Meet World War II’s Courageous Nurses in ‘The Fire by Night’ [REVIEW]

Field hospital nurses

Meet some of the American military nurses who risked their lives during World War II in Teresa Messineo’s The Fire by Night. (Photo by Marion Doss, Flickr)

We’ve often heard, read, and watched epics about the brave men (and sometimes men who were barely more than boys) who courageously served in the various branches of the military during World War II. But we seldom hear about the women who sacrificed their youth and freedom to serve in wartime hot zones as military nurses who worked tirelessly to save lives and mend and watch over the injured soldiers who were carried in off the field, barely clinging to life. Teresa Messineo’s engrossing novel, The Fire by Night, finally brings these stories to dazzling, vivid life.  

Teresa Messineo's THE FIRE BY NIGHT

William Morrow

In France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from New York City, tends to six wounded soldiers in a makeshift hospital around the clock, even though everyone else has been ordered to evacuate. As the Germans advance, she struggles to keep these battered men alive, despite her exhaustion. Pushed to her breaking point, she focuses on the men she tends, and finds herself falling under the spell of a Scottish officer. But she’s already lost far too much, and starting a wartime romance isn’t on her agenda. Instead, she focuses on happy memories of the good times spent with her best friend, another nurse she met in school named Kay Elliott.

On the opposite side of the globe, Pennsylvania-born Kay is lost in a sea of thousands, held in a filthy Japanese POW camp in Manila in the midst of the Pacific. Like everyone around her, all she can do is pray that the sadistic enemy who holds them prisoner will be vanquished before it is too late. Like Jo, she clings to memories of the past, of her days in Hawaii with the handsome Navy flyer who swept her off her feet before the airstrike on Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by tragedy and hopelessness, she strives to keep her senses about her and help the people around her until she can be reunited with her friend once more.

With The Fire by Night, Teresa Messineo has done for World War II’s nurses what Steven Spielberg did for its soldiers in his film Saving Private Ryan. She has captured their humanity and valor, dreams and heartbreak, strength and fear with a sure pen and a unequivocle admiration and empathy for all they did and went through. Jo, Kay, Queenie, and the rest of these women come off the page so vividly, readers will feel as though they know them personally, and it will undoubtedly inspire many to take another look at our recent history and at those women who inspired this flawless novel. 


Teresa Messineo

Teresa Messineo

Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night, her first novel.

She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics.

She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania. Readers are invited to connect with her on Facebook.

By Teresa Messineo
336 pgs. William Morrow. $15.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Fire by Night at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollins, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

The Fire by Night is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

The Fire by Night Giveaway

Want to win a copy of The Fire by Night for your personal library? Simply complete the form below and click submit to enter. Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. Contest ends Nov. 2, 2017.


About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Meet World War II’s Courageous Nurses in ‘The Fire by Night’ [REVIEW]

  1. Your comparison to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN seems particularly fitting. This is one of those books that will change the way many people understand WWII.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. Pingback: Teresa Messineo, author of The Fire By Night, on tour October 2017 | TLC Book Tours

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