Steel's latest, a journey into the past, not only details beautiful love stories, it also describes the horrors of war under Hitler's occupation.

In Summer 1915, 20-year-old Beata Wittgenstein meets French officer Antoine de Vallerand while vacationing with her family in Switzerland. Because Antoine is Catholic and Beata is Jewish, both their families disown them when they decide to marry and settle in Germany.

Hitler continues to rise in power and persecute the Jewish people, Beata's family among them. Beata remains estranged from her family, builds a new life with Antoine and converts to Catholicism, the faith in which they raise their daughters. Their eldest, Amadea, decides to join an order of Carmelite nuns, but she, Beata and sister Daphne remain in danger because of their Jewish heritage.

Amadea joins the French Resistance. While working undercover with charismatic British colonel Rupert Montgomery, Amadea begins to fall in love with him, leading her to doubt her desire to take her final vows as a nun.

Entrancing and masterfully written, Echoes is a testament to triumph over tragedy. Fans will be pleased with this effort, which, through its use of historical detail, creates a true sense of realism. SWEET (Nov. '04, 324 pp., $27.00)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick