We are excited to participate in two months of excitement for Mary Kelley’s book The Weeping Angel.
Book Review by Michelle Del Ponte:
Reading “The Weeping Angel” by Hubert Williams Kelley has changed my heart a bit. In the letters from Kelley, he shares vivid descriptions about the war and casualties around him. Yet, he is forbidden to give out to much information, to prevent putting anyone in danger. What got my heart, was in every letter he notes who he has heard from. In the beginning of the book he wrote many letters stating that he has not heard from home. It was heartbreaking for me to see. I think we tend to move on with our lives and forget about all the men and women risking their lives for us. WWI took approximately 11 million military deaths and 7 million civilians. It was among one of the deadliest conflicts in history.
While most of us have seen movies, pictures, or reenactments where we can picture the mass causalities left around, it is not a reality for us, thankfully. In one letter however, Hubert writes of a man who spend two days with the corpse of his brother. The man could not fathom to leave his brother, even if it meant the loss of his own safety and life.
Instead of an overabundance of gruesome details about life around him, Kelly shared stories of excitement on getting to go out on the town in Paris. He asks his family for some money to spend, because his money is all tied up on insurance. Unable to get a response to the money requests after multiple attempts, Kelly tells his family not to worry about it He assured that he would figure it out himself. I can only imagine the disappointment and anxiety he must have felt, thinking his family could not help.
One of the few comforts Hubert appeared to have, was seeing friends and acquaintances he knew from home. He acknowledged his meetings in several letters. I also giggled as he attempted to help his sister find happiness with a decent guy. Some things never change, no matter how far apart you are, in time or space. I truly enjoyed this book. I hope you do as well.
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 21st @ Bring On Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto talks more about “The Weeping Angel; Letters and Poems from World War I France” in her 5 star review of this unique book by Mary Kelley. Don’t miss this blog stop!
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.
Michelle DelPonte is a busy mom and health care worker. Her two sons are the focus of her life and she works diligently to raise awareness about autism in the community. She loves reading, anything to do with history and geocaching just to name a few of her many hobbies. Michelle, her husband Ben and their two sons Sebastian and Asher live in Manitowoc, WI on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan where they enjoy walking and biking on the Mariner’s Trail and spending time at the Library.