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The Last Valentine: 04/22/09
Twoo wuv, the bread and butter of romance and inspirational fictional. Where would we be without that first moment of two strangers realizing they are soul mates. Now add put in a war to keep the lovers apart from their happily ever after and you either get a tragedy or you get schmaltz. The Last Valentine by James Michael Pratt is the latter.
February 14, 1944 Caroline Thomas says goodbye to her husband as he ships off the Pacific. They last embrace at Union Station in Los Angeles and he promises to be back in a year. Every year after that Caroline goes to the station to wait even though there is no evidence that he has survived the war. In the present, Caroline's son from that very short marriage tells this story of eternal love to a local television reporter and together they witness the miraculous return of the missing husband. Because of course twoo wuv transcends everything.
The World War Two pieces of the book are interesting. As a historical novel, The Last Valentine is pretty good. The details are convincing and the coverage of the war has some dramatic moments. Likewise, the reporter's skeptical approach the son's story has some mystery and could have been fine by itself. The weaving of the two together with the over-wrought theme of true love didn't work for me.
If Caroline and Neil had known each other longer and been married longer their love for each other would have felt more real. Caroline's devotion to a husband she knew only for a few months doesn't explain why after fifty years of waiting she hasn't moved on with her life. I know that present day me with nearly two decades of shard experiences with my husband would be far more willing to wait for him to return if he disappeared than I would have been at the start of our relationship. For a better and more believable example of transcendent true love, read Persistence of Memory by J. M. Snyder.