Purple Hearts

978-0-87565-362-4 Hardcover (Printed Case)
6 x 9. 368 pp. 7 b&w illus.
Pub Date: 04/02/2008
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Set during the turmoil of World War II, Purple Hearts is the story of the epileptic scion of an East Texas timber and oil fortune and his marriage to a stunning stranger desperate for sanctuary. Though naive and virginal, thirty-year-old Georgie Karacek wins Sylvia through his charm and kindness. Longing to prove himself, he then hides his illness to join the army. Sylvia’s relationship with Georgie’s overprotective mother proves difficult, so to make ends meet she takes on a boarder, Robert, in Georgie’s absence. Soon Robert and Sylvia grow close, and he presses her to run away with him.

When Georgie’s epilepsy comes to light, he is discharged, and on returning home he suspects that his bride and the boarder are lovers. But wartime conditions explode into rioting, and that uproar puts them at odds with the town when Georgie helps a black friend flee.

Purple Hearts is based loosely on events in Beaumont, Texas, in July of 1943, when shipyard workers rampaged following a rumor that a black man had raped a sailor’s wife. Several people died and scores were injured, and that riot echoed those in Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Writer/critic Bryan Woolley has hailed Purple Hearts as “the best novel I’ve read about the home front during World War II . . . [it] illumines the dark fact that there was more to that home scene than Rosie the Riveter and War Bond drives.”

Published by Texas Christian University Press