An earnest debut that opens with a terrifically exciting plane wreck over Labrador, then dwindles into decades of complacency.
Walt Dunmore is the air gunner of a bomber forced down by bad weather three hours from Iceland, in 1944. He is the only survivor, rescued (with both hands frostbitten) after several days of watching over his friend and navigator, Alister Clark, who bleeds to death in the wreckage from a shoulder wound. Once Walt is returned to wife Dottie, living with her family on the Lake Erie shore, the story abruptly shifts to America in 1967. During the Summer of Love, Alister’s daughter Caroline, a Chicago librarian and poet, wonders what’s become of childhood sweetheart Sam Dunmore (Walt’s son), who seven months earlier enlisted in the army. The two families emigrated to the U.S. in the ’50s and stayed in close contact. While Sam is away, Caroline starts going out with his mischievous brother Charley and even discusses marriage. Much of the story rehashes these convoluted relationships, moving erratically back and forth over the years.
A sentimental sweep of Canadian-American relations. After a promising start, recent Iowa Writers’ Workshop grad Johns unrolls a listless tale with much telling and precious little showing.