Dale Pelton has illuminated modern history in a way that keeps the reader enthralled. Against a tender love story, conversations with recollections and numerous details depicting the traumas of modern and ancient war are brought to light. This volume of love and war has a poetic flow that makes for an enjoyable read. For those who enjoy deciphering the truth from legend, “Celine on Fire” will keep you fascinated beyond the point of just another take on history.
Young Celine is studying dance during post World War Two in Paris, where her beloved sister is a professor at the renowned Sorbonne University. As their lives develop against the Parisian background, Giovanni, a young Italian-American trumpet player becomes involved in the lives of both women. The historical facts flow throughout their conversations as well as those of the many colorful characters who enter their lives. African American Jazzman, Les Gordon relates the story of Emmett Till, a boy from Chicago who went to Mississippi and was killed because of an assumption of flirting; the flamenco dancer and political refugee from Franco’s Spain, Tomás Montoya pungently describes the American psyche being responsible for supporting McCarthyism: "He didn't create the fear, he just exploited it—Americans already had the fear." Marie Dvoracek, a painter in Prague, and Mansur Hashim, a Muslim African-American musician, contribute cultural theories on art and music—while dance provides an entertaining contrast to the grizzly historical accounts of a nation’s fanaticism and its destruction. From ancient to present times, the incredible stories of injustices, atrocities and hardships as well as bravery, altruism and benevolence move throughout the pages questioning the morality of world leaders.
Pelton's thorough research into the "whys and hows" of how we got to where we are today is highly commendable. However, this is far more than a historical account of modern history, it is an intimate story of a young woman coming to an understanding of herself and the world around her. “Celine on Fire” provides an enchanting center of the remarkable world that we live in. It is a big novel that is hard to put down because each chapter is an illumination of our American story that is full of fascinating facts, many of which are little known.