HEART ON HER SLEEVE [The Women of WWII Mysteries] by Clarence Budington Kelland

An outstanding golden age mystery classic & one of the most important books about women of World War II!

"Bright and breezy sabotage and romance with plus appeal for murder-mystery-spy addicts. S.E.P." —Kirkus Reviews

Not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into the Second World War, the government realized the draft would seriously deplete the country’s entire workforce, including entry-level labor, skilled trades, office staff and management. The only possible replacement was to be found in the ranks of the nation’s women. But for women to join the workforce, major changes would have to occur.

Traditionally characterized as an emotional and caregiving labor force—homemakers, mothers, nurses, teachers and the like—women would have to adopt a whole new view of themselves and their capacities (as would men of them), and quickly. In a world without TV or internet, a radical revisioning of woman’s capabilities would have to be promulgated via radio, newspapers and magazines. So the U.S. government called together leading writers and journalists, asking them to help by printing and broadcasting stories, novels, and factual reports supporting the heretical notion that women could make great factory and office workers—and even run those factories and offices—without losing their “natural” urge to be homemakers, mothers, and wives.

This effort “to recruit women into the labor force,” as Nancy F. Cott writes in Women and War, was the “major propaganda campaign” directed toward American women during World War II. “To make war jobs look attractive … magazines published romances in which women who entered defense industries found fulfillment in performing work for the nation.” In such tales, the heroines “were rewarded for their dedication to difficult jobs with admiration from their communities and love from desirable men.”

This campaign began in the May 29, 1943 Saturday Evening Post with a two-part kick-off: exploding from the cover, Norman Rockwell’s overpowering, goddess-proportioned painting of Rosie the Riveter in overalls, with a touch of lipstick and blush, a rivet gun balanced across her thighs, a look of unflappable nonchalance, the Stars and Stripes unfurled behind her, and a copy of Mein Kampf crushed beneath her feet. And, to her left, boxed text beckoned readers to discover the initial installment of “A New Kelland Serial—Heart on Her Sleeve." The story of a patriotic American college girl who steps up to run her father’s war plant; and when he is hospitalized by saboteurs Heart on Her Sleeve was the first novel written and published in response to the government’s request that “authors portray women war workers as enthusiastic defenders of democracy” and “bring out the spiritual satisfaction of serving the common cause.”

"This book will make you laugh and giggle, it will also make you start in horror and shudder, and it will wrap up nicely and sweetly. A lovely mystery! It [is Fall 1942 and] young Miss Andree Senlac is arriving home fresh from college with a diploma tucked away. She is surprised she graduated, and contemplating her mental faculties, wondering if she is brilliant, or semi-smart, or maybe stupid and was just lucky. If any smarts are to be had, she must keep it a secret and pretend to be naive and a fluttering butterfly, for any girl who is smart must hide it. Stepping on the platform to greet her dear parents, who own [a small factory helping produce the shells for bombs], she also spies a homely but striking man in Navy uniform – and here the merry lark begins. He detests redheads. She is out to prove he loves them – well, one of them. And there is also a baffling mystery concerning sabotage at the factory, the attempt to murder her father, and Nazi sympathizers and employees in the town. If you pick up this book, you will not regret it!" —Goodreads 5-Star review

"A fast moving tale of attempted sabotage, violent attack and spirited romance." —Freeport Journal

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About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland is a legendary Golden Age author of mystery and romantic suspense. Kelland penned some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest-paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. His trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans would likely disagree. There is nothing second-rate about his work.