by Alison Dorf
Whether you're a hopeless romantic or a history buff, "Finding Frances...Love Letters from a Flight Lieutenant" by Catherine Harris, is sure to spark your interest.
Known as "English Cathy" to most, Harris described her first book as a "labor of love," inspired by her Uncle, Eric Hutchin, a flight lieutenant, who fell in love with 17-year-old Frances McKenzie during World War II.
Hutchin came to America during to train at Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., where he met McKenzie, according to Harris. After moving to Tucson in the 1980s, Harris said she thought it would be a good idea to meet McKenzie, having known of her since she was a little girl. Ten years ago, McKenzie gave Harris all of the love letters Hutchin had sent to her during the war.
"I couldn't just put them in a box," Harris said. "You know, I thought, well I should really write a book about this, because it was quite a story."
The book is heavily illustrated with Hutchins' photographs and letters - some transcribed in a cursive font, others, scanned of his actual handwriting.
"It's a story really about all young people who go to war," Harris said. "These people go thousands of miles away from home and they've all got hopes and dreams, and they've got people they're in love with."
Harris said she hopes readers will take away from the book what WWII was like, what England suffered during the war, what it is to really be in love and the reality of war.
"It's really a crossover book," Harris said. "It's a love story, it's a biography obviously, it's a war story and really, it's a little bit of a history story."
The book is being sold in a variety of places, including online and in Harris' vintage store, This, That and the Other, at 3419 E. Grant Rd.