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Predictable, formulaic wartime romance between a poor Jewish nobody girl who falls in love with a wealthy New York Wasp. Aspiring interior-decorator Betsy Bernstein, bearing swatches to the home of socialite Alice Forrest, meets and falls in love with her son, James Paul Forrest III (a Tyrone Power look-alike). Pearl Harbor is bombed, and Paul enlists, for no better reason than to escape his ""rarefied world."" As Paul and Betsy make love, ""I'll Never Smile Again"" plays on the phonograph (""If anything happened to Paul...she'd never smile again""): clearly, he isn't coming home. Ignoring his mother's anti-Semitic hysteria, Paul marries the pregnant Betsy and ships out. On the homefront, Betsy has her own battle: ""deeply conscious of her Jewishness,"" she wants little Jimmy to grow up knowing that Hanukkah is ""a very happy holiday."" But Alice, a ""well-coiffed"" nervous wreck, wants her grandson to travel: Southampton, Palm Beach, and heaven (""I couldn't bear it if Jimmy wasn't there""). Instead, Paul ends up in heaven while his best friend Doug Golden (a nice Jewish boy) who has--wonder of wonders--survived his plane going down in flames, turns up, postwar, in a Manhattan bar. Two hearts beat as one; Betsy smiles again; memories of Paul (""a boy-girl love"") presumably fade. No surprises from the author of Loyalties, No Greater Love, etc. A superficial, ho-hum treatment of a familiar scenario.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Putnam