A simple romantic tale, sagging with message, featuring the friendship of two Englishwomen--one from a kind and cultured Jewish family, the other the product of a middling poor, dippy, but good- hearted mother and a permanently absent (maybe dead, maybe not) dad. During WW II, anti-Semitism will take its toll. Miranda Whittaker, daughter of flitty Flo--who's apt to change her accounts of the death of Miranda's father to the increasingly exotic--meets Natalie Ellenberg for the first time in their Liverpool school, where the two become fast chums. But it's in 1936 that Miranda also first catches the stench of anti-Semitism when Flo's boyfriend turns out to be an English Nazi. Meanwhile, Miranda loves Natalie's family and adores baby Rachel. Then, however, the baby is tragically killed in a street row, and Miranda is haunted for years by the fear that she's been responsible. War rumbles, and Natalie, a gifted pianist, goes to Paris to study. There, she not only meets the love of her life but, later, she will suffer and come very near death in a camp. At home in England, Miranda-- married to charming, older, and (conveniently) dying Emry--joins the Red Cross, travels to Germany as the war ends, and finds.... At the close, there's a reunion at Miranda's 60th--while a band of Nazi Neanderthals whoop it up in the park across the street. So evil goes on. A well-intentioned first novel built around a worthwhile message--but the characters are as predictable as the plot.