This novel begins with Sydney Stringfellow, a young American swimming hopeful at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, meeting her soul mate, a very German dreamboat named Horst Gerhardt. After their whirlwind romance, which includes an unforgettable party given by Joseph Goebbels, the lovers part, pledging their allegiance to one another in spite of the ocean that will soon be between them, and the larger gulf of the disparate politics of their home countries. During the ensuing years, it all becomes too much of a void to bridge, and a letter arrives from Horst ending their love. Sydney, heartbroken, finds herself the object of a local New York boy’s pursuit. Although she is slowly falling for him, the ghost of Horst still lingers. Unsuspected, their fate will turn on the invitation to that party by Goebbels received so long ago.
Award-winning longtime sportswriter, author, and commentator Frank Deford takes his love of sport in an entirely new direction with this skillfully written historical novel. Told in memoir form, it falls on the ear of the reader like a conversation with a cherished old family member. Taking one in with its aw-shucks charm, it then turns and hits you like a well-crafted spy novel. This is good stuff, this Depression-era yarn with the punch of a war story. Although we meet many of the characters central to that Olympics, such as the American swimmer Eleanor Holm, Hitler’s movie director Leni Riefenstahl, and the dictator himself, the work is first a love story, and a lovely memory of a youth well-lived.
This is an unforgettable book by a top-drawer author. Recommended without reservation.