The true story of a soldier, a pacifist, and the woman who loved them both
In June 1964, Ann Garretson skips her college commencement to tour Europe with Lieutenant Jack Sigg, a tank commander on the German-Czech border, with the hope of returning as his fiancé. A month later, her best friend, Terry, proposes marriage—by mail—throwing all their lives into turmoil.
Jack offers the military life Ann grew up with. Terry, a conscientious objector, will leave for the Peace Corps at summer’s end, unless the draft board intervenes and sends him to jail. Her dilemma: she loves them both. Caught between the old mores and winds of change, Ann must make an agonizing choice.
In alternating voices, A Rendezvous to Remember presents firsthand accounts by the two who eventually married, enriched by letters from the rival, whose path led him elsewhere. Provocative and delightfully uncensored, this coming-of-age memoir is a tribute to the enduring power of love and family.
I’ll be honest, I don’t often read non-fiction books like memoirs. However, when I was offered a copy of A Rendezvous to Remember to read for the book tour, my interest was piqued. What happened between Ann and Jack to make them say goodbye? Did Terry join the Peace Corps before marrying Ann? What were the sixties really like for those that were trying to hold on to old fashioned values and those conscientious objectors who didn’t agree with war?
The only problem I had reading this book was the formatting which I am sure will be fixed before printing or formatting for ebook.
The story is written from a dual perspective and I really loved reading the same stories from each side. Ann is from a religious background and although it’s the swinging Sixties, she’s still trying to get over her nun-like background. There were quite a few times during the story of Ann and Jack that I got frustrated on poor Jack’s behalf! Terry is more of a free spirit and much more free with his favours. It seemed that on every other page whilst he was declaring his love for Ann, he was remembering a past love. It was quite difficult to keep track of what was present and past when this happened and I had to flick back and forth to figure out what had happened.
I loved the sprinkling of historical commentary about real-life events happening at the time; the description of how they all found out about JFK being assassinated, the Civil Rights Act signed by President Johnson and underneath it all, the underlying unrest regarding unions and equality was eye-opening.
I wrote the first half of this review as I was still reading it. I’ve now finished it and wow! This book is just a wonderful re-telling of a love story, I now know what happened to Jack (no spoilers, read it for yourself) and how Ann and Terry ended up getting married and enjoying a life doing good works. The big annoyance throughout the book was that I kept forgetting this was the sixties and so Ann’s family’s judgements on who she should be marrying, what she should be doing in her spare time etc. really began to grate on me – especially her brother Bonner who was Jack’s best friend and was running around Germany acting how he wished. Once I kept remembering that’s just how it was back then, I stopped being mad!
I feared for Terry everytime the draft was mentioned. In the UK, conscription ended in the 1960 so although the US was involved in a war and needed men, the draft is not something I was familiar with or had really researched before. Knowing what we know now about the Vietnamese War, it wasn’t something to be wished on anyone and the draft was not popular (well, from what I gather from this book).
Overall, I loved this journey between the couple. As said above, we know how it ends but the book detailing all that happened between them over a couple of years was truly beautiful, even more so when you realise a lot of it was done via letter! No mobile phones back then. I enjoyed hearing about Terry’s rise in journalism for a local newspaper and sympathised with Ann and her teaching career in Glendale (it made her seem more real).
If you’re after a trip down memory lane with two writers who know what they’re doing; read this book. I’d love to hear more about their life, especially in the peace corps and how each assignment came about and how they coped raising children through it all.