BOOK DETAILS

The Knot of King Gordius

The Knot of King Gordius

by Peter Bundy and Per Andersen

ISBN: 9781523426164

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Literature & Fiction/Historical, Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

In 1939, seventeen year old Peg Kuhr leaves Denmark for New York to escape the growing Nazi threat. But Peg discovers she is pregnant by her boyfriend back home. The escalating war forces a devastating breakup with her Danish love. Peg eventually becomes engaged to another, but her fiancé isn't ready for children. Her son, a well guarded secret, she must make a choice between her husband to be and her two and a half year old child; an irreconcilable dilemma. Angst ridden, she chooses adoption and carries that secret all her life with her husband never knowing.

Sample Chapter

Surprise

By mid-November, the days had grown short, the sky was dark and brooding, and the temperatures had plummeted. The winter of 1939–1940 would be brutal.

As the war raged around Europe, Denmark remained safe from physical attack but was on a wartime footing in most other ways. All citizens had been instructed to sharply curtail water and electricity use. Gasoline was rationed, and the use of private cars was prohibited. The latter had no effect on the Christiansens as they didn’t own a car. The rationing of sugar did hurt them, as Flemming’s mother was unable to create the endless string of confections that the family loved and that psychologically helped take the edge off a hard winter.

At home, everyone wore heavy sweaters at all times as the restrictions on fuel use forced them to keep the house fifteen degrees cooler than it would normally be. There was always work at the smithy, which meant that Flemming’s father was warm standing in front of the fires of the forge every workday. The Christiansens were grateful that Flemming’s father had a full-time job, as there was a growing number of unemployed, with the country’s economy continuing to deteriorate.

Few believed the Germans would continue to recognize the nonaggression pact they had with the Danes. The police had instructed the residents of Copenhagen on how to evacuate, if necessary, and shelters had been established in case of air raids. The tension in the air was palpable.

Flemming was at home nearly twenty-four hours a day as there were no gigs available. Wrapped in warm clothing, he spent hours practicing either the saxophone or the clarinet every day. In the evenings, the family gathered around the radio to listen about the progress of the war. Flemming also tried to pick up some jazz music, but there was little being transmitted, and all radio broadcasting was terminated at eleven o’clock as an electricity-saving measure.

The family was seldom up until eleven, given electrical conservation. The temperature in the house was several degrees colder at night than during the day, so it was not unusual for the family members to seek the warmth of their beds by nine.

Going to bed so early meant awakening early, and one morning in late November, when Flemming was the first to arise, he saw the postman drop off the daily mail. Retrieving it, he was surprised and embarrassed to find a letter from Peg. He felt guilty for not having written her once since she departed for America, even though this was the third letter from Peg within two months.

Flemming opened the letter in eager anticipation and read.

My dearest Flemming,

Since the letters I posted to you when the Kungsholm arrived in New York, I have been getting settled in at the home of my aunt, Blanche Bruckner. I had given you her address before I left Gentofte. My younger sister, Joan, whom you have not met, is staying with our father, Frank Lynch, a couple of miles away.

The weather is so gray and cold here, which only intensifies my melancholy at not being able to see you, hear your voice, be with you. When I was a thousand miles out in the Atlantic, I could stand at the rail in the evening and close my eyes, and you were with me. The only solace I have today is that I can close the door to my bedroom, lie down, and have you materialize in my mind.

Flemming, how can we ever forget that magical evening together in August when we made love and, not knowing what would occur less than two months later, spoke of being together forever? The war is so cruel. Yes, many die, but many also have their lives turned upside down, dreams rent asunder.

So, my darling, here I am, thousands of miles away from you, tortured by our separation and, now, needing you more than ever, as I have just learned I am pregnant.

Flemming felt the blood drain from his face. His knees were shaking even though he was seated. He felt close to fainting as the import of the words sank in. Peg, pregnant, and he the father. Now what? His concentration wavering, Flemming made a weak attempt to finish the letter.

I definitely want to have our baby, and Aunt Blanche has been of great support. I hope against hope that you might be able to book passage to New York.

I know your musical career has been building nicely in Denmark, but New York is truly one of the world’s major jazz capitals, and I’m confident you would be able to find work. I’m also aware of the harsh realities of this war. Newspapers in New York speculate, if not state as fact, that Churchill has been trying to convince Roosevelt to commit America to the war. What then? Will that make the war longer, or shorter?

And then, I worry for your safety as well as your family’s, and that of my mother and stepfather. It appears there is no stopping that madman, Hitler, from taking over all of Europe.

So here we are in total limbo, with perhaps the only bright spot being our baby. So, Flemming, please, please try to come to me, and write as soon as you can. I need you and love you so much.

Yours forever, Peg

***

Flemming was a total wreck as he paced the living-room floor, rereading the letter three and four times in the dim light of the early morning, hoping, willing, it to say something different on the next reading.

Yes, he loved Peg. Yes, they had talked of getting married, but they were not even at the point of getting engaged and telling their parents. And now—now, he was a father-to-be, with the mother of his child thousands of miles away.

Flemming was agitated and panicked. He couldn’t even imagine speaking with his parents about the situation and quickly hid the letter in the bottom drawer of his bedroom dresser.

He loved Peg, but at the same time, he couldn’t leave Copenhagen, his family, and his music. He thought that if he could just hang on for a few weeks, the shock might wear off, and he might be able to suppress it. That was not to be the case, as the issue was too large to ignore.

***

On the last day of the year 1939, as twilight approached, closer to midafternoon, than early evening, Flemming bundled up and took a long walk in the frigid air. It had been below freezing all day long for quite a number of days, and the darkness enveloped Gentofte even earlier, as all outside illumination and lighted advertising had been forbidden by the government.

Christmastime and the New Year’s holiday had been especially depressing as everybody put holiday festivities on hold, both for practical reasons and in reflection of the general malaise felt by the populace. Flemming had only had a couple of gigs over the past two months, and while he worried about that, he was most concerned about the Peg situation. He still had not had the courage to tell his parents about her letter. Should he try to get to the United States to be with her? It was, after all, their child, and Peg needed him.

For the moment, the thought of going to the United States seemed to have some appeal. Life was hard in Denmark. Even tea and coffee was now being rationed. He had no work. How much worse could it be in New York?

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Knot of King Gordius" by Peter Bundy and Per Andersen. Copyright © 2016 by Peter Bundy and Per Andersen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Peter Bundy and Per Andersen

Peter Bundy and Per Andersen

Peter Bundy grew up in Rye, New York, graduating from Trinity College where he had a double major in English and Psychology. After government service as an officer in the Air Force and being a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he pursued a career in commercial banking, retiring from JP Morgan/Chase in 2004. Peter and his wife, Marilyn, have a blended family of three sons and two daughters, seven grandsons and one granddaughter. They currently reside in Gulf Stream, Florida.

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