Getting Sentimental Over You
Roger and Kristen Warner are moving into a Cincinnati residential area, when their new next door neighbor, Noble Johnson, is gracious enough to help them carry a few belongings. Later that day, he invites the couple to visit with him over a glass of lemonade in the pleasant summer evening. During the conversation, Johnson shares something else with them besides the refreshments. On this same date, in 1942, he encountered the woman of his dreams. Of course, Roger and Kris are anxious to hear the details of his story.
So begins Roger Karshner’s novel, Getting Sentimental Over You, a delightful nostalgic tale, recalling the heyday of the Big Band era. At first glance, a potential reader might assume from the title and the Bridges of Madison County-style cover that this is a book for the hopeless romantic. Getting Sentimental Over You, however, has more in store than simply another love story.
Karshner, an Ohio native, is a former Capitol Record Company executive and a successful playwright, as well. With Getting Sentimental Over You, he utilizes both his experience in music and drama to deliver a very enjoyable tale. His settings and dialogues command the reader’s attention. Also, big band music plays in the background of practically every scene, adding more dimension to the narrative.
Noble Johnson recounts the events of August 2, 1942 in precise detail. He had planned a trip from Cincinnati to nearby Coney Island. The main objective of this trip was to listen and dance to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at the Moonlite Gardens that evening. When his friend Audrey had to decline the invitation, though, Noble found himself with two concert tickets and an entire day at an amusement park, alone. Determined to make the best the situation, though, Johnson goes ahead. He boards the Island Queen, a riverboat traveling up the Ohio River to Coney Island. During the trip, Johnson runs into Amy Fox, a former classmate from his high school.
The couple’s attraction is evident; they click immediately. The two end up spending the entire day together. Karshner does a first-rate job of bringing the reader along for the ride. He evokes sights, sounds, tastes, and aromas to capture the essence of the swing era. Karshner definitely knows the craft of writing well. Practically every detail of the novel is as impeccable as Noble Johnson’s wardrobe.
There is a slight flaw in this story, though. At the beginning of the book, August 2, 1942 is on a Sunday; by its end, however, it has changed to a Saturday. (The actual date, by the way, was on a Sunday.) Of course, taking the quality of Karshner’s prose into consideration, this inconsistency seems somewhat minor. Who knows? It may even be intentional.
In the hands of a less-qualified writer, this story might be just another romance. Karshner, on the other hand, delivers more than a nostalgic walk down memory lane. The love story provides a background for something deeper. Getting Sentimental Over You offers the reader a taste of life in a different era. Even in contemporary times, though, Karshner’s work lets us know that we can take time to listen to the music, enjoy the scenery, and fall in love, extracting every ounce of pleasure and joy life has to offer.