Beyond the Bukubuk Tree: A World War II Novel of Love and Loss
by Loretta Goldberg
MadeGlobal Publishing

"Life... was a mystery, often full of malice."

Like most gay men of the early to mid-twentieth century, Dr. Jake Friedman’s homosexuality is explained away as an embarrassing “tendency.” Thrilled to discover a woman with whom he can share intimacy, he proposes marriage early on, intending to fulfill his promise after the war. Jake feels drawn to volunteer after a tragic auto accident that kills a coworker and as a response to the fascist genocide in Europe and the Japanese invasion of the Pacific region that cast shadows across the free world in 1941.

Jake soon meets Alex Whipple (Wip) a handsome WWI veteran who is his polar opposite, a blue-eyed blond with a racy past and a rowdy devotion to social justice. The tropical climate with heavy rainfall, dramatic weather, lush flora, abundant fauna, and a fascinating, little-known indigenous culture make this exotic island paradise a perfect backdrop for romantic dalliances and medical interests. Jake and Alex’s forbidden love story unfurls in tandem with another young couple’s unorthodox union.

Award-winning historical novelist Goldberg melds biographical inspiration, historical fact, and creative fiction in this World War II novel. The protagonist, Jake, is a young Jewish Australian doctor who is modeled partially upon Goldberg’s maternal uncle Bertie, a doctor who served in Lark Force, a volunteer battalion assigned to defend Rabaul, the capital of Australia’s Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The author’s meticulous research, evocative writing, deeply introspective and compelling characters, an emotionally complex and historically relevant plot, and a unique setting make this an unforgettable story. Goldberg deftly explores loyalty and betrayal, inner and outer wars, error and redemption, and many other dualities. There’s much to unpack in this richly woven tale, but the writer guides readers through the scenes with a sense of natural ease.

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