An Editorial Review of “Paul, Betty, and Pearl” by Karl Larew

2016-12-17T12:15:41-08:00By |

In the summer of 1941, a ship approaches Honolulu. Watching on deck is young Army Lt. Paul Van Vliet, a 1936 graduate of Cornell University who then joined the US Army Signal Corps, in which he was trained in radar and radio/wire communications. WWII is well underway in Europe, and Japan has begun its imperial foraging for new territory in the Far East, but where will it stop? Could Japan envision an assault on US territories—or even the United States itself? Stepping up preparedness in Hawaii is underway. Karl Larew's excellent work of historical fiction starts with Paul Van Vliet's introduction to life and military duty in Hawaii. Paul's sister Dottie, married to pineapple and sugar plantation owner Sam Lauterbaugh, is delighted to have her younger brother so close and soon invites him to a dinner party. Paul is immediately attracted to another guest, Betty Lundstrom, wife of the often absent Navy Lt. Eric Lundstrom. The somewhat melancholy Betty is equally attracted to Paul. However, neither has any intention of a relationship beyond friendship based on a common interest in music and Paul's offer to give ukulele lessons to six-year-old Rosalie Lundstrom. On the duty side, Paul meets his superior officers, Capt. Bascom, as loose with his language as he is with his liquor, and Col. Tothill, very much the diplomat. Paul begins his assigned work—an assessment of what the Army Signal Corps in Hawaii might need to support a war in the Pacific. In the months [...]