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Like many people, I love the 1942 movie, Casablanca, staring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as the ill-fated lovers Rick and Ilsa. In fact, one friend encouraged me not to include the word Casablanca in my title lest readers become confused and disappointed that Rick is not the main character in Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn. It has also been suggested that people may be interested in any similarities between the book and the movie, so how about a little contrasting and comparing?
Obviously, both are set in the same Moroccan city, but they are set in different years. The book is set in early 1943 in the weeks leading up to the first Allied Conference, after the Allies took control of the city through Operation Torch in November 1942. For Rick and Ilsa, Casablanca is still under German influenced Vichy control and the Allied invasion is just a far off dream.
Pieces of paper are vital to the plots of both movie and book. In the movie, letters of transit have people lying and dying to possess them. In the book, a secret coded message sets Kurt and Sarah, the main characters, on the trail of spies, double agents, and murderers.
Rick and Ilsa love each other desperately, but being together is not possible. Sarah and Kurt fight falling in love with all their might, but in the end they can’t help themselves. Kurt and Rick, both Americans, are men of the world who know they face long odds of surviving the tasks that lay ahead of them. Rick is in Casablanca by choice. Kurt is there because he is a trained OSS officer with special skills that no one else can supply. Sarah and Ilsa really have nothing in common in their backgrounds, but they share certain characteristics. Both women are ferociously loyal to their friends, to those whom they love, and to their ideals.
Both Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn and Casablanca, the movie, begin in nightclubs, but the book’s action quickly moves into greater North Africa, including the cities of El Jadida and Tunis and the Tunisian desert. In the end, both the book and the movie reveal sacrifices that must be made for the greater good of defeating the Nazis.
While the book and the movie share a few similarities, the stories are on the whole rather different. If readers are familiar with the movie, however, they may be able to find the two very small nods to the movie embedded within the novel. Do you think you will find them?
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn
by Linda Bennett Pennell
GENRE: historical fiction with romantic elements
Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.
Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.
“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”
“Oh. It’s you.”
“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”
Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance with me.”
A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”
“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”
The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for everyone to see?”
“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a problem?”
“It certainly might if the people who tore my apartment apart followed me here.”
Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry. Not a particularly good combination for the covert activities he and Phelps were up to.
Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and pulled the door wide while raising his voice.
“You better come inside and tell me why you think what happened to your apartment has anything to do with me.”
When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl sat down.
Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked down into her frightened eyes.
“Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…” “Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”
“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”
The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face.
“By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.
"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn available 8/28/15 from the Wild Rose Press
Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5
Buy link for Confederado do Norte: http://amzn.com/B00LMN5OMI
Buy ink for When War Came Home: http://amzn.com/B010RXNZRO
Buy link for Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn