Owl & Turtle Bookshop employee Ann Morris has written a book about her Aunt Martha’s adventures in France during the year before World War II. Morris will read and sign copies of “Don’t Worry, Mother” Wednesday, Aug. 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the shop, 32 Washington St. in the Knox Mill complex.

Morris edited her aunt’s enthusiastic, optimistic letters and wondered how they could be so cheerful as Europe descended toward war. She wondered what Americans knew about Hitler, so she spent two years reading the New York Times from 1938 and 1939 on microfilm. The result, “Don’t Worry, Mother: An Innocent Abroad on the Eve of War,” is based on the letters of Martha Nicklas Hause and stories taken directly from the Times.

It was the summer of 1938. The Anschluss had joined Germany and Austria, and Nazis were raising havoc among Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. Howard Hughes flew around the world to promote peace, and Americans were dancing to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Martha Nicklas of Erie, Pa., was sailing to France on the Normandie, the greatest ocean liner ever built. She was on her way to teach English at a school for girls in Aix-en-Provence. She was enthusiastic, optimistic and blind to the dangers that lay before her.

Nicklas would be in Paris during the Munich Crisis. She would fall in love with southern France and the friends she met along the way. She would travel through Germany during her Christmas vacation, through Italy during her Easter vacation and eat Fettuccini Alfredo served by Alfredo, himself. In “Don’t Worry, Mother,” Nicklas’ letters, filled with innocence and the essence of youth, are interrupted every so often by stories taken straight from the New York Times. The juxtaposition of the happy letters and the frightening news takes readers back to that wonderful, terrible year before the war with a suspense that is intensified by knowing the outcome.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.