A poignant story of love, loss, ambition and family set against the dramatic backdrop of the second world war.
Australian sisters Elizabeth and Maggie Cardwell have accompanied their father on his diplomatic assignment to Hawaii where bright blue skies, a radiant sun and the swaggering confidence of flirtatious American sailors make war feel like a distant threat. When the sisters meet the handsome Baker brothers on the sparkling white shores of Waikiki beach, Maggie falls hard and fast for Cody while Elizabeth discovers an easy friendship with his older brother, Tom, under the shared responsibility of chaperoning their wild younger siblings.
But mere days after the Cardwells board a ship back to Australia, Pearl Harbor is attacked and memories of sun-kissed afternoons and beach romance are fast eclipsed by fear and uncertainty.
With the war now very real to them all, the sisters embark on two very different paths that will take them to opposite ends of Australia, threaten their safety, and test their bonds of friendship and family. As the war continues to tear lives and loves apart, neither sister expects to cross paths with the Baker brothers again. But perhaps the pull of fate is even more powerful than the chaos of war…
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BUY We’ll Meet Again
Excerpt from We’ll Meet Again
by Cheryl Adnams
It was the worst Christmas Elizabeth could remember.
Maggie was even more sullen than usual. If she wasn’t worried about Cody being dead or injured, she was angry with him for not having written. Since their return to Canberra, she’d sat most days by the front window and watched for the postman on his bicycle, racing out to retrieve the mail when he arrived. And every day, she went to her room and cried in disappointment. It broke Elizabeth’s heart to see her usually bright and cheery sister so glum, and she’d spent hours in Maggie’s room consoling her. Despite the fear and trauma, Elizabeth couldn’t help but feel that this was the closest she and Maggie had been in a long time.
The full details about Pearl Harbor had been splashed across the front pages of newspapers for weeks. Every day there seemed to be more bad news. So many men were still missing, their fate no doubt a watery grave in ships named after American states. The Arizona, the West Virginia, and, yes, the Oklahoma—Tom’s ship. Next to the Arizona, the Oklahoma had lost the highest number of souls. She hoped and prayed that by some chance Tom had survived, but they had no way of finding out. Maggie had written Cody a letter every day since they’d been home, but all had gone unanswered so far. Elizabeth had to wonder if perhaps he’d been killed too. She doubted it, though, considering the loss of civilians was low. She just wished he’d write to Maggie, if only to bring her spirits back up and to let them know he was indeed alive.
Tom was another story. While Maggie worried over Cody’s lack of contact, Elizabeth dealt with her own grief, knowing that, considering the huge loss of life on the Oklahoma, there was a strong chance that Tom could have been killed.
While Elizabeth had shed a tear for her lost friend, and for all the men lost that fateful Sunday morning, America’s resolve had hardened. President Roosevelt’s ‘Day of Infamy’ speech played repeatedly during newscasts on the wireless, even in Australia, and thousands of American men enlisted in the days after.
Maggie and Elizabeth saw even less of their father than they had before. With so many men in Europe and Africa, Australia needed all hands on deck, and more and more women were joining auxiliary services to do what they could. Elizabeth could only watch on as several of her friends joined the Australian navy or the air force, frustrated that her parents still refused to let her go into any service.
‘It’s not an appropriate occupation for the daughter of a politician,’ her mother argued as they sat in the living room on Christmas Eve, listening to Christmas carols on the wireless.
Maggie lay on her stomach on the floor, reading the Australian Women’s Weekly. ‘Lizzy, it says here that Shirley Temple’s brother was in Hawaii during the attack. They haven’t heard from him either.’
Ignoring Maggie, Elizabeth turned to her father. ‘I can do so much good in the navy. Please, Father, I want to do my part for the war effort,’ she said desperately. ‘This means so much to me.’
‘Charlie Chaplin has given up his home to the medical division of the British War Relief,’ Maggie read on.
Their mother lowered her knitting with an impatient sigh. ‘Margaret, what are you going on about?’
Maggie sat up. ‘I’m just saying that everyone is doing their part, so why shouldn’t Elizabeth join the services, if she wants to?’
Elizabeth blinked, surprised at Maggie’s rare support.
‘Margaret, what they do in Hollywood has no bearing on the real world,’ their father scolded. ‘If you aren’t going to say something sensible, you’d do well to stay quiet.’
Tossing the magazine down, Maggie leaped up from the floor. ‘I’m going for a walk.’
‘Maggie—’ Elizabeth winced when the front door slammed. She’d wanted to say thank you to Maggie for standing up for her.
‘Your mother is right.’
Elizabeth slumped back into the lounge suite.
‘The navy is no place for women.’
‘Making weapons, driving trucks.’ Her mother shook her head, tugging on the wool that Elizabeth held for her. ‘It’s unseemly.’
‘There are more jobs in the navy for women than that. There’s telegraphists, telephonists, secretaries. I have a lot of experience.’
Her mother looked up from her knitting with a frustrated huff. ‘You have a fiancé in the army who expects his wife-to-be to stay at home and wait for him.’
‘It could be years before Fred comes back,’ Elizabeth said. ‘And he’s not my fiancé.’
‘Don’t say such dreadful things,’ her mother gasped. ‘He’ll be back before you know it and then you’ll be married. I’m sure the war will be over by next Christmas.’
Elizabeth swapped a disbelieving glance with her father.
‘Father, please. I want to matter. I want to do something that matters.’
‘And that’s admirable, Elizabeth. You are right that we need women to step up and take some of the load.’ He paused, chewing on the end of his glasses, an old habit. ‘Let me think it over. We’ll talk about this again tomorrow.’
On Christmas morning, Elizabeth loitered in the doorway of her father’s office, waiting for him to finish his phone call. Had she changed his mind? Would he allow her to join WRANS?
Author of contemporary rural romance and historical Australian fiction
Read more about Cheryl Adnams and her books
BUY We’ll Meet Again
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