “Join up and be in France in 60 days.” Working as a soldier on the railroads in war-torn northern France during World War I, Hubert Kelley found his vocation as a poet and writer. This is the story of a boy’s journey into adulthood told through his vivid letters home written from 1917 to 1919. The Weeping Angel (L’Ange Pleureur) statue in the Amiens Cathedral came to symbolize the sadness of war to him and his fellow soldiers, and he visited it often. His poems and selected later writings are included in this volume.
“The Weeping Angel draws on one of the richest surviving collections of First World War letters to bring to life one of Uncle Sam’s most remarkable—and thoughtful—doughboys. In this compelling book, Mary Kelley restores the human story to one corner of an inhuman war. Whether they’ve read one book about the war or fifty, readers will be surprised and engaged by The Weeping Angel.”
—Christopher Capozzola, author of Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen
“It’s a wonderful book with so much compelling material…Kelley’s essay, ‘A Memory of Amiens,’ is extraordinary. The Weeping Angel rescues a wonderful voice from the period, as well as the story of a remarkable regiment that is too little known.”
—Steven Trout, author of On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941
About Mary Kelley
Mary Kelley, editor of The Weeping Angel, is a former Broadway theater manager, non-profit arts administrator and consultant with The Field Organization, LLC. She has written in the genres of memoir and fiction. This is her first published book. She lives in Somerville MA.
You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.