Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was just a kid, her mom died when she was eighteen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she's laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea...until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother - and the painting arrives with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, "He never stopped loving her."
Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the World War II POW internment camps in Florida, where the German prisoners worked for American farmers...and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany, and back to the Atlanta art scene before she's done.
Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she's seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she's kept locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?
Let me tell you what I liked about this book:
1. I am a big fan of historical fiction. And as you have seen from Harmel's The Room on Rue Amelie, The Sweetness of Forgetting, and The Winemaker's Wife, and, now, When We Meet Again, nobody does it any better.
2. Did you know that German prisoners actually worked on farms here in the U.S. during WWII? Neither did I. When you read WWMA, you'll find out how many there were. And I think it will blow your mind. It sure did mine.
3. My favorite historical fiction novels are the ones that go back and forth from then to now. This one certainly does that.
4. Kristin has created a book that mixes in mystery tied into the historical elements.
5. And let's not forget that there might even be a love story to enjoy.
6. Finally, and probably most importantly for me, I emotionally connected to the characters. You all know how important that is to me. I never have to worry about that with Kristin's books.
So there you have it. I will end by quoting from notes I took while reading: "I'm tired of doing nothing but praise Harmel. But what can I do?"