The Roses Underneath
C.F. Yetmen
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Buy *The Roses Underneath* by C.F. Yetmen online

The Roses Underneath
C.F. Yetmen
Ypsilon and Co. Press
416 pages
January 2014
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Official voices, no matter whose they were, still made her suspicious. But, for now, the radio played American big band music and its rhythms glided through the air…
It’s 1945, and World War II is over, officially. But the rubble of war is still a constant reminder of death and defeat, and to people like Anna Klein, in Weisbaden, Germany, life is still tenuous and no one is to be trusted. Struggling to feed and protect her daughter, Amalia, Anna has secured a job working as a typist for the Monuments Men--US Army operatives charged with locating and cataloging artworks after the plunder of the Third Reich caused so many great pieces to disappear.

Anna’s husband has disappeared, also. His whereabouts are a constant source of worry to her, as is what to do with the bright and open-hearted Amalia while she ekes out an existence for the two of them. When she meets Henry Cooper, an American Army Captain on the Monuments team, she keeps her distance but soon finds herself embroiled in his world of intrigue. There’s a breath of life in the excitement that surrounds him. Each day she becomes more aware of the subtexts of war, defeat, and deception, but she also discovers that she has a talent for detection. Together with the hard-nosed and rather rebellious Cooper, she begins to assist him as they investigate a missing artwork and the layers of treachery behind it. Hanging on the coattails of Cooper’s crazy determination to do his job and do it right, even if it means stepping outside the regulations at times, opens a new view of her own people, and of their American conquerors. Meanwhile, she is forced to deal with the other mystery in her life: the choice her husband has made to ally himself with new oppressors--the Russians.

Author CF Yetmen (this is her first novel) reveals the trials of recovery from massive conflict starkly through the eyes of a single mother. She adroitly gives each her German heroine and her American protagonist a voice in sorting through the discordant, often contradictory remnants of a world blown apart, contrasted with the nobility of finding and preserving some of the finer bits of it. At first Anna finds the search for art relics almost trivial in face of the destruction she has witnessed, but gradually she finds salvation in it. She may, in fact, learn how to trust again.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2014

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