If you like to read Christian fiction, Chapter a Week is a great way to sample writers whose work you may not have discovered yet. It is simple to join. Just send an email to ChapteraWeekfirstname.lastname@example.org. After you’ve signed up, you’ll get an email each Friday with an excerpt from a CBA novel. Here’s an example from the May 27, 2005 Chapter a Week post that excerpted one of my books.
THE VICTORY CLUB
by Robin Lee Hatcher
(Tyndale House, June 2005)
Is God truly in control, even in a time of war?
In 1943, the women of America banded together to make a life for themselves while their husbands and sons fought overseas. Even as the men engaged in war, these women faced battles of their own on the homefront.
Margo, Dottie, Lucy, and Penny never expected to face the hardships they must now find a way to conquer. But through the power of Christ, and the power of friendship, perhaps this Victory Club will achieve more than any of them could ever have imagined.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my victory.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
As had become her habit over the past two months, Lucy Anderson met her friends for lunch in the tiny break room at the back of Building B-301. They each spread cloth napkins over their laps before opening their lunch boxes, but no one seemed hungry enough to eat. So there they sat, lost in their grim thoughts while the cold February wind buffeted the building.
It hadn’t taken long before everyone on the base—and in town, no doubt—knew that a major battle for control of Northern Africa was raging. The importance was clear, even to civilians. Tunisia must be taken. The Allies needed the location for a refueling stop once the bombing raids began over Europe. The previous year had seen many defeats. Each woman in that break room longed to see a victory.
Finally, Lucy could take the silence no more. “Is this what it’s going to be like for the duration of the war?” She didn’t try to hide her exasperation. “Must we expect the worst to happen to the people we love?” She looked from one woman to the next. “Can’t we act as if we’re women of faith? I mean, either God’s in control or He isn’t.”
Seated across from Lucy, Margo stiffened as if she’d been slapped. “Perhaps you wouldn’t say that if your husband was in Africa instead of England.”
A different sort of silence strangled the room.
“Oh, Margo.” Lucy shook her head. “I didn’t mean my words to sound heartless. I just want to encourage us not to lose hope.”
But perhaps Margo was right, Lucy thought as she lowered her gaze to her lap. She wanted to believe she would hold onto hope, no matter what, but she hadn’t been tested. Richard had spent a good many months stateside before he was sent, late last year, to England. If he’d flown missions over enemy territory, he hadn’t told her so in his letters.
“You know—” Dottie folded the wax paper around her uneaten sandwich— “I think Lucy’s right. Just about everybody we know has a loved one serving in the military. We know people are dying. That’s a reality of war we can’t escape. But we can’t give into fear and despair. We can’t. If we do, then the enemy’s already won.” She held out her left hand toward her mother and her right hand toward Lucy.
Thank God for you, Dottie. Lucy took hold of the younger woman’s hand and gave it a squeeze. Then in a similar gesture, she held out her free hand toward Penelope.
After a moment’s hesitation, Penelope mirrored the action.
“Oh for pity sake,” Margo grumbled. But finally she completed the circle.
Lucy looked at each of her friends. “From this day forward, I promise to pray faithfully for you and your loved ones. I promise to ask God for protection and guidance and to cause us to lean on Him, no matter how long this takes. I promise to be there whenever you need me. And I’m not just going to pray for the Allies to have victory. I’m going to pray that each of us will have personal victory over the enemies we face. Over our fears, our faults, and our failures. That’s my promise to you.”
“So do I.”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Good night, Mr. Pratt,” Lucy said she descended the bus steps.
“Good night, Mrs. Anderson. Have a nice evening.”
With a whoosh of air, the door closed, and the bus drove away.
Lucy walked swiftly in the opposite direction, planning to stop at the corner market before returning to her apartment two blocks away. Shortages and long lines were becoming a common sight at grocery stores these days, but thankfully, Lucy wasn’t after meat or sugar. Her needs were simple since she cooked only for herself.
A few minutes later, she entered the Bannock Street Market, closing the door behind her, glad to escape the frigid night air. She shivered involuntarily. “Brrr.”
“Evening, Mrs. Anderson. Cold out there?”
She turned toward the counter where Howard Baxter, the proprietor, stood. “It certainly is, Mr. Baxter. I’m more than a little ready for spring to come.”
“Couldn’t agree more. Need any help?”
“No, thanks. I know what I’m after.”
He gave her a warm smile, then turned his attention toward some paperwork.
Lucy pulled her list of shopping items from her coat pocket and headed down the first aisle. It didn’t take long to find the few things she wanted—eggs, cheese, an onion, a bottle of ketchup, a loaf of bread.
When Lucy carried her items to the front of the story, Howard glanced at them and said, “I worry about your diet, Mrs. Anderson. You don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.” He raised an eyebrow. “Would you like a couple cans of green beans? We received a shipment of them today.”
“How kind, Mr. Baxter. Yes, I believe I would like some.” Green beans were not among her favorite vegetables, but she didn’t say so to Howard Baxter. It felt nice to have someone care about whether or not she ate right, even if that person was only the man who ran the corner grocery store.
“How was your day?” Howard asked when he returned with the cans of beans.
The grocer nodded in understanding. “I’ve kept the radio on. The news coming through hasn’t been good. Is your husband in North Africa?” He rang up the purchases as he spoke.
“I don’t think so.” Lucy gave her shoulders a slight shrug. “Richard was stationed in England the last I heard, but I haven’t received any mail from him in several weeks. He could be anywhere by now.”
“The not knowing is awful hard.”
She nodded in agreement. The not knowing was hard. But, she wondered, would it be easier if she knew he was in Africa? Would she prefer to be in Margo’s place, knowing someone she loved was right in the thick of battle? No. No, she wanted Richard out of harm’s way for as long as possible. She wanted him to live through this war and come home. She wanted him to hold her in his arms and kiss her on the lips and love her until they were both old and gray.
She looked up through a veil of unshed tears. “I’m okay,” she whispered.
“If there’s anything I can ever do for you…” He allowed his words to fade into silence.
“No, there’s nothing you can do, Mr. Baxter, but thank you for offering.” Lucy lifted her shopping bag and cradled it to her chest. “Will you put this on my account?”
She thanked him again, then left the store, still fighting tears of loneliness.
Robin Lee Hatcher
From her heart … to yours!
Award-winning author of more than 45 novels including
BEYOND THE SHADOWS, VETERANS WAY, and LOVING LIBBY (August 2005)
Copyright 2005, Robin Lee Hatcher. Do not reproduce without permission.
THE VICTORY CLUB (Tyndale House) will be available on-line at Amazon.com, B&N.com, Christianbook.com, etc., and in bookstores everywhere in mid-May, 2005.
To purchase autographed copies or for more information about books by Robin Lee Hatcher, visit her web site at www.robinleehatcher.com