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When We Meet Again    by Kristin Harmel order for
When We Meet Again
by Kristin Harmel
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2016 (2016)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Thirty-six year old Emily Emerson, who has just lost her beloved grandmother Margaret, feels very alone - her father deserted the family when she was a child and her mother died when she was seventeen.

Now her work as a freelance magazine writer ('the endlessly single woman with the dysfunctional family history writing authoritatively about relationships') is drying up. And she often thinks of the daughter she gave up for adoption 'half a lifetime ago' and the love of her life, Nick, whom she fled. But her best friend Myra won't let her wallow in self pity.

Then, out of the blue, she is sent (from an art gallery in Munich, Germany) a haunting painting of a young woman in a red dress, at the edge of a sugarcane field under a deep violet sky. A small note card says 'Your grandfather never stopped loving her. Margaret was the love of his life.' Who sent it and what does it mean? Emily proceeds to find out and the search changes her life.

Margaret's father has been trying to reconcile with her, but she had rejected his attempts. Now she asks him about her grandmother. She contacts colored Jeremiah Beltrain, for whom her grandmother was a 'guardian angel' when he was a child, and learns how she met the love of her life, Peter Dahler. And eventually, Margaret and her father travel to Germany, hoping to learn more there.

As Emily's research progresses, the author takes us back in time to watch what really happened. We see German Peter Dahler in a World War II internment camp in Florida - prisoners worked there for American farmers. The painting portrays the first time he spotted Margaret. Of course, they fell into a forbidden love, leaving Margaret pregnant as he was shipped back overseas.

It's an intriguing tale, concluding in the expected redemption for both Emily and her father, but what I enjoyed most were the insights into the Florida POW experience (of which I was totally unaware before reading the novel). When We Meet Again is fascinating and heartwarming.

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