[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…
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.