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Reading wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Yep, another World War II story.  I actually didn’t like this book in the beginning.  But then as the story unfolded I began to enjoy it solely because it takes a different angle on the Nazi Germany story.  The view from the German side.  Not the Nazi side, but the German people and women in particular who learn to survive under Nazi rule, doing whatever it takes.

    The focus is on Anna Schlemmer, the mother of Trudy a professor of German History in Minneapolis.  Anna was in Germany during the war, but has refused to talk about it all her life. For fifty years Anna has remained silent about what happened to her and Trudy (only three at the time) during the war. Until Trudy begins to uncover details about her mother, her father and what really happened in the small town German town during WWII.

    Heartbreaking story of Anna Schlemmer’s life, love and loss.

    A story of resistance, love, regret and ultimately judgement for a family and those they loved.  It’s a timely tale – one with a message we should all consider.  What did we know, what did we ignore, what survival tactics did we use, and in the end, who suffered because of it.  A timeless question.

    Three stars for Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Read last week’s review of Ahab’s Wife.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Epic.  An overused word.  And yet, I can’t think of another one to use here.  Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund is Epic.

    More than 700 pages, this story follows the life of Una, a child in Kentucky in the early 1800’s enduring a childhood with an abusive father who rants bible verses and cannot show love to her.  At age 12 Una is sent to live with her aunt and uncle who are lighthouse keepers on an island in New England.  Her second life unfolds on the island with a loving family and an education, yet she yearns for something more. Something she can’t imagine but knows is out there.  She begins to understand her future has more in store for her when two young men, Kit and Giles, arrive on the island.

    My favorite part of the novel begins when Una takes her life into her own hands and adventure ensues.  The third life of Una is a remarkable journey when she masquerades as a boy and stows away on board a whaling vessel out of Nantucket.  The nerve of this young girl to pull this off!  I was enraptured in this tale of life and death on the high sea.  And there is a lot of death.  A dangerous business is whaling and Una (known as a boy as Ulysses) experiences everything onboard from suicide, drowning, sickness, fierce storms and eventually cannibalism.  I couldn’t stop reading.

    BUT I had to stop reading because it took me forever to get this far in the book, and my three-week library loan of the kindle edition was up.  Argh!  I had to go back on the waiting list to finish the story.  Six weeks went by before I was able to once again join Una’s odyssey.

    Una finds herself saved (more than once) from death, is married (more than twice) in life and experiences the loss of a child, a mother, dear friends, a husband.  She survives poverty and indulges in riches. Her intelligence intrigues her with science and literature and many people pass through her life that inspire and teach her and make her stronger. The author inserts numerous real life authors and scientists into the story that enrich Una’s life and the novel.

    She lives her life fully no matter what her current situation is.  

    But her fourth life, her life as Ahab’s wife is both the happiest and the saddest of her days.  For multiple reasons, all of which make the story so bountiful and an amazing read.

    I won’t tell how it ends as she begins her fifth life.  This remarkable tale is one of my favorite reads in a very long time.  It is a very long book, taking a major commitment to read, and worth every minute.  It feels like a biography, but it is pure fiction, fun, exciting, beautifully written and of course, Epic.

    This book is nearly twenty years old but I had never heard of it.  It was recommended to me by someone on Facebook but I can’t remeber who (was it you? Tell me!).

    Both my husband and I loved Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund. Five Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of The Velvet Hours

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review the Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review the Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

    It wasn’t until the end of this book when I was reading the authors notes that it became clear to me.  I knew that something seemed familiar as I got to the end of this novel.  And then I remembered.

    Alyson Richman became fascinated in 2014 with a news story of the discovery of a Parisian apartment that had been locked and sealed for 70 years.  I remember that story, and pictures of the apartment I saw online.  I too was fascinated because it seemed like something out of a novel.

    Well it now is.  Richman researched the people involved with that locked and abandoned apartment, and found very limited information on them.  And no information as to why this apartment had been left for 70 years, only to be discovered after the death of Solange Beaugiron, the grandchild of Marte De Florian who was the owner of the apartment and the fascinating and valuable treasures inside.

    So Richamn invented a story that takes two real people and puts them in a fictional tale that follows love and loss in Paris from Montemarte in 1888 to Paris at the beginning of WWII in 1940, to New York in 2010.

    An inventive and intriguing story.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for the Velvet Hours.

    Read last week’s review of We Were Liars

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review We Were Liars by e. lockhart

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review We Were Liars by e. lockhart

    I was nearly through this book before I realized it was a Young Adult novel.  That explained some things.  I have read many YA novels and I love them usually, but it’s helpful to know before you start.  Generally YA has a simpler writing style and plot.  And We Were Liars is all that.

    I don’t want to give away the big twist at the end of the book, but I knew it was coming.  It was a bit too obvious to me from very early on, perhaps that is because it’s a YA book.

    I enjoyed the book, a story of a ridiculously privileged and entitled East Coast family.  A family of wealth and prestige but behind the scenes they are unraveling.  The annual summers on their private island become fraught with loud arguments over money and inheritance, while children and teens listen and plot their own solutions that end very tragically.

    If you read a book called the Lace Reader, you will find a very similar end to the story – a bit of a disappointment for me, but I’m sure a heart-stopper for a young adult reader.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for We Were Liars

    Read last week’s review of The Enchantress of Florence

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

    I have never been able to really enjoy Salman Rushdie.  And I was hesitant to start this book. But I plunged in and found a rich tale – not at all like anything else I know of that Rushdie has done.

    The Enchantress of Florence is different.  Here Rushdie is a true storyteller in every sense of the word.  He weaves a magical tale of both fantasy and historical fact into a rich, colorful, epic and lyrical fable that winds from the ancient mythical Court of Akbar to medieval and powerful Florence.

    Part whimsy, part myth -at times the story became too involved and I lost track of what was happening.  At other times I was enchanted and found similarities to my all time favorite novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

    It’s a rich book.  Definitely a surprise from Rushdie.  But don’t tackle this if you don’t have the time to read it with slow and luxurious attention.  You won’t enjoy it unless you can let yourself fall deeply into this book and lose yourself in this complicated, impeccably researched and poetically told story.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for The Enchantress of Florence by Salmon Rushdie

    Read last week’s review of Belize A Journey of Discovery

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Belize a Journey of Discovery by Ann MacLean

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Author Ann MacLean tells a funny and truthful tale of her own Fab Fifties journey to discovery, in her self published work, “Belize a Journey to Discovery and Some Snorkeling”.

    MacLean, like myself, is a travel diva in her Fab Fifties, but her journey has come from a very different place.  Taking the tragedies, heartaches and sorrows life throws at you, and turning them into a fabulous adventure life. This is what MacLean has done.

    Her first book, “Belize a Journey of Discovery”, chronicles her adventures, backpacking as a solo middle-aged woman in Belize.  It is a poignant diary of observations of the challenges any solo traveler faces, but from the perspective of one well beyond the age of most backpacker, hostel-staying, snorkel-enthused, Belize adventurer.

    Our own fabulous travels will take us to Belize in March where we will spend more than a month.  Reading this book made me excited for that destination, and opened my eyes to several places I want to go in Belize.  Though still fairly new as a tourist destination, Belize has a lot to offer a traveler, least of all English is the official language.

    Thank you Ann MacLean for your honesty and spirit and for being a trail blazer for women of a certain age.  We are still Fabulous in our Fifties.

    Four Stars for Belize a Kourney of Discovery ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Find Belize a Journey of Discovery here.

    Read last week’s review of Slaughterhouse Five.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I’ve never read Kurt Vonnegut.  How is that possible?  I’m not sure, but in my continuing effort to find classic novels I’ve missed along the way I decided to tackle Vonnegut’s most famous work, at the urging of my husband.

    First of all, I love his writing style.  It’s like reading a letter from a close friend. Lyrical and poetic despite the topic of war and death and dementia.  Beautiful and easy to read with a comforting syntax.  In fact I read the entire book (226 pages) in just a couple of hours.

    Slaughterhouse Five, is an American Anti-War Classic novel written in 1969.  Despite its age it holds up very well even today.  The topic – war and what it does to people.  The story follows Billy Pilgrim, a time traveling soldier, and his crazy and demented world that includes being in Dresden Germany during the infamous firebombing of that city at the end of WWII. Billy’s life past, present and future unfolds in the story, not in linear order, as Billy himself time travels back and forth through childhood, marriage, career, war and mental illness.

    Is Billy real? Or is he actually Vonnegut reliving his own horrifying experience in Dresden? Likely the story is semi-autobiographical. A beautifully written story of the ravages of war on the human psyche.

    Five Stars for Slaughterhouse Five.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of Everything I Never Told You