AVN Book Club: Seized By The Sun

by - November 27, 2017

Vintage Blogger

I always get asked how I find the time to read. As you saw from my post, Be Inspired: Books Make Great Friends, reading has always had a special place in my life. And I always believe if something is important to you, you will make time for it. I sneak in a few pages here and there as well as on the weekends and in between homework with the kids. It can be done, albeit slowly, but it is possible.

One of the books I have been reading in collaboration with the Chicago Review Press is called Seized by the Sun: The Life and Disappearance of World War II Pilot Gertrude Tompkins by James W. Ure. I love reading personal stories and I think it goes back to my fascination with people in general. I was excited to learn more about Gertrude Tompkins who came from a very wealthy background, struggled most of her life with a profound stutter, and flew planes with the WASPs during World War II. 

The book delves into Gertrude's personal life and struggles but at the core of it all is her disappearance. On October 26, 1944 Gertrude flew a P-51 Mustang on a routine mission and was never heard of or seen again. Out of the 38 missing WASPs who lost their lives, she is the only one who is unaccounted for. 

The early chapters deeply explore her upbringing and her life long struggle with stuttering. Gertrude Vreeland Tompkins was born at Jersey City, New Jersey, 16 October 1911. She was the youngest of three daughters of Vreeland Tompkins, founder of Smooth-On, Inc., and Laura Towar Tompkins. Her father, Vreeland was a very successful businessman but he suffered from a stutter that was much more severe than hers. He desperately wanted his daughter not to suffer the same as he did and had Gertrude undergo various new treatments at an early age in the hopes that he stutter would be cured. 

I loved reading about her love for reading, college education, and world traveling. Despite the Great Depression, Gertrude was very lucky to travel the world and obviously was in no rush to be married. She did supposedly fall in love once and it is assumed that it is this relationship that inspired her to take flying lessons. What baffled me was how much care and detail when into delving into her early portion of her life and how much less information there was during the time she was in the WASPs.

The author does state that they were able to meet with Gertrude's sisters and many of her friends that were in the WASPs. Of course sadly all of those wonderful ladies have since passed but I couldn't help but feel that no one really knew why she joined or who she was really. I get the impression because of her stutter she was quiet and introverted and she seemed to have a great work ethic both in school and out. She seemed determined to enjoy her world traveling and took enjoyment from her independence. At the last portion of the book I learned a lot about the WASPs and about airplanes as well as what it may have been like for her, but the mystery of her disappearance left me haunted and wanting to know more.

Gertrude abruptly married someone she didn't love supposedly to please her parents yet told none of her friends about it. She disappeared about a month after the marriage took place so her sisters wondered if she possibly took off and started a new life elsewhere. There have been many in-depth searches conducted through the years lead by Gertrude's grandniece and absolutely nothing has been found. This is a mystery that may never be solved.

I do have to say that I really enjoyed getting to know Gertrude and she seemed like someone I would have enjoyed being friends with. I think you would enjoy getting to know Gertrude as well. Stay tuned for a giveaway of two copies of Seized by the Sun.

Fashion Bloggers
World War II
1940's Books
Book review
Seized by the sun
Women of World War II
**In collaboration with the Chicago Review Press**

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