|The commemorative plaque, on King's Square
Last Saturday my mother's younger sister celebrated her ninetieth birthday. They did not spend the day together, because my mother is here in the UK, and my aunt is in the United States. She was one of the young girls, the G.I. Brides, who married one of those American soldiers and followed him across the Atlantic to begin a whole new life. She'd known him eight weeks.
Hundreds of women made the same sea crossing that she did, at a time when trans-Atlantic travel was unusual and expensive, to set up home with a man they barely knew, in an unknown country. There were undoubtedly some, either naive or opportunist, who expected everything to be as it was in the Hollywood movies that brightened the grim days of the war. The majority were ordinary women, who'd met the man of their dreams, who happened to have a different uniform, a different accent, a different nationality.
These days a trip to New York or Las Vegas is something to do over a long weekend - just hop on a plane, and go. Keeping in touch is a matter of lifting the phone, or sending an e-mail. Many of those brides faced the possibility that they would never again see their families, or the place where they grew up. Their parents would grow old without them, friends and siblings would go on with very different lives, the only connection the flimsy blue form of the weekly airmail letter.
They were brave, crazy - and in love.
That's the spirit that every romance writer wants in her heroine - love beyond reason.
Magic, the stuff of dreams.