I discovered the novel This Is How I’d Love You totally by accident. I was searching for books about the history of chess. Among the selections was this World War I-era story about chess players. After being matched, the correspondents share some details about each other’s lives, but the main purpose of writing is playing the game. Each man enjoys the chess challenge and is very good at it. Although they have never met, they like and respect each other.
Sascha Dench is a journalist at the New York Times who is very much against the U.S. entering World War I. In fact, he’s penned incendiary opinion pieces–and they have cost him his job. Charles Reid is from a wealthy New York business family. Unwilling to join the family firm, he enlists–much to the ire of his father. He is now serving as a medic in France, confronting war’s horrors and adjusting to life as a soldier.
Meanwhile, Sascha Dench is at loose ends. His independent-minded daughter Hensley, a seamstress, has recently graduated from school. However, she is facing her own serious problems. Deciding that a new start is in order, her father accepts a mine supervisor job in New Mexico through a distant relative of his late wife. Hensley goes with him–feeling alone and very unsure of what to expect in an unfamiliar part of the country.
One day, Hensley intercepts a letter from Charles to her father. She writes back, and encloses her letter with her dad’s reply. In addition to telling Charles about herself, she includes descriptions of their new home, and a few sketches and doodles.
Charles responds, and he soon looks forward to the family’s letters. On some days they are what keeps him going. “Your words have become as necessary to me as my own heartbeat,” Charles tells Hensley. His words are just as vital to her. When tragedy strikes, they are there for each other. It isn’t long before they fall in love through their correspondence. However, Charles and Hensley still have to dig deep to reveal truths about themselves. As they journey toward each other to meet in person, their relationship is strengthened even more.
This is Hazel Woods’ first novel. I can’t wait for the next one! And I hope it will be just as beautiful. Here is an interview with the author.