CRANFORD—Local author Naomi C. Desiderio will appear at the Cranford Community Center on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss her two historical novels, Hell at Sea (2007) and Reunion (2010). The program is sponsored by the Cranford Public Library. Admission is free and all are welcome.
In Hell at Sea, Mary Ann Connor, and 18-year-old nursing student from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is captured by a German U-boat crew patrolling the east coast of the United States in 1942. She endures the terrors of warfare as the U-boat sinks several merchant ships and is, in turn, attacked by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. Eventually, the U-boat makes its way to Lorient in German-occupied France, where Connor receives an unexpected reception.
In Reunion, Connor, now 62, attends the 1986 United States Submarine Veterans of World War II Convention in Baltimore on behalf of her ailing husband. She is shocked to encounter the retired captain of the U-boat on which she had been held as a prisoner during the war. He has traveled from his home in Germany to invite her to the upcoming reunion of the surviving crew members of his U-boat. Mary accepts the invitation and, together with her grandson, flies to Germany for a grand reunion with her former “shipmates” at the Hotel Stadt Altona in Hamburg.
A Cranford resident, Naomi C. Desiderio grew up in Pennsylvania. She received a B.A. degree in English from Seton Hill University and an M.A. degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
A former support member of the U.S. Naval Institute, New Jersey “Tin Can Sailors,” U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II, Verband Deutscher U-bootfahrer, and the Roland Chapter of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans, Desiderio traveled to various ship and submarine reunions, memorial services, and conventions in the United States and West Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
She is currently at work on a novel that will link Hell at Sea and Reunion by recounting Mary Ann Connor’s perilous trek through France to Portugal and then on to New York via a neutral ship.
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