A keenly detailed historical romance in which love must conquer bigots, zealots, and Nazis.
Julian Rose emigrated from Berlin in the late 1920s as a teenager to escape his impractical Jewish scholar father, Theodor. By 1938, he's a semigangster in Newark made rich by Prohibition, a protégé of the local ward boss now turning to real estate development. When Theodor emigrates from Nazi Germany to accept a post as the only white professor at African-American Lovewood College in Florida, Julian travels south to visit his parents. There, he falls hard for “tawny, exotic beauty” Kendall Wakefield, the artistically minded daughter of the college’s fierce female founder, herself the daughter of a slave and owner of 2,000 acres of land her white neighbors want back in their own hands. Author Golden (Comeback Love, 2012) proves his stripes as a historian, detailing the lovers’ brief bliss in prewar Greenwich Village, separating them for their individual battles during the war, and reuniting them in a skillfully evoked postwar Paris. There are complications, though. The swift pace sometimes comes at the cost of the characters. Julian seems to be made mainly of money, violence, and longing. Despite these problems, the love story is epic and truly felt. In Kendall, Golden has created a fascinating, complex, and flawed heroine whose devotion to her art proves to be as much an obstacle to the lovers as issues of racism, war, and physical separation. The frequent sex scenes, although handled with taste, may put off certain readers, while others may find them crucial to the bond between the lovers.
Interracial lovers overcome many obstacles, including their own worst impulses, in a compelling World War II–era love story.