A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.
In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.
Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.
When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
About the Author
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.
“A luminous once-in-a-lifetime story of war, love, loss and the enduring grace of the human spirit. I can’t remember the last time I was so deeply moved by a novel. You must read this book!”
— Lauren Willig, author of the Pink Carnation series and THE OTHER DAUGHTER
“THE FIRE BY NIGHT is quite simply historical fiction at its best: a genuine page-turner, with vivid language and rich, unforgettable characters. But more than that, it’s a startling anthem to the service and sacrifice of women in World War II.”
— David Gilham, author of THE CITY OF WOMEN
“With strong, sharp characters, explosive situations, marvelous detail, epic sweep, this fine first novel of war and friendship has it all.”
— Laird Hunt, author of NEVERHOME
“An epic story of love, loss and survival that weaves meticulous research together with the complexities of the human heart. This novel is not to be missed.”
— Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of FLIGHT PATTERNS