Callanan, Liam. The Cloud Atlas (Dell Publishing, 2004).
Set against the magnificent backdrop of Alaska in the waning days of World War II, The Cloud Atlas is an enthralling debut novel, a story of adventure and awakening—and of a young soldier who came to Alaska on an extraordinary, top-secret mission…and found a world that would haunt him forever. Drifting through the night, whisper-quiet, they were the most sublime manifestations of a desperate enemy: Japanese balloon bombs. Made of rice paper, at once ingenious and deadly, they sailed thousands of miles across the Pacific...and once they started landing, the U.S. scrambled teams to find and defuse them, and then keep them secret from an already anxious public. Eighteen-year-old Louis Belk was one of those men. Dispatched to the Alaskan frontier, young Sergeant Belk was better trained in bomb disposal than in keeping secrets. And the mysteries surrounding his mission only increased when he met his superior officer—a brutal veteran OSS spy hunter who knew all too well what the balloons could do—and Lily, a Yup’ik Eskimo woman who claimed she could see the future.
Louis’s superior ushers him into a world of dark secrets; Lily introduces Louis to an equally disorienting world of spirits—and desire. But the world that finally tests them all is Alaska, whose vastness cloaks mysteries that only become more frightening as they unravel. Chasing after the ghostly floating weapons, Louis embarks upon an adventure that will lead him deep into the tundra. There, on the edge of the endless wilderness, he will make a discovery and a choice that will change the course of his life.
Campbell, L.K. A Soldier’s Love (Lulu.com, 2006).
At twenty-five, Katie McNeill has been labeled "an old maid" by her older, married coworkers at the University of Maryland. However, in fall of 1941, she finds herself caught between two very different men. Jimmy Garrett is a spoiled young man from a wealthy Maryland family, who only wants to bed Katie. Ron Miller is an intelligent and handsome army officer who is gun shy of love after being hurt by his ex-fiancée. Sunday, December 7, changes all three of their lives. Upon learning that Pearl Harbor has been bombed, Ron and Katie confess their love for one another. Jimmy, however, is not the kind of man to take no for an answer.
Canin, Ethan. Carry Me Across the Water (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, New edition 2, 2002).
Breathtaking in its suspense and beauty, Carry Me Across the Water is the story of a man’s turbulent journey, with his family, through the central years of the twentieth century. Young August Kleinman escapes from Nazi Germany to America, where his mother’s words—“Take the advice of no one”—fate him to a life of boldness and originality, from the poor streets of New York to the marble mansions of industrial Pittsburgh, from old world Hamburg to the jungle islands of the Pacific. Ultimately, near the end of a long and bountiful life, his resolution of a haunting encounter with a Japanese soldier during World War Two finally illuminates, at the deepest levels, the way authentic lives truly unfold. From the writer hailed as “the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation” (Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio) comes this “exquisitely modulated short novel” (Los Angeles Times), which “eases its silky-smooth way into a reader’s consciousness even as it plumbs the depths” (Newsday).
Capella, Anthony. The Wedding Officer: A Novel of Culinary Seduction (Bantam Books, 2007).
Captain James Gould arrives in wartime Naples assigned to discourage marriages between British soldiers and their gorgeous Italian girlfriends. But the innocent young officer is soon distracted by an intoxicating young widow who knows her way around a kitchen...Livia Pertini is creating feasts that stun the senses with their succulence—ruby-colored San Marzana tomatoes, glistening anchovies, and delectable new potatoes encrusted with the black volcanic earth of of Campania—and James is about to learn that his heart may rank higher than his orders. For romance can be born of the sweet and spicy passions of food and love—and time spent in the kitchen can be as joyful and exciting as the banquet of life itself!
Carcaterra, Lorenzo. Street Boys (Random House Publishing Group, 2003).
Naples, Italy, during four fateful days in the fall of 1943. The only people left in the shattered, bombed-out city are the lost, abandoned children whose only goal is to survive another day. None could imagine that they would become fearless fighters and the unlikeliest heroes of World War II.
Castellani, Christopher. A Kiss from Maddalena (Penguin Group, 2004).
It is 1943, and Santa Cecilia has become a village of women. All the young men are away at war, except for Vito Leone, his best friend, and the shopkeeper's son. When Vito falls in love with Maddalena Picinelli, the shy and beautiful daughter of the town's most powerful family, a few obstacles appear in his path. Maddalena's sassy, iron-willed sister Carolina thinks he's a penniless fool. Her parents think his crazy mother has turned him into a mammoni, a mama's boy. But Maddalena sees another side of Vito. He's romantic. He builds a bicycle for the girls to ride. He takes care of his feeble mama, who hasn't been the same since her husband and daughters ran off to America. And Vito is determined to win Maddalena's hand even though she has three older sisters who must be married off first.
When the Italians surrender to the Allies and German soldiers invade Santa Cecilia, everyone flees but Vito and his mother. With ingenuity and boundless devotion, Vito comes up with a plan to prove that he's a suitable suitor. The Picinelli family returns home after the war to find that some miraculous changes have taken place. Now, only one man stands in Vito's way, and Maddalena is forced to choose between her family's wishes and her own heart.
Caso, Adolph. The Straw Obelisk (Branden Books, 1995).
This strange antiwar novel is set in post-World War II Italy where Samuele, a young soldier ill with consumption, returns to his village much changed by the horrors he witnessed in battle. Always hot tempered, he is now more accepting of human foibles. This contrasts sharply with the often harsh traditions of the village. A young married woman pays with her life for a momentary indiscretion, and many feel her murder justified. Not Samuele, who tracks down the killer, who happens to be her husband and his friend. The obelisk of the title is a tall, intricately detailed structure that must be transported using dangerous maneuvers, but Samuele uses his waning strength to lead the effort in bringing this symbol of love and peace to the town square. Although not poetic, the writing is competent and does evokes the reality of village life. (Library Journal, May 1995)
Chabon, Michael. The Final Solution (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005).
In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, prose magician Michael Chabon conjured the golden age of comic books, interwining history, legend and story-telling verve. In The Final Solution, he has condensed his boundless vision to create a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that re-imagines the classic 19th-century detective story. In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his bookkeeping than his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African grey parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out-a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance at once more prosaic and far more sinister?
Though the solution to this last case may be beyond even the reach of the once famed sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed to the reader in a wrenching resolution to this brilliant homage. The Final Solution is a work from a master story-teller at the height of his powers.
Charlesworth, Monique. The Children’s War (Harper Perennial, 2005).
In this intense coming-of-age novel, which begins in 1939, Ilse is a young German girl whose parents are forced to separate during the years of the Nazi regime. Her Aryan mother remains in Hamburg; her Jewish father ends up in Paris, where--after a Moroccan sojourn with her beloved uncle Willy--Ilse is sent to join him. Ilse's father has always been distant, and she misses her mother; she and her father are forced to flee Paris together when the Germans arrive, and the girl's feelings are sorely mixed as, precariously, they try to survive. Monique Charlesworth's novel is based loosely on her own family history.
Chessman, Harriet Scott. Someone Not Really Her Mother (Penguin Group, 2005).
As Hannah Pearl's memories of her 1940 escape to England from war-torn France come to the foreground of her consciousness, her memory of her more recent American life, including her relationships with her daughter and granddaughters, is almost erased. Her daughter, Miranda, attempts to bring her mother into the present and the daily activities of family life, yet finds herself instead pulled into Hannah's unresolved past. Miranda's daughters confront the shadows of history in their own ways. Fiona, content with her life as a new mother, tries to ignore the ghostly presence of Hannah's family, who perished in the war, while Ida clings to Hannah's revelations as if they form a lifeline. Facing the mystery of Hannah's unspoken memories of grief, each woman must ask how well anyone can know the inner life of another person, even of someone one cherishes.
Clark, James Lester. Autumn 1943 (Writer’s Press Books, 2002).
A gripping story of people, places and things concerning perhaps the nation’s defining moment—World War II—focusing on what many consider the nation’s finest generation, set in the most unique situation imaginable. Read, laugh, and weep.
Clarke, Caro. Wolf Ticket (Firebrand Books, 1998).
Plucky characters and Hollywood-style action-adventure characterize this pleasing first novel, set in Europe during the last months of WWII. When Pascale Tailland, a translator in the WAC, makes a split-second decision to rescue a stranded refugee, the wheels of a colorful lesbian romance are set into motion. The refugee, a scrappy young Polish woman masquerading as a man, and Pascale quickly forge an indelible bond and are almost as quickly separated by mischance. Each embarks on a quest to find the other and, along the way, each recruits a lively cast of characters to her aid. Clarke adds some depth and resonance to what is essentially a quick-paced swashbuckler by examining the refugee experience during and directly after WWII. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Clavell, James. King Rat (Dell, Reissue, 1986).
King Rat is named after the central character in Clavell's spellbinding masterpiece about the brutality of prison camp life in Japanese-occupied, World War II Malaya. The King, an American corporal, seeks to dominate both captives and captors by his courage, profound insight into human frailties, and pragmatic American business techniques in a class-ridden society where Japanese and British actions are bound by bankrupt codes of "honor." The novel, originally published in 1962, is made more engrossing by flashbacks to the home front.