In the last months of WWII, Pascale Tailland, an American translator serving in the U.S. Women's Army Corps bound west out of Germany with her unit, sees a refugee on the station platform wistfully contemplating her train. The refugee is dressed like a young man, but Pascale, intuitively knowing that it is a woman, pulls her aboard as the train starts to roll. These two women, thrown together by chance, torn apart by the destruction in wartime Europe, straggle to find each other again across a chaotic continent. The soldier is as fearless with her heart as with her ideals; the Polish refugee, who has survived years of desperation and danger, has the cunning of a wolf. In their attempts to reunite they are hindered, helped, and loved by many women. There's Nell Tulliver, international war correspondent -- hard-boiled, soft-hearted, and well-connected; Captain Corinne West, a competent and proper officer, unduly influenced by love as she bends military rules; and Sibylle Benard, a French prostitute and German collaborator -- a woman who got by as best she could by relying on the available men -- now falling in love with a woman. The Wolf Ticket is a first novel of great skill and imagination, tautly written and powerful.
The time and place is immediate postwar Europe. Thousands of displaced persons are unable or unwilling to return home, fearing that their wartime suffering would only be magnified. One of them is Bronia, who has been passing as a man until Pascale, a translator with the U.S. Women's Army Corps, sees through her and is smitten. Pascale's fellow soldiers warm to her when they think she's fallen for a Polish refugee "boy." In her efforts to get Bronia to the States, Pascale is aided by a host of accomplices, all lesbian or gay: a well-known news broadcaster, an upper-class WAC officer, and a nurse. Bronia, who since the age of 17 has known only death and destruction, has to employ her own cunning and charm, winning over and transforming a young French prostitute shunned as a Nazi collaborator. In this romantic tale of love conquering all, Bronia and Pascale are put to one final test: they must pass as a heterosexual couple if Bronia is to immigrate legally. Will they sacrifice their principles? Clarke's first novel is a tribute to the ingenuity of lovers in desperate circumstances. Recommended for large fiction collections. Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ
Plucky characters and Hollywood-style action-adventure characterize this pleasing first novel, set in Europe during the last months of WWII. When Pascale Tailland, a translator in the WAC, makes a split-second decision to rescue a stranded refugee, the wheels of a colorful lesbian romance are set into motion. The refugee, a scrappy young Polish woman masquerading as a man, and Pascale quickly forge an indelible bond and are almost as quickly separated by mischance. Each embarks on a quest to find the other and, along the way, each recruits a lively cast of characters to her aid. Clarke adds some depth and resonance to what is essentially a quick-paced swashbuckler by examining the refugee experience during and directly after WWII. All told, Clarke has created a diverting, unabashedly sexy romantic lark. (June)