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“Keenly detailed . . .compelling . . . Author Golden proves his stripes as a historian, detailing the lovers’ brief bliss in prewar Greenwich Village, separating them for their individual battles during the war, and reuniting them in a skillfully evoked postwar Paris . . . The love story is epic and truly felt. In Kendall, Golden has created a fascinating, complex, and flawed heroine.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Each setting is re-created with a socially conscious eye, from the horrifying racism of the Jim Crow South to the Greenwich Village art scene to postwar Paris, whose residents’ emotional suffering hasn’t dimmed their appreciation for beauty. Julian and Kendall are independent, courageous people who grow over time, and their story feels undeniably romantic.” (Booklist)
“Using clear, clean prose, Golden brings emotional depth and passion to this story of forbidden love. A large cast of strong and well-defined characters, along with a colorful backdrop, allow Golden to create a clear portrait of the time and an epic story of love.” (Romantic Times)
“Illuminating! Wherever There is Light deftly shines light on the heartbreak of prejudice, the unbreakable ties of family and the enduring power of love. Peter Golden is uniquely qualified to write this sweeping and historically accurate novel.”(Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wind)
“Like the photographs captured by its heroine, Wherever There is Light is a soul-stirring saga of dualities: joy and sorrow, darkness and a gleam of something bright, things in reach and things just beyond the frame. This impossible, yet inevitable love story grasps your heart and doesn’t let go.” (Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home)
“A uniquely American story of two unlikely lovers on disparate paths who struggle against mid-twentieth century racial and religious intolerance. Meticulously researched and beautifully written.” (Amy Hill Hearth, New York Times Bestselling Author of Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society)
“What color is love? These words break our heart as Julian and Kendall spend decades attempting to reach across chasms of bigotry. Weaving histories of race and slavery in America, the Holocaust in Germany, and Paris after World War II, we hope against all odds for an ending of which we can be proud. Peter Golden has given us a gift of a book.” (Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage)
Wherever There is Light
“[An] absorbing story…Golden knows how to pique our interest…vivid characters and strong storytelling.” (The Washington Post)
“Wherever There Is Light is a love story for the ages. . . a sublime book.” (The Star-Ledger)
WHEREVER THERE IS LIGHT is a sweeping, panoramic, historical novel that covers three generations in the intertwined lives of two families—the Roses, who are Jewish, and the Wakefields, who are African American. Julian Rose and his love interest, Kendall Ann Wakefield, are the main protagonists of the story.
Julian was born in Germany to Theodor, an illustrious philosophy professor at the University of Berlin, and Elana, an orphan that Theodor met on a lecture tour in the United States. Julian does not get along with his cold, autocratic father and leaves for America at fifteen, where he becomes involved with the gangster, Longy Zwillman, earns a small fortune in bootlegging, and eventually a larger one in real estate. His parents stay in Germany until 1938, when Kristallnacht convinces them that they won’t survive the Nazis. In order to receive a visa to the United States, Theodor, who along with all Jewish professors in Germany, had been driven out of academia in 1935, needs a job, and he is hired by Lovewood College, a historically African-American school in South Florida. During the 1930s many of these colleges rescued Jewish professors from Hitler.
Garland Wakefield, the founder and president of Lovewood, is the daughter of a slave, Ezekiel Kendall, who ran away from his plantation after his mother was sold, and wound up, through his catering business and investments, as one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ezekiel is as autocratic as Theodor and insists that his daughter use his money to establish a college on the land of his former plantation (land that will be fought over by Garland and the descendents of the erstwhile plantation owners throughout the novel.) Garland has never been one to disobey her father. In fact, she married Robert Wakefield, whom she hardly knew, at Ezekiel’s insistence, but Robert left her and was killed in a car accident shortly after their daughter Kendall was born. Garland creates a successful college, and to honor the arrival of Professor Rose, she holds a dinner and invites Julian, who hasn’t seen his parents in three years.
At that dinner, Julian meets Kendall, a senior in college who wants, much to the displeasure of her mother, to become a painter.
And so the love affair between Julian and Kendall begins and goes on—and off and on—between 1938 and 1966. They have all the problems an interracial couple would have during these years as they move from Miami Beach to Greenwich Village.
Julian wants to marry her and find the joy that eluded his parents. The only thing Kendall says she wants is to be free. And it is Julian’s desire for love and Kendall’s desire for freedom that is the central conflict of their relationship.
When war comes in 1941, Julian serves in the OSS; later, he is an interrogator at the Nuremberg Trials; and then a clandestine operative in the shadowy years before the CIA is founded. Kendall has traded her oil paints for a Leica camera, becoming a celebrated photographer with a shelf of books to her credit. She is a combat photographer during the war and among the first Americans to photograph a concentration camp. Immediately following the war, Kendall moves to Paris, settling into the life there among other African-American expatriates, and Sartre, Picasso, and a host of artists, writers, and intellectuals. She becomes involved with Arnaud Francoeur, one of France’s leading communists and a former member of the Résistance and a man Julian fought with in Normandy.
Of course, the U.S. government is worried that France is on the verge of turning into a Soviet ally, so Julian arrives in Paris, investing in a jazz club but really there to investigate Francoeur and to try and rekindle his relationship with Kendall.
WHEREVER THERE IS LIGHT concludes in November 1966 and traces the fate of all the characters, both major and minor, as they struggle to come to grips with the fact they are all as haunted by the times they live in as they are by their own private battles.