Siberian Girl: The World is Round, Memories of Love and War 1942-1992 by John T. Cullen

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Siberian Girl: The World is Round, Memories of Love and War 1942-1992 by John T. Cullen In 1950, a hungry, frightened little girl of four stands on a desolate beach in remote, icy Siberia, looking east across the vast, icy Pacific Ocean. Holding her tiny hand is her young European mother, who tells her stories about her handsome but vanished young father (U.S. Naval Intelligence officer Tim Nordhall) and a wondrous land called America.

Her mother dies tragically, leaving the child alone in the world, except for her Russian caretaker, a kind but rough woman running a tavern in Anadyr.With luck, she is adoptedóby a visiting, titled French couple. They take her to Paris, name her Marianne, and raise her as their only child in a chateau amid wealth, privilege, and opportunities.

Marianne grows up to marry and have children, while living a rather giddy, dissipated life. Her children mature and become successful. Marianne, Countess Didier as she is now styled, harbors dark, turbulent memories of love and war that leave her no peace. When her dashing playboy husband dies in a race car wreck, Marianneís reality is jolted into new urgency.Now early 40s, she begins a global search for answers to the mystery of who she is, who her father was, and who her mother had been.

She visits places and meets persons that crossed paths with Tim Nordhall. We learn that she and her mother were kidnapped by Soviet agents and taken to Siberia as hostages. Stalinís police hoped to lure Tim Nordhall to find his wife and daughter so they could exact a cruel revenge for the fact that Tim had foiled a plot by Stalin to steal an atomic bomb off a San Francisco dock in 1945óone of the weapons destined for Tinian, to be dropped on Japan.Tim Nordhallís danger-filled, heroic career as a young Naval Intelligence officer begins in 1942 aboard a British destroyer that is torpedoed off the South Atlantic coast near Africa.

As the only survivor, Tim washes up onto a beach amid hungry lions, is rescued by Mauritanian slavers, and sold to a wealthy man in Timbuktou, Mali. He escapes with a pair of renegade Luftwaffe deserters, who fly him in a stolen JU-52 to the Belgian Congo, where he is recruited to become one the first U.S. atomic counterspies.

His adventures as a spy take him to wartime London during the Blitz, then to San Francisco where he will foil Stalinís plan. He spars with a Soviet master spy code-named Jaguar, who many decades later helps Marianne in her quest to find her father—the man Jaguar had been assigned by Stalin to murder.Framed by Marianneís search, the interior story is about Tim and his adventures in war and love.

The final phases take place in rainy, mysterious, jazzy San Francisco during the last months of World War II. While pursuing his secret atomic mission, he gets himself romantically coupled with some intriguing, attractive women. One is a dashing U.S. WASP (Womenís Airforce Service Pilots) flier named Corie. Her roommate, a sultry Turkish Jewish agent named Meg, works at the newly founded UN to help bring new lives to Hitlerís holocaust victims in a future free nation called Israel. And there is a Polish army nurse Tim had courted in London, who now reappears mysteriously in San Francisco, working as a U.S. Navy nurse, and strangely interested in all things atomic.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses, it's as if a sea were receding, and a tide going out that exposes the secrets of a lost century. Marianne's search frames our story, which closely follows Tim Nordhall's wartime adventures as a spy, and his women. The novelís subtitle (The World is Round) captures a key motif: that the trembling little child looking eastward across that icy night-sea from a Siberian beach in 1950 might one day somehow lock gazes with her future self, a successful but driven woman standing on a San Francisco beach in the 1990s, looking west across that same endlessly rolling dark ocean, as if to lock eyes with herself as a tiny child long ago. In a special way for Marianne, the world is indeed round, filled with memories of love and war.


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