Francis, J.P. “The Major’s Daughter”, Plume, 2014,
Love in Wartime
In 1944, the rural town of Stark, New Hampshire received 150 German prisoners of war and this changes the place totally. But even more it that one family must choose between love and country.
Major John Brennan is the commander at Fort Stark and so he is, in effect, in charge of the Germans and his daughter Collie is to be their translator. Not only is Collie beautiful but she is an educated having studied at Smith College. She is immediately charmed by Private August Wahrlich, a poet whose life has been altered by the war and both Collie and August are aware that the war has now come home but they are so much in love that they do not the dangers that they face.
During the final days of the war there were also another hundred Austrian soldiers at Camp Stark and the prisoners of war were made to work as loggers and cut wood that was needed for the war. Collie faces a difficult time because she both is in love with a POW yet she respects her father’s authority.
Among the Germans was a loud group who were angry at the terms of their imprisonment. Collie who made them at their arrival was immediately taken by August Wahrlich and she considers him to be her “German soldier”. She knows that no matter what she feels for this man, the relationship was doomed from the very beginning.
Collie was not alone in her feelings. Her friend from Smith, Estelle, comes to visit and she is just getting a similar affair and she is now preparing to marry a man that she does not care for. As if that is not enough, local businessman, Henry Heights, is determined to have Collie as his wife.
Even though she knows that what she is doing is wrong (at least in hr father’s eyes) and she must decide whether following her heart is worth as much as betraying her family.
While this is fiction, I understand that it is based on fact and since it deals with forbidden love, it is a theme that we are familiar with. Author J.P. Francis gives us some very real characters and she writes about them in crisp honesty. This is a highly recommended novel about love that is forbidden and Francis handles it well.