Solo Vietnam (Age View Press, 266 pp., $14.99, paper) is Jeanette Vaughn’s sequel to Flying Solo. The cover features a color photo of a warplane. Between that and the title, I figured this novel would focus on the American air war in the skies over Vietnam. I was half right.
Nora Broussard wants to go to Vietnam, but the U. S. government won’t allow her to fly combat there, so she figures out an alternate route. She joins Bob Hope’s USO show as a torch singer and also arranges a job as a USO club manager.
This enables our heroine to leave her children and mother behind in New Orleans and to land in South Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive. She encounters her lover, Steve, in an intimate scene aboard an aircraft carrier, but then Steve goes down over Laos along with his plane.
After that, the book became a bit far-fetched for me. Still, it remained interesting, even engrossing, as Vaughn—although not the greatest stylist—is a fine storyteller, and she has a seldom-told story to relate to us.
Jeannette Vaughn is a writer and sheep rancher. Two of her children are Navy pilots. Nothing is said of the author’s military experience, but much is said in the acknowledgements to thank those with military experience from whom she drew information and details for the novel, particularly Marine Captain Robert Lathrop. She tells us that the many missions in her book were based on his manuscript memoir, Eternally at War, which can be found in the Texas Tech University Vietnam Center and Archive.
This novel is spiced up with expressions such as “Gookville,” and “baby killer.” Mostly, though, the author avoids falling into the trap of writing the same old Vietnam War novel. Instead, she has come up with a novel that covers new ground in a responsible way, along with enough romance and action to hold this reader’s interest. I enjoyed the book.