In his second novel (the first not published here), Dubliner Hamilton cannily interlaces a brace of bittersweet, doomed love affairs four decades apart. The narration alternates in time periods--between the close of WW II, when the Germans evacuate a small town in Czechoslovakia, and the 1980's, when an American man returns to Germany and Czechoslovakia to a passionate affair with his best friend's wife and also to search through the past for some missing days--in May 1945. Radio technician Franz Kern suggested to Bertha Sommer, the only German woman working at the Reich's garrison in the village of Laun in occupied Czechoslovakia, that the time had come to think about escape home before the inevitable approach of the victorious Russians and the end of the war. The first try goes awry in the rain, but at the evacuation, Kern and Sommer take to bicycles they've wisely acquired and--among the flow of refugees (from both East and West)--they toil on, finally taking to the hills. In days of fatigue, hope, and sharing, the two become friends and then, in an idyll by a sweet and serene isolated lake, become lovers--while two starving, violent, homeless men watch. A last shot is fired at the height of violence. There will be a homecoming, but passion has been spent. In the 1980's, an American from Vermont renews an affair with beautiful Anke, wife of best friend Jurgen. The couple's Down's syndrome small son is dying of leukemia. Fevered with approaching loss, Anke turns to her old love. In the meantime, the American is searching for...Franz Kern. A shrewd and effective meld of adventure, pockets of dreamy romance and passion, plus a spattering of cynical comments about the ``freedom'' within the united Germany--all touched with a faint dramatic melancholy.