Dear Fellow Reader,
I have talked before about how impressed I am with the imagination that some writers have. To create stories out of thin air is quite an accomplishment. Especially if the story is very strange. (See my review on Things in Jars by Jess Kidd.) The last two books I have read have been in the interesting story line category.
I had read Kathleen Rooney’s previous book, Lillian Boxfish takes a Walk, a few years ago. I was also able to see her in person at my local library. I enjoyed the book and was interested in how Ms. Rooney came up with the plot. (The story was based on a real person, Margaret Fishback. Ms. Rooney, through a friend had access to Ms. Fishback’s files.)
Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is the second book by Kathleen Rooney. I knew nothing about the book when I picked it up. Okay, this book, while interesting has very different main characters. As you may guess from the title, the main characters are Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. Cher Ami is, at the time of the story, a stuffed homing pigeon that is on display at the Smithsonian. Yes, you read that right. A stuffed pigeon. But she is a famous pigeon. (I bet you didn’t know that there were famous pigeons.) Cher Ami was a homing pigeon during WWI and was used by the American Troops to relay messages between the front and the headquarters. In her role, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal by the French and an Oak Leaf Cluster.
Major Whittlesey was a real Major during WWI. The battalion that he led was the “Lost Battalion” in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He was awarded the Unites States Army Medal of Honor.
The book tells the story of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey’s lives and (apparently) Cher Ami’s post life as a stuffed pigeon in the Smithsonian.
Okay, the stuffed pigeon part is odd. But an interesting take on the story. Yes, WWI is a main component of the story, but it isn’t your typical historical fiction story. Until I just looked, I didn’t even think of it as being historical fiction. I just thought it was fiction. So, if you are sick of historical fiction, I think that you will find this book to be refreshing. Being partially written by a pigeon is certainly different.
And if you don’t like stories with more than one narrator because it is hard to keep them straight, you won’t need to worry about that with this book.
Overall, I liked the book. I thought it moved a little slowly sometimes and there are a lot of characters in the war scenes. I learned new things about pigeons that I never knew before. The primary thing being that Cher Ami was misnamed. She was mistaken to be a male pigeon when she was a female pigeon. (This will be brought up more that you can imagine in the book.) There is humor in the book also – it is far from just a book about WWI.
Thanks for reading.