THE HAPPY IMMORTALS
Not often do I review a first novel, no
matter how heralded, and I fully
expected to dislike this one from the
publisher to review.
Wow! Was I wrong. This book from
first-timer Robert Boyd Delano breaks
so many barriers. Prepare to be
surprised and touched to the core.
First, the novel was written by a World War II
veteran, then it gathered dust when he went
into the oil business and spent a career far
away from the creative writing world he had
envisioned. A growing family left even less
time for writing.
Today, Robert is eighty years old, hardly the
norm for first-time novelists. But what he has
written in this amazing book is already making
waves in the literary world.
Delano's descriptive abilities are gritty at times
and utterly breathtaking at other times.
Without giving away the 1949-era story, Tom
Bristow, the central character, is a
soldier-turned-medical student who is caught
in a vise between his quest for answers and
his father's expectations. At the same time,
Tom is torn between three young women. He
met Higa on the island of Okinawa toward the
end of World War II.
Here is passage from the book, not long after Tom and Higa met:
“I’m sorry, Higa. I was just thinking how it seems like I’ve known you all my life.
Did you by any chance grow up in Oklahoma?” She laughed with him.
dirt though.” He looked away from the contours of her small, firm breasts dirt
though.” He looked away from the contours of her small, firm breasts pressed
tightly against her kimono, fearing she would accuse him of staring at her again.
Despite his best intentions, his gaze returned again and again to her enticing
After eating, they walked to the top of the hill that Tom had stood on the evening
before, the hill that Higa considered home to her ancestors’ spirits. Once during
the climb to the top, Higa grabbed Tom’s arm with both hands to steady herself.
Her touch filled him with an electric thrill, and he took her hand quickly in his,
climbing slowly to permit her to keep pace. She allowed her hand to remain in his
even after they reached the top of the hill and they had settled themselves
comfortably against the rocks to watch the sea. Just being that close to her, their
hands entwined, electrified and amplified deep feelings he had never
Waves be still
And quiet wind;
The Deep and Endless
Waits to speak!
She whispered the words to him in a rhythmic reverence that blended into the
waves and rocks about them and Tom could hardly determine whether they came
from her lips or the wind, or whether they came from her soul or the sea.
The green hills around them caught the brilliant afternoon sun and accentuated
the lavish red of the bougainvillea, wild cannas and hibiscus. Even in the midst
of a tropical battleground, life continued to burst colorfully from the blood-
Okinawa itself, it seemed to Tom, was such an ironic isle of contrasts. There was
so much conflict, from the pounding, rushing feet of soldiers bent on blood-
letting to the wholesale death and destruction so foreign to the happy immortal
The one constant was the sea with its incessant swish-swashing, its endless
tossing, rolling and rushing toward the rock shore, then back out again. It was
entertaining to see, but it was also awe-inspiring. He loved being near such
magnificent, smelling its briny odors, hearing the roaring surf and watching its
churning ridges break on the rocks.
Was it the sea that thrilled him so? Or was it Higa holding his hand? He wasn’t
sure, yet somehow it seemed certain that time and tide would someday reveal
what he was feeling so passionately and deeply.
Delano transports you easily from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Okinawa with such a
powerful style. Tom's angst comes through painfully in each situation leading up to the
unexpectedly poignant ending.
Once I started reading the first page, I couldn’t put it down! I've got an idea that you will
feel the same.
So there you have it! A first novelist has won me over. The Happy Immortals touched me
deeply, surprisingly, with the author's amazing descriptions and moving emotions that spill
over from chapter to chapter.
Don’t miss this one. New novelist Robert Boyd Delano speaks with an ageless storyteller’s
soul and voice to people of all cultures.
|Suzie Cho has worked
as an entertainment
and social trends
reporter in several
Pacific Rim countries.
Today, she spends
more and more time in
North America with her