Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Life Apart-L. Y. Marlowe

A Life Apart L. Y. Marlowe BDWY/Broadway Books, Apr 22 2014, $16.00 ISBN: 9780307719393 In 1940 Boston, Morris Sullivan and Agnes marry just before he enlists in the Navy. While he is stationed at Pearl Harbor, she remains in Massachusetts raising their baby with him making two short visits over the next eighteen months. At the same time Beatrice Dobbins follows her brother Robert leaving Mississippi for Roxbury where she trains as a teacher and he joins the Navy. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Morris’ ship the USS Oklahoma is hit. He loses his footing and slides into the ocean. His last thoughts are on his wife and daughter, but Robert saves his life. Soon after his heroism, Robert dies as the assault continues. Feeling he owes Robert, Morris sends a letter offering comfort to the man’s grieving sister. Beatrice responds thanking him for his kind note especially informing her that her sibling died a hero. However, both know a white married male and a black female cannot be friends so they end their correspondence. Two decades later, Morris and Beatrice meet and soon each admits to being in love with the other. They begin an affair as Morris struggles to maintain two families. Rotating perspective between Morris and the two women in his life over five decades, A Life Apart is an engaging timely (with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and recent SCOTUS decisions on voting and affirmative action) family drama. The protagonists of the biracial triangle are fascinating with Morris acting fickle; Agnes knowing something is wrong; and Beatrice fearing consequences. Although the storyline fails to dig deep into the tumultuous background, readers will appreciate this enjoyable historical epic of a man and his two families. Harriet Klausner >

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