Land of Dreams by Peter Yeldham is this month’s pick for review. Peter is a screenwriter,  author and stage and screen producer of repute, and is generally considered to be Australia’s writer’s writer. His craftsmanship has ownership on some of this country’s most popular novels and screenplays – both film and mini-series. This month’s review is a brief glimpse into Peter’s seventh novel published in 2002. Firstly here is a synopsis of this wartime story of love, courage and the ties that bind.

Sam Delon is a young Frenchman born and raised in Japan. Florence Carter has led a quiet and lonely life in her native Australia. One meeting on a Sydney beach is enough to create a lasting bond between the unlikely pair – and enough to share a secret with the potential to transform Sam’s life.

When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Sam becomes an enemy in his own country and exists under the relentless scrutiny of the military police, sustained only by the knowledge he shares with Florence. They risk everything to stay in touch – but as the bombs drop on Darwin and Tokyo, their commitment to each other is pushed to the limit.

 The struggle of foreign nationals in both Australia and Japan is skilfully examined in this work. Sam resides in Japan at the outbreak of war however a two week stay at Manly beach with his dead mother’s sister a few years previously is imprinted in his mind. As his world changes Sam begins corresponding regularly with his Aunt Florrie in Australia only to be branded a traitor for conversing with the enemy when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour.

In contrast Florrie’s lover in Australia is a German refugee. Carl, a competent lawyer, is cited as a threat to National Security and Florrie quickly learns what ostracism means in a changing world where no-one it seems can be trusted. While she fights coupons, curfews and bigotry, Carl is eventually employed as an Intelligence Officer and sent back to Germany to prove his loyalty. In contrast Sam’s privileged position within the expatriate community – assisted by being an employee of a French bank involved in illegal transactions –  affords him some protection as other foreign nationals are sent to the mountainous Karuizawa region where eventual execution is feared.  The horrific torture methods of the Japanese police, lost love, a kimono-dressing homosexual, distrust and corporate greed are all bought convincingly together in this narrative which explores both the idyllic pre-war days and the shocking impact of war.