Friday, August 7, 2015

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach - Pam Jenoff

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
Pam Jenoff
Mira, Jul 28 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778317548

In 1941 Italy a frightened Momma fears for the lives of her daughter Adelia, her husband and herself; as the Fascists target Jews.  She places Adelia on a ship bound to Gibraltar where her child will catch a boat heading to Philadelphia.  In the States, her family fails to arrive on time; even as the immigration officer insists children must be met by an adult.   Uncle Meyer and Aunt Bess get there late but in time to bring their niece to their Chelsea Beach home to live with them. 

The next door Irish-Catholic Connally family, especially the four sons, greet her as a friend.  Adelia is attracted to the oldest Charlie, but he enlists; while heartbroken she becomes a translator in DC.  Stunned when Charlie arrives and leaves her, she heads to London to escape her grief.  Working for a newspaper, she likes her boss Teddy until Charlie arrives again.

Moving from war-torn Poland (see The Winter Guest, The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat’s Daughter) to the States and London, Pam Jenoff provides another tremendous WWII drama that leaves readers believing we traveled to the 1940s.  Through the eyes of the forced to mature rather quickly heroine, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a powerful timely (after the Bush era Iraq and the present Iran drumbeats) historical as we witness the cost of hostilities on young civilians and families.

Harriet Klausner

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