Justiss joins Fresh Fiction for another installment of the History ReFreshed
column. Welcome, Julia!
In a nod to the recent releases of movies Unbroken and American
Sniper, in this installment, we’ll examine a selection of novels that
explore life and love during World War II. In keeping with the world-wide scope
of that conflict, one book is set in home front England, one in home front USA,
one in Paris and one in Berlin.
WAR BRIDES by Helen Bryan
First up is WAR BRIDES by
Helen Bryan. As the war makes its mark of the village of Crowmarsh Priors
with air raids, rationing, evacuees to be billeted and the disappearance of
local men into the army, five women of disparate backgrounds meet and forge a
friendship and loyalty that will last for fifty years. Vividly evoking the
world from which each came—the vicar’s daughter, the American her fiancé broke
their engagement to marry instead, the evacuee from the slums of East End, the
Jewish girl fleeing the Nazis, and the headstrong debutant—and the progression
of their friendship through the war years, the story shifts to a reunion fifty
years after VE day—and the grim purpose that drew them back together.
THE MAJOR'S DAUGHTER by J.P. Francis
THE MAJOR'S DAUGHTER
Hopping across the ocean to American, we have THE MAJOR'S
DAUGHTER by J.P. Francis. Inspired by a real World War II POW camp, the
story takes place in the rural village of Stark, New Hampshire, whose placid
existence is jolted by the arrival of 150 German prisoners of war in the spring
of 1944. Camp Stark is commanded by the widowed Major John Brennan, whose
devoted daughter Collie serves as translator. The beautiful Collie is soon
drawn to Private August Wahrlich, a poet traumatized by war. As the two become
involved, they are confronted by the conflict between duty, patriotism and
LAST TRAIN TO ISTANBUL by Ayse Kulin
LAST TRAIN TO ISTANBUL
Next up is a more exotic setting and characters
who remind us that not just the Western World suffered in the conflict. In LAST TRAIN TO
ISTANBUL: A NOVEL by Ayse Kulin (John W. Baker, translator,) Selva, the
daughter of Turkey’s Ottoman Pasha, could have married as highly as she chose.
But her heart belongs to Rafael Alfandari, the handsome son of the Jewish court
physician. Defying their families, they flee to Paris…only to encounter the
terror of Nazi occupation during WWII. With their lives and love threatened,
they turn to a group of brave Turkish diplomats who are smuggling endangered
innocents out of Paris, setting out upon a dangerous and desperate trip across a
BERLIN CALLING by Kelly Durham
Finally, in BERLIN CALLING
by Kelly Durham, we explore life in the heart of the German war machine
itself. English-hating Irish-American Maggie O’Dea meets dashing German soldier
Kurt Engel while studying at Heidelberg. Bewitched, she follows Kurt to Berlin,
where he helps her get a job as assistant to “Lord Lyon,” an Englishman who
broadcasts Nazi propaganda to his home country. American Erich Greinke, who
fought with the Germans during the Spanish Civil War and was then recruited to
report on developments in the German capital, sees in Maggie the chance to
penetrate the inner circle of the Ministry of Propaganda. As war envelops
Europe, Maggie comes to question the propaganda she’s disseminating, creating a
confrontation between conscience, love, loyalty—and with the watching Gestapo
ever present—survival itself.
For next time, you can put away your Betty Grable pumps and pull out your
flapper dress—we’ll be exploring America of the Roaring Twenties!
About Julia Justiss
After twelve years
as a vagabond Navy wife, an adventure that took her from Virginia Beach, VA, to
Monterrey, CA, to Tunis, Tunisia to Oslo, Norway and back, Julia
followed her husband to his family's East Texas homeland. On a hill above a pond
with a view of pasture land, they built an English Georgian-style home. Sitting
at her desk there, if she ignores the summer heat, she can almost imagine
herself in Jane Austen's Regency England.
In between teaching high school French and making jaunts to visit her three
children (a Seabee in Gulfport, MS, a clothing buyer in Houston and a mechanical
engineer in Austin, TX) she pursues her first love—writing historical fiction.
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