Dear Kath, Love Ron is a transcription of letters from Ron Spathaky to his wife Kath written between 1937 and 1946, mainly during his service in the Britsh Army. Edited by their son Mike Spathaky, it is a work of serious non-fiction but with storylines running through it.
In the first Chapter, Ron and Kath tell of their growing up and meeting in their own words through recorded conversations and memoirs. Only when she was 98 did Kath reveal her long-kept secret.
The letters themselves are where action and character development are seen, where personal crises develop and subside. Themes weaving the story together include Ron and Kath's commitment to far-left politics and his work in the Army Educational Corps.
The foreground is their relationship. Ron writes about the good times, often in terms which he himself describes as "Lawrencish." They had rough patches too of course: rows during weekend leaves patched up by post; confessions of unfaithfulness by them both and the ensuing anguish. In the end it's a love story.
Through Ron's replies to Kath we catch glimpses of her entry into full-time work and then motherhood. Just three of her letters to Ron have survived but they are pivotal to the story-line.
Another thread is Ron's interest in the places he visited and the people he met. He describes the heat of the Tunisian desert, the primitive houses of Italian villages, the boredom of a military hospital, the bleakness of Salisbury Plain, conversations with farmers in France, Belgium and Palestine, a kibbutz near Haifa, the tombs of the Pharaohs... His memories of the Sussex countryside sustain him while he is abroad.
The story is rounded off with Ron's home-coming and then letters from the Midlands as he starts a new teaching job and looks for a house in which to start the family life they have dreamt of.