Lance Ringel's Flower of Iowa is a sprawling tale of battle and romance during the First World War, the four years that tore Europe in half and hastened the end of an era. In the tradition of stirring historical novels, this grand epic showcases courage, the resilience of the human spirit, and the transformative power of love. Flower of Iowa recalls Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, if that celebrated tale of love during wartime had featured two men at the bruised heart of the story.
The novel is set against the turbulent backdrop of France during the final months of World War I. Naïve, idealistic American soldier Tommy Flowers, a small-town boy from the Midwest, struggles to become a good soldier in the trenches. He draws the attention of Nicole Lacroix, a free-spirited French barmaid, but soon finds himself in a rivalry for her affections with his brash Australian lieutenant, Jamie Colbeck. At the same time, however, Tommy becomes best pals with savvy young British soldier David Pearson. The friendship soon develops an unexpected intimacy. Baffled by their feelings, but committed to exploring them further, Tommy and David do everything to spend time together, even after David is wounded and sent home to England to convalesce.
Flower of Iowa is meticulously researched, documenting the pivotal battles of 1918, life at the front lines, and the everyday challenges and tragedies facing the soldiers of the Great War. Author Ringel has created an instant classic, deeply compelling and authentic, recalling a fraught time when love between two men was territory as perilous and uncharted as No Man's Land.
About the Author
Lance Ringel's novel Flower of Iowa, published as an eBook in 2014, was issued in hardcover in 2020, and has been named a finalist for four literary honors: Lambda Literary Award (Gay Romance), Foreword Indies Book of the Year Award (War & Military Fiction), and IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Fiction: Romance, and LGBTQ). Ringel's play In Love with the Arrow Collar Man, based on the true story of famed illustrator J.C. Leyendecker and his muse-lover Charles Beach, premiered at New York's Theatre 80 St. Marks. Both Arrow Collar Man and the musical Animal Story, for which Ringel wrote books and lyrics, with music by Chuck Muckle, made the semifinals of the New York New Works Film Festival, and his stage adaptation of Flower of Iowa subsequently made the finals of the festival. His latest play, Flash/Frozen, is centered on the tragic 1961 plane crash that took the lives of the U.S. Figure Skating Team. At Vassar College, where he has worked for 21 years, Ringel wrote Vassar Voices, which premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Meryl Streep, Frances Sternhagen, and Lisa Kudrow. He also wrote the narrative for At Home in the World, which played in Tokyo, New York, Washington, and Kampala, under the direction of John Caird. A native of central Illinois, Ringel currently resides in both New York City and in Poughkeepsie, NY, with his spouse of 44 years, actor-composer-director Chuck Muckle.
"Ringel packs a remarkable amount of flavor and detail into this debut work. In addition to providing a compelling love story, he serves up gripping depictions of the war's horrible, often absurd battles and the male camaraderie and army bureaucracy that accompanied them. ... Accomplished, touching historical fiction."
"Reading a truly wonderful WW1 novel. A gay romance, but not soppy or silly. So truthful and touching."
- Stephen Fry, actor and author
"Set in France during four months of the last year of WWI and written with gorgeous, evocative prose, Lance Ringel's story of war and the love of two young soldiers is a book that will ring in your heart long after the last pages have been read."
- Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet