Saturday, 22 March 2014

Brave Hearts by Carolyn Hart

published 1987







[Catharine Cavanaugh is an American diplomat’s wife, in London in May 1941]

She sat at the luxuriously appointed table in a pool of quiet as her companions talked, a breathtaking, lovely woman with fine chiselled features, glossy soft black hair that hung around her face, and enormous violet-coloured eyes. She wore a soft blue silk dress that clung to her with grace, revealing a slim supple body…

Why had she caught his gaze? It wasn’t just her beauty. There were more striking women around the room, women who looked quite approachable. But there was something about this woman, something about her face, something about her eyes. She was with a vivacious crowd, women in evening gowns, the men, of course, in uniform … She wore a pale blue silk dress. He knew from years of looking at people, and dealing with all kinds, that the dress was very expensive…




observations: I read a review of this over at Col’s Criminal Library, and when I commented on how interesting it sounded, my friend Col generously sent it over to me – you can read his original review here. Carolyn Hart is one of those writers with an astounding work ethic – I knew she had written a number of cozy mystery series, and had sampled some of them, but then found she has written 50+ books, including several standalones such as this one, which is more of a romantic adventure. It’s almost unfair to illustrate it with the excerpt and top picture above, because the meat of the book comes in the second half, when the characters are caught up in the Philippines in wartime and undergo a hazardous and testing time, and considerable deprivation – there’s no more blue silk dresses, that’s for sure. Hence the other pictures.



The Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines, and the dramatic battles of Bataan and Corregidor, were pretty much unknown territory to me. The book is very melodramatic, there’s not much humour, and the love scenes are a bit over the top – but it is informative as well as entertaining, and presents a convincing picture of the country and the events. That seems to have been Hart’s intention: although fiction, the story is meant to present a true picture of the times.

The early scenes in London are reminiscent of The West End Front. The Cole Porter song Begin the Beguine comes up: you can see Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dancing to it in this blog entry.

Thanks to Col for the book.

The top picture is from Dovima is Devine.

The second picture is from the San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives, from a military collection of photos of the era, only described geographically as the South Pacific. The lower picture from the US National Archives shows US troops making friends with Filipino children in 1945.

10 comments:

  1. Moira - I thought this one sounded interesting too, from reading Col's review. I think it's easy to forget that World War II was fought on many, many fronts including of course the Philippines. Funny how that particular front is certainly famous, but I don't know enough about it either. Just on that score I'd like to read this one.

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    1. It does tell you a lot - I had to keep going to Wikipedia to look things up. I'm glad it's not just us in the UK who don't know quite enough about this!

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  2. Moira, thanks for the mention. Glad you enjoyed it, worked for me too, though the romantic element was also less of a buzz than the events depicted.

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    1. Thank *you* - I was glad to read it. I'm sure you took in all the nuances of the blue silk dress when you were reading it.

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    2. The blue silk dress.......the very bestest bit.....a glaring omission from my review. Too late to edit now!

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    3. I knew you'd regret it once you realized.

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  3. Until Col wrote his review, I had no idea that Hart wrote anything of this type before her current series. I will keep on the lookout for these types of books at the book sale. I do have Letter from Home (2003), which I have heard is good.

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    1. What an interesting career Carolyn Hart has had. I'll have to go and look up Letter from Home.

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    2. It sounds riveting, I have just ordered it. Darn you TracyK, the last thing I need is more books!

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    3. I am thrilled to have contributed to your pile of books. You will probably read it before I do, although I have had my copy for a long time. I am beginning to compile a list of books, real and e-books, to take and read when visiting Alabama. The only good thing (almost) about the visit.

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