Skipping the glamour and glitz this time around, Steel (most recently, Second Chance, p. 473) makes a well-meaning attempt at a serious WWII tale (with star-crossed lovers, of course).
Steel begins her tale, however, in 1915, some months after the Great War has begun. Beata Wittgenstein, the daughter of an upper-class, patriotic German-Jewish family, falls in love with a man she meets by chance: Antoine de Vallerand, who’s Catholic and French. While he’s handsome, brilliant, and charming, Antoine is not at all the sort of suitor the Wittgensteins had in mind for their lovely, studious, dutiful daughter. The Vallerand family is equally outraged. Nonetheless, Beata converts to Catholicism to marry Antoine, though her father, Jacob, declares his daughter dead to him from that day on. She decides not to tell her children that she is Jewish—a fateful decision for her daughter Amadea. Years later, Antoine breaks his neck in a riding accident, dying instantly. The grieving Beata becomes deeply religious and urges Amadea to live up to her name and enter a convent, though she still knows nothing of her Jewish background. When the Wittgensteins are killed during Kristallnacht, Beata confesses everything to her other daughter, Daphne, but not Amadea, hoping to protect her. Later, as WWII rages, Amadea is singled out by an unknown informer, rounded up with other French Jews, and sent to Theriesenstadt. She escapes and joins the French Resistance (where she meets handsome Serge, underground leader). Then, burned and paralyzed by a railroad bomb, she is airlifted to England (where she meets handsome Rupert, who’s looking after a houseful of war orphans). Will she ever walk again? Will she return to the convent? Or marry Rupert?
Get out your hankies, ladies. Steel put her all into this one.