Look closely at the cover image of Come From Away (2018 Simon and Schuster). The young woman is Grace Baker, daughter of Danny and Audrey Baker, the main protagonists of Ms. Graham’s hugely successful 2015 novel Tides of Honour. Who is the young blond-haired man? See the submarine in the lower right corner? That’s supposed to be U-69 (although the image is definitely not that of a German WWII-era U-boat). Rudi Weiss was an officer on the boat. How did he and Grace meet? Well, it was possible they met at a dance in Nova Scotia when U-boats patrolled the east coast of Canada. Legend has it that one evening a small group of strangers appeared at a local dance hall. Ms. Graham seized upon that story to bring the Bakers and their children back to those readers of Tides of Honour who were clamouring for their return.
However, loyal readers may be somewhat disappointed that Danny and Audrey are relegated to minor roles in Come from Away (in fact, they sort of reminded me of Ward and June Cleaver) This novel is more historical romance than historical fiction, possibly due to the fact that the story solely takes place on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, and even though it occurs during the war years, the war in Europe is only visited in flashbacks. In contrast, Tides of Honour had some harrowing trench warfare scenes while Promises to Keep related the forced exile of the embattled Acadians and their trek through the wilderness of what would soon be known as New Brunswick to add to the suspense of that novel. Those two novels were firmly embedded in their historical settings, and Ms. Graham did a masterful job of making it all appear realistic. Here, the story of Grace and Rudi overshadow pretty much everything, and I was hoping Ms. Graham might get into the mind of Danny and his daughter’s interest in a German Nazi (since he fought the Germans in WWI) and that of Grace’s brothers, who are in the Canadian Army, Navy and Merchant Marine branches, just to give us a little break from the two lovers and add some soul-searching depth to the novel.
Suffice it to say that Come From Away will be savoured by those who liked Tides of Honour. (Personally, I liked 2017’s Promises to Keep better) Readers will be happy to have Danny, Audrey, the twins Harry and Eugene and little Norman back in a story of wartime allegiances, tragedy, love and family values. I rated it four stars on Goodreads.
(For an honest review of Tides of Honour, Naomi at Consumed by Ink has one here.)
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