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Karl Vanghen's My Enemy, My Beloved Reviewed By June Maffin of Bookpleasures.com
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June Maffin

Reviewer June Maffin:Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.






 
By June Maffin
Published on January 6, 2011
 

Author: Karl Vanghen

Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minnesota

ISBN: 978-87839-384-8

When author Karl Vanghen visited a WW11 museum and learned that over 370,000 German POW’s were sent to the United States in 1945 and of those, 6,000 were sent to his home state of Minnesota to help local farmers with harvest because American farm boys were fighting in Germany, the stage was set for his next novel.



Author: Karl Vanghen

Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minnesota

ISBN: 978-87839-384-8


Click Here To Purchase My Enemy, My Beloved

When author Karl Vanghen visited a WW11 museum and learned that over 370,000 German POW’s were sent to the United States in 1945 and of those, 6,000 were sent to his home state of Minnesota to help local farmers with harvest because American farm boys were fighting in Germany, the stage was set for his next novel.

Henrik Arndt is an innocent seventeen year old who was conscripted into the German army. Barely three weeks later, he is captured at Aachen by American soldiers, becomes a POW and is sent to a strict prison camp in Iowa, the country of the “enemy,” far from home. Caught up in the political machination of war with all of its ugliness, hatred, discrimination and violence, Henrik now encounters POW’s who hold fast to Nazi propaganda and expect their subordinates to obey their commands without question in this camp. When Henrik learns of more humane POW camps, he yearns to be sent to one of them.

It becomes clear that Henrik is neither Nazi nor Nazi sympathizer and eventually is sent to a camp in New Ulm in Minnesota where security is minimal and prisoners work on local farms during the day. One afternoon, he encounters Elsa Summer, the sixteen year old daughter of local farmer and future employer, Harold Summer.

The friendship between the two young people grows and love begins to evolve. One day, Harold misunderstands a small loving gesture between the two as more than it was and protective of his daughter, reports Henrik to POW camp officials. Catapulted back to the misery of POW camp in Iowa, life appears bleak once again. It gets even bleaker as he is sent back to Germany. What happens next is not what you anticipate and is worth reading. Eventually, the American Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (Section 12) holds the key to now 18 year old Henrik and 17 year old Elsa’s futures who dream of the day when they will be reunited with “my enemy-my beloved.”

Much of the book’s charm lies in the reader ‘filling in the blanks’ of the letters exchanged between Elsa and Henrik during their separation after the war ended. A ‘less is more’ style (deleting everything after Henrik’s letter to Mabel and Karl to the sentence that begins “Elsa Sommer and Henrik Arndt” at the book’s conclusion) would have kept the reader “filling in the blanks” and encouraged romantic imagining. A concern about publisher errors: lack of pagination; front cover selection unreflective of the book’s content; back cover colour choices make text difficult to read. These must be addressed so that readers will be motivated to purchase.

My Enemy, My Beloved is a very well written novel … disciplined research; sensitive and penetrating portrayals of young adults; strong character development; subtle expressions of wisdom (Papa always knew how to settle things with soft words instead of spite, with suggestions instead of anger); ability to weave historical information about a difficult time into a well-defined plot; wisdom to throw a spanner in the plot before the reader becomes complacent and anticipates what will next happen to Henrik; and well-articulated question people continue to ask about the atrocities of war (Where was God to allow such things to happen … when they had done nothing to initiate the wrath of war?).

It is a book to read, learn from and delight in and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Click Here To Purchase My Enemy, My Beloved