I'LL SEE YOU AGAIN: THE BITTERSWEET LOVE STORY AND WARTIME LETTERS OF JEANETTE MACDONALD AND GENE RAYMOND, VOLS. 1-3 (HARDCOVER EDITIONS) by Maggie McCormick
Volume 1: The War—and Before traces the lives of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond, from their modest beginnings through their meeting, marriage, and their activities during World War II. It shows how they each worked hard to gain worldwide fame, found love, and created an idyllic home together, despite interference from Gene’s mother. Always patriotic, both Raymonds gave their all during World War II, both overseas and on the home front, but to the detriment of their marriage and careers. The picture on the cover was from the Raymonds’ last photo shoot before Gene was sent overseas in 1942. It was taken on the outdoor steps at their home, Twin Gables. The book includes photos from Jeanette and Gene’s collection and utilizes personal letters, private documents, and various drafts of Jeanette’s unpublished autobiography.
Volume 2: The Letters is made up of transcriptions of surviving correspondence written by Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond during World War II, giving an insight into their everyday lives. Their wartime letters are touching, full of tenderness, concern, humor, and, occasionally, passion. They shared their mundane everyday experiences and asked each other for advice. One can tell that they respected each other, as well as loved each other. Like all couples, they didn’t get along 100% of the time. They were human and it is that human side that is so endearing. The cover shows Jeanette at home, with a photo of Gene in uniform on her desk, along with the American and British flags. While he was in the Army Air Force, she proudly displayed his picture and discussed his service in interviews. As Gene’s letters prove, he was equally proud of Jeanette’s service on the home front. The book includes a few photos from the Raymonds’ personal collection.
Volume 3: After the War examines Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond’s lives following World War II, when changes in the entertainment industry affected their careers. Many planned projects never materialized, some of which are described in detail, showing the disappointment that the Raymonds encountered. The strain and frustration they faced in their careers, as well as the continued interference from Gene’s mother, put stress on their marriage. They often were apart, due to their work and Gene’s service in the Air Force Reserve. Additionally, Jeanette had numerous health problems, which led to her untimely death. Although Gene remarried nine years after he was widowed, he never stopped loving Jeanette. He kept her legacy alive by playing an active role in her fan club, taking flowers to her crypt, and promoting her career in TV and print interviews. The third volume addresses some of the erroneous information published in other books, web sites, and blogs, and includes the bibliography for the series. As with the other volumes, it includes some photos from the Raymonds’ collection and utilizes personal letters, private papers, and various drafts of Jeanette’s unpublished autobiography. The cover depicts the Raymonds walking in their gardens, a wistful image reminiscent of the end of Jeanette’s favorite film, Maytime. It shows how happy they were to finally be together after the war, unaware that, in less than twenty years, they would be separated by death.