#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Dennis and Greer: A Love Story” told through a young couple’s letters & correspondences edited by Greer’s daughter Molly Gould

Posted Tuesday, 3 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I crossed paths with Ms Gould in 2015 in the twitterverse wherein we had a convo about the book she was writing which contained a series of letters & correspondences which would knit together a real-life love story about ‘Dennis & Greer’. At the time, I hadn’t realised Greer was her mother and how incredible of a story this would turn out to be! In July 2017, Ms Gould re-contacted me to see if I was still interested in reading the book – to which I happily replied I am! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Dennis & Greer: A Love Story” direct from the editor Molly Gould in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On wanting to read ‘Dennis & Greer’:

In July of 2015, I had a conversation with the editor of this Epistolary Story: Molly Gould. She had found me on Twitter (where most of my readers find me as I am bookishly chatty!) whilst finding a post I had written about reading Epistolary stories – something which comes up every now and then as I blog my reading life here on Jorie Loves A Story. She was talking to me about how she was ‘writing about a love story in letters’ which truly captured me at the time, as I was still holding memories of ‘Letters from Skye’ within my heart.

She had mentioned to me ‘My book tells the story of 2 youth from the moment they lay eyes on each other until the boy is killed in the Vietnam War.’ To which I had replied ‘What an epic love story! quite sad too, but bet there is an uplifting twist because of the letters left behind, etc. *evoking!’

After this short exchange, we parted ways – her to finish editing the book itself and I left hoping to hear back from her once the book was drafted for publication. In July of this year, Ms Gould re-contacted me announcing her mother’s story was finalised and ready to be shared with the world: “Dennis and Greer: A Love Story” would be published this October. She asked me if I was still interested in reading their story and if she could send me an ARC; to which I happily agreed knowing the curiosity was going to stay with me until I finally did indeed read how Dennis & Greer connected before he died.

There is something to be said for ‘letters & correspondences’ – for all of us who have put our lives and heart into exchanging letters with those of whom live far away from where we are – we know the truth about how letters can transform our lives and enable us to make strong connections to those of whom we correspond. When you purport this outside of friendship directly, letters have a way of conveying an emotional bond far quicker than a traditional relationship because within letters you can share your innermost thoughts and soulful perspectives without the fear of misunderstandings. Letters operate on a different time scale than ordinary vocal conversations where a quickness is necessary to maintain the pacing – letters, of course, ebb and flow over time – where patience and thoughtfulness outweigh quantity of thought.

This is also my second book to read of this nature – as the first was “3,000 Miles to Eternity” which talks about the real-life love story of a modern couple who met through both traditional and non-conventional means to write their own story of love in the 21st Century. If you appreciated reading my review of their story, you will enjoy reading my takeaways about Dennis & Greer – as although the two couples are separated through war and times of peace (approx. four decades to boot!) – they each share one major thing in common: they connected to each other through the words they wrote and exchanged – drawing them closer to each other with each bit of correspondence they received.

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#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Dennis and Greer: A Love Story” told through a young couple’s letters & correspondences edited by Greer’s daughter Molly GouldDennis & Greer: A Love Story
by (Editor) Molly Gould
Source: Direct from Editor

A true story that encapsulates the horrors of war and the innocence of young love.

Buried in a trunk for fifty years, this long-forgotten tale, told through letters and journals from the war-torn Vietnam era, has been resurrected.

College students, Dennis and Greer, met and felt a spark just before moving to different states. Their witty correspondence through letters conjured a desire to meet again, but Dennis tried to keep his distance; duty is more important than love.

Dennis joined the Marines against Greer's wishes, but he tried to win her heart before going to war. As the two embarked on their journey into adulthood and navigated their relationship against the backdrop of war, they were writing a love story that will span the test of time.

This nonfiction that reads like fiction is perfect for lovers of memoir, historical romance, and historical fiction.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-0692919910

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Non-Fiction

Published by Belle Reve Press

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 324

About (Editor) Molly Gould

Molly Gould

Molly Gould lived in the wilderness for 28 days when she was 16 years old (she’s your go-to-girl in the zombie apocalypse). She now confines herself indoors, AC full-blast in sunny AZ. Occasionally, she’ll brave the scorching heat with her husband and four children.

Molly is an ASU graduate and the editor of Dennis and Greer: A Love Story.

When Molly inherited a treasure of vintage journals and letters from the Vietnam era, she was swept away by the love story and coming-of-age tale contained within those writings. She couldn’t keep the story of Dennis and Greer to herself, so she began transcribing and Dennis and Greer was born.

Notes ahead of Reading ‘Dennis & Greer’:

In the Introduction, Ms Gould explains how the letters came into her possession (her Mum had passed due to Cancer and the letters were part of her inheritance) whilst giving a humble overview of how Dennis and Greer affected each others’ lives long after their romance ended. In many ways, you could tell how interesting this new chapter of insight was for the daughter – to re-look at her past, seeing new revelations in her memories and understanding her mother’s life with newfound knowledge of what truly made her happy in love. Reading this Introduction you gather the sense Greer was never quite as herself as she was with Dennis but she made do and moved forward all the same.

“Please do not read this book unless you were young once. Some people never were, you know. Don’t read it unless you recall your youth with fondness and nostalgia, because this is the story of youth, told by perhaps the least objective and least accurate of biographers – youth itself. In his own words, sometimes soaringly beautiful, often rash and unrealistic, but always with self-honesty, this youth gives his own pronouncement of the goodness of life, discovering first love and the horrorsof war at one and the same time he deals with their confusing disparities as only optimism can. As described by a friend, ‘He was a rough, tough Marine who dared to be gentle.’”

-quoted from “Dennis and Greer” with permission of the editor.

As I started to enter into the story as it picks up with a journal entry by Greer ahead of a letter by Greer in June of 1965 – I started to reflect on the stories I have watched or read centred on war-time love and romance. “Letters from Skye” comes instinctively back to mind and heart but so does the BBC drama ‘As Time Goes By’ where a soldier and a nurse reconnect after a lifetime apart only to find their romance isn’t dead but happily rekindled into life! It became one of the most beloved series my Mum, Dad & I ever watched which happily was able to be a reality because our local library purchased the series on dvd! Their romance was cut short by an errant letter – gone lost – only to end up on display about the ‘war years’ long after they had moved on with their lives! The series reflects upon how you can be given a ‘second chance’ at both love and happiness; what this means to the children you’ve had inbetween re-finding each other and how life can move forward together in a future you never felt you could have at all. Being decidedly British, it is full of dry humour and those were the best bits of all!

There was a movie on Hallmark Channel starting Jennifer Love Hewitt and Betty White about a ‘lost love’ of White’s from WWII; the story was guttingly realistic and the ending truly shatters you – but what is so interesting about the story, is how the character held onto her ‘lost love’ through a bit of correspondence which held within it a lifetime of promise, hope and passion. Even this movie felt like it deserved a nod of mention as an Epistolary story because of how much was anchoured to a ‘Valentine card’.

What I find so very interesting about stories such as these is how much you can gleam out of the letters – either rooted out like Dennis & Greer’s from a box in an attic or conceptionalised by an author (ie. Jessica Brockmore) to root you into a specific era and thereby, a convicting attachment to the characters who are moving ‘forward’ through a series of disclosures as only Epistolary stories can deliver. They move at a pace separate from traditional stories because they are hinged to the letters and/or journals themselves – but somewhere, in this uncertain tangle of life, love and time – you find something quite remarkable each moment you dare to look into the unknown – the beauty of how lives intersect and how hearts bloom to life in the bounty of true love.

My Review of Dennis & Greer:

I had to smile. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a romance which starts off by the revelation someone is smitten over the moon moreso than the other! In this instance, it was Greer who fell for Dennis long before Dennis fell for Greer! She had an instinct about her heart and about Dennis, knowing even when he was only 19 they were meant to be together – why Dennis felt he should distance himself from her is unknown, though there is a hint about his sense of duty in Greer’s first journal entry which eludes to why they are not entirely as ‘together’ as she would prefer them to being! You feel for Greer in this moment – you find someone you were hoping to find at some point but they enter your life quite earlier than you could have hoped and then, for whichever reason, it looks like they are going to exit your life just as fast!

They started corresponding on a larkspur idea of their own – each writing the other within a day of posting off a letter which started their correspondences in earnest! Greer was a bit trepiderious to know if Dennis would welcome her presence in his life and Dennis was equally unglued a bit to know if Greer wanted him in her life; the sillyheads! Of course, they wanted to be in each others’ lives! My (first) favourite letter is Greer’s second letter, in direct response to Dennis’s first letter wherein you can see the setup for their cheekiness and how the quirkiness of their humour found it’s mooring! They start to volley back and forth a bit – enticing each other with a light-hearted grace and a wordplay game of intrigue! They started to include quotations within the footers or body of their letters, too – something I used to like to do myself when I corresponded with my friends. If you love poetry, you’ll love the selections they were making to give each other something ‘to muse over’ whilst contemplating what to write ‘next’.

I even liked seeing the works of literature they were reading – tucking into their letters brought back joyful memories of the letters I’ve written myself and the heartache of falling out step with writing new letters to friends’ I know are dearly hoping their mailboxes will soon have ‘something’ inside them from me! I feel a bit inspired by Dennis and Greer in that regard – as they have the innocence of correspondence alive inside them right now – of how you can take up pen, ink and thought, put it onto tangible display and send it off into the world to greet the person you want to read your words – without the contemplative complications of stressing over anything except how fast you can purchase a stamp for the letter to be sent! I remember those days, where words were steadfast and letters materialised in front of me as if they were evoked out of the ether quite wholly true to form and ready to be shared soon thereafter!

In early July, 1965 Dennis shares his conflicting conscience regarding going on a ‘mission’ with his church (as they are both LDS Christians) or going off to ‘war’ in Vietnam. The rawness of his emotions and his perception of how something has to be done are strengthened by his resolve to not scare off Greer but to simply give her the thoughts as they appear in his mind; he’s being very open and poignant with her at a time where few things were certain. The happy hearted letters of a Summer worker in the desert were quickly replaced by the concerns of where duty and honour lie within the heart of a young man whose trying to sort out his place in a world that is now affected by a war which will be talked about generationally and through the next century (21st).

As Greer relayed her adventures from the Children’s Hospital – your heart broke in certain places for how she must have felt herself walking in and out of the hospital trying to overlook what her mind understood (of how not all the children would live full lives) in order to bring the most joy to the children she saw regularly. It is such a tender moment of disclosure – met by a postcard from Dennis of a boy not yet a man out of luck (lost his job) who harbours a will to fight in a war so far away.

I could dearly relate to Greer’s insomnia! How many times has that happened to where you wonder what the point of having all your energy ready to expel during the one time block of hours where not a hair nor hide of anything is actually open or worth doing at those hours? Her swimming expedition felt the best solution if one has a pool on hand to swim inside – mostly, knitting, reading or blog reading seems to be my jam if I’m betwixt and between sleep and slumber! Although, there were a time where I’d tuck into a letter, sorting out what I wanted to say and trying not to question why I was bushy-tailed and alert at that wicked late hour!

Dennis comes to his senses – urging Greer to marry him in a letter which was more like a declaration of a man’s love and concern for his future wife! You had to smirk as he cleverly and rather cheekily kept announcing “mother of my sons, mother of my daughters” whilst trying to entice her with saying ‘yes’ due to everything he could provide for her and why they would have a well-rounded life together. The conflictions of the recent past must have etched out of his anxieties as he now came across as a man on a mission of having the love of his life accept his pleas for marriage! Men! There are times where they are wickedly frustrating and other times where they know how to charm you into a sea of bliss!

There is a passage from one of Greer’s letters which speaks to the courage of young love and the myriad uncertainties which follow suit after you realise you want to marry the person who completes you.

However, slowly the light is coming to help – the light of faith in God; the light of your candle of courage and the light of my lantern of trust in you and your choices – my lantern is prepared and well-filled with oil!

-quoted from Dennis & Greer with permission of the editor

I love the simplicity of this encouraging statement – of how two people who lean hard on their faith are trying to bolster each other with the hopefulness of their future rather than to sink into despair about being separated and apart in their present. This became my second favourite letter – as it speaks to the humble way in which both Greer and Dennis yearned to be together even if they had to live apart. They were each striving towards understanding why they would meet if they couldn’t be together and thus, attempting to find ways to rectify the distances between them.

What grounds Dennis and Greer’s story is how authentic they were to each other in their letters – even before they were wed, they had heady discussions about everything. About the realities of changing the direction of their lives (by marriage) and of how each of them would have to temper how they choose to handle things (as apparently they both had impulses of outbursts!) but through all their talks, one thing remained true (for both of them): they loved one another even more than they first felt they could! They simply were worried about the timing and how marriage might affect them – would either of them regret the choice to commit now rather than later? And, what would become of Dennis having his goals to pursue – first the mission and (potentially) serving in Vietnam? Greer sensed she could not control how the future would play out (no one can) but she wanted them both to enter into the marriage with their eyes ‘open’ to what they would be facing all the same. She knew Dennis didn’t like to share his thoughts and feelings but she found ways to strike a nerve inside him where he would be drawn out – thereby giving her a glimpse into what he wanted and what he expected as well.

It’s a healthy exercise for any couple – to hash out what is important to each of them, whilst sorting out where they stand on topics and subjects which are equally viable to knowing if they would have a chance at longevity once they were wed. Sometimes I think couples rush into marriage without asking critical questions but Greer and Dennis were leading by example of what to discuss before you take your vows and seal yourself in a ceremony which bonds you together forevermore.

You get overwhelmed by the emotional tension pooling out of Greer’s letters for Dennis – of how difficult it was for her to realise he was placing himself in position to be drafted to war and how this horrible realisation made her more anxious than not knowing when or if they would marry or even if he would go off on a mission for two years without having physical contact with her until he returned. Those who serve missions in the LDS Church oft-times are gone for a long stretch of time until they can return back to the lives they had before they left; thus, Greer was fully aware of the sacrifice she’d be making if he were to go on a mission. Greer openly discloses her anxieties and her vexations of having to be ‘stronger’ than she felt – as she also disclosed how she’d prefer ‘someone else’ to be supportive and strong because she wasn’t feeling charitable at all. Either for a mission assignment or for Dennis being drafted; on both counts, you can feel her emotions rolling through her soul.

As Dennis joined the Marines and wrote from boot camp – you could tell how they were literally on opposite shores in their relationship. He was seeking a part of himself he felt he needed to find and she was acting out the worriment which goes along with knowing your true love could be sent to war and return in a coffin. They were each approaching their new reality (of him serving his country) from different perspectives; each trying to find a middle ground but not entirely erasing the concerns of the present. They put their differences behind them but it’s how they worked out the angst and anguish of facing a war-time placement which endears you to them. They talk about so much in their letters – it is almost as if they have given insight into their souls, whilst attempting to repair their hearts as each time they each felt the other distancing themselves, they felt they could not carry on. They are equally well-matched as they bring so much to each other – Dennis understands her insecurities and her pessimistic tendencies whilst Greer knows she should be more patient with Dennis. He has a deep rooted belief he is meant to do something of honour for duty – this isn’t something Greer can effectively change from his personality or character but it is something which scares her to her core.

I don’t want to reflect on each of the parts of this book – only everything up until this point, as the letters between Dennis & Greer should stand in wait for your own eyes to read. In the end, it is Dennis who has the most to say and share – his letters are writ like a journal of war-time life and of the hopes he had for his love back home. We can all guess at how this ends – even before we know the truth of what happens, because of how the story was set-up to be told. Yet, the beauty of the story are the individual pieces of heart-notes passed between Dennis and Greer.

They shared something quite remarkable despite the shortness of their relationship – this is a chronicle of what they gave to each other and how their life can re-inspire others in today’s uncertain world where peace and war still walk in close proximity to each other.

On the writing styles of Greer and Dennis:

Greer’s style reminds me of my own – full of cheek, full of heart and definitely a penchant for journalling her hours in such a way, it affords you the luxury of ‘fitting into her days’. Greer takes equal depth to give both humour and earnest frankness to her letters; she wants to impart the breadth of her soul to her letters whilst finding a way to round out what she talks about by including the things which occupy her during the day or occupy her thoughts; thus giving you a strong representation of who she is by character. Dennis on the other hand – he’s hard to read at times, as his sarcastic tendencies are harder to vie out from under the serious tone he takes when he’s attempting to be more formal about sharing his feelings. I tried not to take anything he said too seriously if I felt it was not as funny as he felt he was being at the time he wrote the words! Other times, I felt Dennis was merging out of boyhood and trying his best to enter adulthood with the full weight of what he felt was expected of him countered by holding onto a bit of the innocence all boys have in their youth.

They each had their own way of humouring the other, too. Greer tended to see things the way I might have seen them myself and Dennis sometimes took a harder edge to something which might not have warranted it; depending on what they were sharing or living through at the time of their letters.

On gratitude to Greer’s daughter, Molly Gould:

If not for Ms Gould, we would not know ‘Greer and Dennis’ as we do now – their stories might still have been passed down through their family’s lineage but as for our own recollections of their lives? We might have staid in the dark and left without the tidbits of what drew them together and why their connection to each other was so very important. The painstakingly tedious chore of transcribing the letters and Greer’s journal must have been an incredible undertaking! I cannot even imagine how it was done – especially as most of the letters were hand-written (some were typed) which could led to it’s own set of curious discoveries! (if your ever in a thrift store or second-hand attic shoppe, look for the postcards & letters section!)

I am especially grateful for being open to conversations on Twitter – as this is one more example of how those of us who are bookishly geeky can cross paths with those who are writing or editing the stories we most desire to ‘meet’ once their published! I love how Twitter allows us a method of communication but also, a way to connect by talking about what we’re writing, reading or researching! There are a lot of stories out there we might not realise are being published and through blogging whilst tweeting, I have found the combination to be a winning on for finding those writers whose stories are enriching my literary wanderings!

I am most humbled Ms Gould remembered our conversation and of the interest I had in the love story of Greer & Dennis! How lovely to be a part of it’s #PubDay celebrations and to help usher their story into the lives of readers who are going to love being a part of their ‘story’.

I learnt more about Ms Gould in the Appendix section of the book – where Ms Gould fills in the gaps between the ‘ending’ of where Dennis & Greer leave off and where in reality time kept shifting forward for everyone in their lives. Especially for Greer, as she had a second marriage which led to her son Nicholas and her daughter, Molly. It is through this Epilogue we tuck close to Ms Gould’s family and see how the future played out for Greer. Her life was arduously difficult medically speaking but she never failed to find the courage and the strength to face each obstacle which alighted on her path. Hers is a story of incredible trust in believing each new day could lead to a better tomorrow, even if there were moments where you felt less strong than you believed you were – there would come a day where everything you knew to be true would be confirmed.

There are photographs of Greer and Dennis – both together as a couple in love (whilst dating) and whilst getting married inasmuch as seeing Dennis in Vietnam. The photographs bridge the gaps between the letters, Greer’s journal and the realities they faced whilst they were together. There is a unity of story and the powerful conviction of how love can withstand time.

I was truly blessed by receiving “Dennis & Greer” to read – as it encapsulates everything you love about a well-written Romance with the added benefit of this one was being composed one letter at a time!

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This book review is courtesy of:

Molly Gould

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Dennis & Greer: A Love Story”, book synopsis, author photograph and author biography provided by the editor Molly Gould and used with permission. The quotations I used from the ARC of “Dennis & Greer: A Love Story” were selected as I read the story and are being used with permission of the editor Molly Gould. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie in Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, #FuellYourSciFi badge, #WaitingOnWednesday badge using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Pacto Visual,   and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I’m a social reader | I love sharing my reading life

IF you open this tweet – you’ll find the convo I had with Ms Gould about ‘Dennis & Greer’ as it was being written prior to publication! It is how I originally found out about this release!

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 3 October, 2017 by jorielov in 20th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Mormonism, Non-Fiction, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Postal Mail | Letters & Correspondence, Story in Diary-Style Format, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Sixties, Vignettes of Real Life

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2 responses to “#PubDay Non-Fiction Book Review | “Dennis and Greer: A Love Story” told through a young couple’s letters & correspondences edited by Greer’s daughter Molly Gould

    • It truly is!

      One thing which struck me about their letters to each other, is how stirring they were! :) They were staying so very connected to each other – past time and distance – you could feel their love shifting forward to where they were bonding together dimensionally even before they realised to what degree. It is such a wrecking ending — of course, but celebrating the love they shared — this is something quite special Ms Gould has assembled for us all. A legacy by it’s own right – a testament of the strength of love!

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