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A journalist and writer for four decades, Lance Ringel has penned five novels and three plays. At Vassar College, where he has worked for 14 years, he served as principal writer for Vassar Voices, a staged reading honoring the college’s sesquicentennial. It debuted at Lincoln Center, starring Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow and Frances Sternhagen and subsequently toured America and London. Ringel also wrote the narrative for At Home in the World, a music-and-words collaboration directed by John Caird that recently played across Japan. Ringel has had an impressive career in politics as well, serving as Assistant Commissioner of Human Rights under New York Governor Mario Cuomo. A native of central Illinois, Ringel currently resides in Poughkeepsie, New York, with his spouse of 37 years, actor-composer Chuck Muckle. Flower of Iowa is his first published work.
on Oct. 16, 2014 :
Lance Ringel, in "Flower of Iowa," somehow found a way to combine tenderness, uncertainty, and authentic characters in the oddest of places - the very real towns and battlegrounds of World War I France. The beauty of the love Tommy and Davey share floats above the uncertainties and evils of war and the social traditions of the times. Like most of humanity, these amazing characters' lives twist and turn, often in miraculous ways with each other and with the many intertwined characters that populate their world - Jamie, Nicole, and so many others. If you are searching for a tender love story that blends honest history, sparkling dialogue, and a powerful ending that brings tears of both joy and sadness, you have no choice but to read "Flower of Iowa."
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on Oct. 05, 2014 :
From the first line, "Hey Tommy!", this novel is engrossing.
The two main characters are engaging young soldiers and the drama is in the contrast between their "innocence" and the horrors of the war . There are other excellently drawn characters. The author has a very thorough knowledge of the Western Front, so that the reader comes to actually identify with the soldiers and their experiences. The dialogue is crisp , the maps very helpful: overall , a terrific novel.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)
on Sep. 07, 2014 :
Flower of Iowa is a remarkable love story set in WWI. The book is incredibly rich in detail and expertly researched. I knew very little about WWI and was caught up in the drama...not only the love story of Tommy and David, but the horrors of trench warfare, and the political dramas of the allies fighting on the front and the devastation the great war left on the entire world.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on June 22, 2014 :
Flower of Iowa is a sweeping epic that not only explores the American entrance to WWI, but is a daringly romantic tale of heroes, loss and friendship that grabs the reader in a deep place. The main characters, Tommy and Davey, came to life and made me pull for them from the start. The book is peopled with amazing characters that mostly seem believable and cause you to love or despise them. Jaime, who could have his own book, is the mentor and friend we all need, for example. The war scenes seem accurate and dangerous, but the danger does not transfer enough over to the love story between two men during a non "enlightened" time as it should. I feared them being caught but that was based on my own knowledge of the time. The novel was enjoyable overall but had some flaws. I felt the frequent usage of French became overwhelming and detracted. I know the author was going for authentic, but it could have been scaled back. I also think usage of nicknames in the narrative could have been limited more, as it felt unnecessary as the nicknames were perfectly placed in dialogue. It's also very long. That being said, I am still reeling from the ending. Although it is similar to the Absolutist in that it has a gay WWI romance, it stands alone and is distinct and quite enjoyable. Read this book if you love an epic love story, want to learn about the Great War's impact on lives, or want to be swept away to another place in time.
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)