Book Review: Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Setting is Washington State in April of 2005. The book starts out with Jolene Zarkades and it is her 41st birthday. The backdrop is the Olympic Mountains and Liberty Bay. She has two girls, five year old Lulu and twelve year old Betsy and husband, Michael who is an attorney. Jolene enjoys running in the mornings, is a very organized person for her family and is a helicopter pilot for The Guard. She enlisted in the army when she was 18 years old and had qualified to flight school helicopter-pilot training.

She had a mother and father who drank and fought and eventually died when she was 17 years old. She did not know what she wanted to do after graduation and decided to enlist in the army. She met her best friend Tami when she was 18 and their love for flying brought them together and they had a strong, bonded friendship. They lived next to each other, got pregnant at the same time with their first child and they went from the army to the Guard when marriage and motherhood made active duty difficult. Twice a week they would go together to practice flying the Black Hawk helicopter, each taking turns at the helm.

Earlier in the morning, when she had gotten back from her run she was getting the girls ready for school and asked where their dad was, he already left. Since it was her birthday it was disappointing that he hadn’t stuck around to at least wish her happy birthday, oh well he probably has something special planned for tonight. She always likes his strong work ethic and seems to make excuses for him.

She deals with 12 year old Betsy’s trying to fit in with the cool crowd and not thinking that her mom is neat, like many twelve year olds. She has a wonderful mother in law who owns a garden store and is very helpful. Michael is in practice with his father but he passed away unexpectedly and is having a hard time dealing with it.

Jolene and Michael speak later in the day and apologized for forgetting her birthday and she said it’s fine as long as we are together. He said he would be home by eight and she said they could have a quiet meal together. He didn’t get home until midnight.

He was having thoughts about what is ahead, what his life could have been if a different path had been taken. Things were becoming rocky at home. Michael has never looked upon the Guard as important, something she really loved. Her daughter doesn’t want her to come to school in her flight uniform. She has asked Michael to come to a birthday party that the group is having for her and he doesn’t want to because they are “her” friends and he has nothing in common with them. Eventually as Michael thinks about his life, he decides that he needs to tell Jolene that he doesn’t love her anymore.

Michael is also taking on a case where a 25 year old murdered his wife. His wife that he adored and they were planning on starting a family. This young man was a model person, had never gotten in trouble and everyone loved him. He had been in Iraq though.

Jolene and Tami got the calls that they were being deployed. She had to break it to the girls, to Michael and her mother in law. Most met the information with disdain. Jolene spent the next weeks preparing the family to take care of themselves. Making a notebook with all the information that she could think of down to what meal to prepare for what day. Her heart is broken over her broken marriage but her sense of duty is strong and she has to do this.

The book goes on and tells the story of what goes on in Iraq and describes what the days are like. She tries to not let them know how bad it is and always tells them that she is not in the fighting, but she is.

The coming of Michael preparing and researching his upcoming court case makes him realize so much. He also has to be there for his girls which took him awhile to realize and to get it together. Then, a horrible accident happened during a flight in Iraq. He and Jolene had limited contact while she was over there and he never told her anything before she left. He was very selfish and wasn’t proud of her and didn’t try to understand. Her problem was that she didn’t depend on him and always was controlling. Both were at fault and had to learn hard lessons.

I whole heartedly recommend this book. It helps the reader understand what being in a war is like, getting injured and the long road to recovery along with the family side of it too.

Book Review – The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel

This author was recommended to me by my friend Nan. I had said that I like history novels and she said that this author writes them, and she liked her very much. I have been getting some of my reads from the library which is so convenient, but I love the feel of real books in my hand. I also like to refer back to them when writing a review, so it hasn’t stopped me from buying actual paperbacks. Many times I purchase used also.

Here is my review:

Setting is Paris 1939, on the verge of WWII.

Two women, who are American but married Frenchmen.

Elise – is an artist, carves wood and paints and her husband is a well-known artist.

Juliette has a family owned small bookstore along with her husband and children.

These two women are both pregnant and due very close together. They meet in the park one day because Elise has an episode and faints. Juliette came over to render some assistance and eventually she gets Elise back to the bookstore and has the doctor come and examine her and then they become fast friends after that. They both have healthy baby girls who are months apart and they grow up like sisters together. Juliette also has two other children who are boys, and she had a daughter earlier who only lived 13 days and it buried in a nearby cemetery where she visits often.

As the war gets closer to their area Elises husband has been meeting with others underground against the Nazi’s and other bad players of WWII. There are times where he is gone for days, and this is a bone of contention between the two of them because she would like him to be home with them. One day he comes to her with papers that have changed her identity and their daughters also. When she examines the papers, she realizes that the daughters’ papers say a totally different name than hers. He has told her that she needs to get away because she has his last and if she and the daughter are captured then they will be killed. They are looking for him. She needs to leave the daughter in Paris with the papers and go hours away from there.

This tore her up and couldn’t imagine leaving her and walking away. There was a woman in their neighborhood who was Jewish and she made arraignments for her two children to be taken somewhere to be cared for and stay, hopefully, safe. She then went herself away also and finding another place that she had stayed for most of the war until someone ratted them out and they were captured and sent to a concentration camp.

Elise left her daughter with her friend Juliette and family to care for like their own. It was not an easy break at all like you can imagine and she found her way to Ambergene, France to find herself caring for children in a farmhouse where children were kept safe from the war. In the Authors notes at the end of the book she visited this area while writing the book and there was an actual place where the children were kept, and I am sure there were many of these places throughout Europe.

In Paris, back in the little bookstore all was relatively safe and quiet until the Renault Plant was bombed because it was making trucks for the Germans who occupied the country. A stray bomb missed its mark and hit the bookstore destroying it and most of the people in it.

The second half of the book focuses on the characters after the war and how their lives changed and what they did to live. Some moved on, others were mentally challenged, and some had still terrible things happen to them.

It took me a chapter get into the book but then it took off for me and I enjoyed it. Be sure to read the authors notes. It is a good historical novel that was released in June 2023.

At the End of the Year Book Reviews

I am catching up on the books I have read and not reviewed to start the new year fresh. I downloaded the library app so I can read in bed before I go to sleep. I take a muscle relaxer because I sleep on my back all night since I had a back fusion. It takes approximately 15 minutes before I start getting sleepy and having that app has been great. I have read my favorite author, Kristen Hannah four of her books in a short period of time. One of my problems is when I am into a book I have to read it to the end. So I am still into it when I wake up the next day. I don’t get much done until I finish it.

Angel Falls, released June of 2010, most of Kristin Hannahs books are set in the Pacific Northwest like this one. Mikaela Campbell is married to a doctor, Liam Campbell. She met him when she took her child from a previous relationship to his office for an illness. She had moved to the small town recently and the doctor was very smitten with Mikaela. They ended up getting married and lived in the country on a horse farm. As the children grew she was very involved in the school and was loved.

One morning she was in the barn and one of the horses got frightened and knocked her out. She was taken to the hospital and was in a coma. Her husband was told that she would not wake up but he would not give up. He would go every day and talk with her, play her favorite music, tell her stories, talk about the past and tell her about the kids. He was just trying to figure out a way to get her to come back to them.

He decided to go through her closet and found clothing that she had kept but hadn’t worn. He also found a bag that contained a large diamond engagement ring and a photo of Mikaela and a movie star, Julian True. She would not talk about her life before she came to Angel Falls and this was a clue to it.

After much soul-searching Liam hatched a plan to contact Julian True, someone from her past. Mikaela’s mother also was asked about Julian and she did not want to bring him back into their lives. Will Julian be the one that can help bring Mikaela back? She was just deep in her coma and there was nothing wrong with her brain. Please read it, another good book by Kristen Hannah.

On Mystic Lake, Released December 2007 This book starts out with Annie Colwater preparing to send her daughter abroad for school for a semester. She and her husband take the daughter to the airport. On the way home the husband tells Annie that he is leaving her for a younger woman and that he is in love with her.

Annie Colwater is left in a large home, by herself, a home that has her touch everywhere because she is the one that had the house built. Her husband is a successful businessman so they could have this kind of home overlooking the water.

She had given the daughter and the husband everything of her. She was totally blindsided by this as she had hoped that they could travel since the daughter will be gone. She is lonely and afraid and decided to go to Mystic, a small town in Washington State where she grew up and her father lives.

Annie slowly starts meeting up with old friends from high school. Friends that she had not kept up with but should have tried. She was shocked when she found out that her very best friend had died. When she tried to find out how she died everyone skirted the issue. Her friend had married the boyfriend that both girls loved. He became a policeman in the city. She finally went to visit him and found that he had a six year old daughter who quit talking when her mother passed away.

So when you read on you find out how the best friend died, how the little girl started talking and how the policeman overcame his drinking problem.

This was an outstanding read.

Winter Garden Released February 2010, I like it when Kristin Hannah’s books have a lot of historical basis. It took me awhile into the book to get the meaning of the title and later I had an Ah Ha moment.

There are two sisters, Meredith and Nina that come together to help when their father becomes ill. One is a famous photographer and the other runs the family apple orchard business. They have a mother, Anya who is cold and disapproving all the time. When they were younger their mother would tell bits and pieces of a Russian fairy tale. When the father was dying he asked for a promise to get the mother to tell the fairy tale all the way through.

That is when they take their mother to Russia and they learn about what their mother had to endure in Leningrad during the war.

I really had no idea about Russia during this time and the history was interesting. It also has a surprise ending.

True Colors Released April 2010. There is a father in this book who is a disapproving man and cares much about the family reputation and pines after his wife who passed away. There are three adult daughters who became very good friends One, Winona, is an excellent lawyer, but is overweight and would love to have her father’s approval.

Aurora is the middle sister who is the peacemaker and trys to keep everyone happy. She has a hidden pain.

Vivi Ann is the beauty, the dreamer, and is adored by everyone she meets. Vivi Ann lives on the horse ranch that has been in the family for three generations. It is large and they always need help. The man they had hired up and left one day so they advertised for some help. A stranger applied for the job and turned everything upside down.

To read on you will find out more about the stranger, who committed a crime and went to prison, whose loyalties will be tested.

Enjoy!

This book was inspired by a first book titled Dewey, by Vicky Myron. Dewey was a kitten that someone placed in a book return one January 18, 1988 at the Spencer public library in Iowa. As you can imagine it was a very cold day. That cat became very popular and if you didn’t know about Dewey or as his complete name is: Dewey Readmore Books you can learn about him within these pages.

So many people wrote to the library and told them about their cat stories that the author picked nine of them – get it? Nine Lives……to write this book. Cats that have helped people through tough times, illness, divorce, parents dying, children dying. I can’t go through every story, but I had to have my tissue with me. If you are a cat lover as I am, I suggest you read both books. They’re amazing.

Book Review: Wild by Kristin Hannah

This is my fourth and last book for January. It was such a good book, I could not put it down and it caught my attention from the first page. So here goes the review and I hope you decide to read it too.

The players:

Julia Cates – A psychiatrist in Los Angeles

The Zuniga’s – parents of a child who took a gun to school, shot and killed 4 classmates, Julia Cates was the psychiatrist of the child.

Girl – lives in the Olympic National Forest in a cave with wolves.

Ellen Barton – the Police Chief in Rain Valley, Washington

Peanut, Cal and Earl – Both work for Ellen Barton

Dr. Max Cerrasin – Doctor in Rain Valley

The towns people of Rain Valley

Setting: Los Angeles, Rain Valley and the Olympic National Forest

The first page of the book has Julie Cates driving to courthouse in Los Angeles. She had been named a defendant in a lawsuit. One of her patients took a gun to school and killed four other young adults. It had been covered for a year by the reporters and today is when the judge will determine is Julia Cates should remain a defendant in the case.

The next chapter is in Rain Valley and a young girl has been found up in a tree in the park holding a wolf pup. No one knows where she came from, she doesn’t talk, just stares and will not come down. Ellen Barton, the police chief gets there and tries to decide what to do and how to get them down. She finally got some food, and that worked. The girl got down with the wolf pup and sniffed the air like litter mates and then dived into the food tearing at it and eating. The chief had a net and tossed it over the two and they went crazy trying to get out. Then someone shot a tranquilizer into the wolf and he went to sleep. Then the girl got tranquilized too so the two of them could be moved to safe areas.

Next chapter, Julia is trying to get her life back after the lawsuit but everyone has canceled their appointments with her. Ellen Barton is trying to figure out how to find the parents of this little girl. Eventually, trying to get the girl to communicate with them they decided to call Julia back to help them. She has not been to her home town for years. Ellen also lives in the house they grew up in and Julia has trepidation about all of this. But she has nothing better to do and she is very qualified to handle this kind of case.

There is alot of mystery in this book that really keeps you wondering. Who is the little girl, how did she get there, why are there scars on her ankles or a deep wound on her shoulder. How long has she lived in the forest with the wolves? Mostly, who are her parents and they should be wanting her back? The town has taken her under their wings. She is their child now. The book is also interesting with the many different twists and stories that come out with the main characters. It of course doesn’t turn out like you may consider like it should.

As like Kristin Hannah’s books you always need to keep a box of tissues nearby.

Book Review – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

This is the third book that I have read in January. This book was very good, interesting, historical but left me very sad.

The characters in the book: Mariam – the illegitimate daughter of the housekeeper of a wealthy man who owned a cinema and was involved in other businesses.

Nana-Mariam’s mother

Jalil – Mariam’s father

The setting was Herat, Afghanistan, when Mariam was five years old.

When Nana was pregnant, she could not be the housekeeper anymore and Jalil had a small house built for her far away from the town, across the field and stream. It had a table and two chairs. Boards for clay pots, a cast-iron stove with wood was outside for winter. A chicken coop, with a fence and a few sheep.

Nana would tell her stories with a labored tone and it was like a heavy burden to bare. Nana would have episodes which were called a jinn. It sounded like epilepsy to me. Jalil had three wives and nine legitimate children and he would come to visit Mariam once a week on Thursdays and she adored him. Once a month he would send up supplies and Nana would be horrible to Jalil’s boys who brought the supplies.

Mariam spent her first 14 years in this little house without going anywhere else. When she was fourteen she wanted to explore, go to town, go to the movies. She tried to talk her father into taking her, he couldn’t though. He had made an empty promise to her and she had made her way into town. She walked around and found his home and sat outside the gates all night. They tried to get her to go home, she would, they brought her food and a blanket, but her father would not go out to her. The next day they convinced her to go home and the driver took her, when they got back to the little house Nana had hung herself.

Mariam had to go then and live at Jalil’s home. It was short-lived and the wives had found someone for Mariam to marry. A 40 year old shoemaker who had a wife who died and also a child who drowned. They needed to get her out of their home. Jalil would not stop it no matter how much Mariam begged him.

The husband is named Rasheed. He was good to her for a while. When she would become pregnant she would always lose the baby. It happened through the years and as each happened he would become meaner, hit her, call her names.

She was kept in the house and could only go out with him covered in a Hijab.It was a time in Afganistan where women could go to school, work, wear makeup, nice clothing, read books. Mariam was stuck with a mean husband and stuck inside a house working. Everything she did he complained, one time he said her rice was dry and made her chew pebbles and her teeth broke and he told her good, that what it is like eating your rice.

This story is broken up in chapters, then in parts. Part 2 starts out with people in their neighborhood. It is 1987 in Kabul. It starts with nine year old Laila and her good friend Tariq. He has an artificial leg and is two years older. This tells the story of their families and right before the war with Russia starts. Eventually the bombs will start falling and killing people and hitting houses.

Part 3 starts with Rasheed taking care of Laila, her home was bombed and her parents were inside. It was all gone, they had been getting ready to leave and sorting things to sell so Laila had been outside. She was not in good shape but eventually she recovered and Rasheed got the idea that she could become his second wife. Tariq and his family had already left but before they did he and Laila had sex for a goodbye. She had realized that she was pregnant and Laila knew she would have a hard time without a husband. She said yes to him and consummated the marriage quickly so he would think the baby was Rasheeds. She was treated like the queen and Mariam was even worse, by this time Mariam was 35 years old. Eventually they becomae friends especially when the baby really took to Mariam.

After the war involving Russia ended then the Taliban came in and they are horrible. They had all the rules that women could not do. They had only one hospital that treated women with no running water. Women could never be out alone and always had to wear a hijab or they were beaten. Laila and Mariam tried to leave but were caught and brought back home to Rasheed. There was hell to pay for that.

The story goes on with sadness and drought and I am going to leave it here. You will have to read it to know what happens to all the characters. What makes me so sad is I know that the Taliban are back in power now and it is back to the bad way it was before for women.

Book Review – In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

With my friend we send books that we like back to each other. Recently I received this book and the title perplexed me, especially when I got into the book. In the end it was good and the sign of a good book is trying to find the time while doing anything to read it.

So we have Dannie the female in the lead. From the first page on she is a very regimented person who lives by numbers. She counts to twenty-five before she opens her eyes. It’s a calming technique. Thirty-six, thats how long it takes her to get ready for work, that’s how long it takes to walk to work. She lives in New York City, and it would go on. She lives with her boyfriend David. Today Dannie has an interview with a top law firm, one she has focused on for quite a long time. That night they go out to dinner and have some drinks when they get home she puts on comfy clothes sits on the couch and falls asleep immediately. When she wakes up she is in a completely different apartment. She wonders if she has been kidnapped and then a man comes into the room. He seems to know her but she doesn’t know him, she looks down at what she was wearing and it is a dress she owns but didn’t have on the night before. They were going to change their clothes and he shows familiarity about the drawer that he opens and she realizes that he lives here with her. She takes off to the bathroom and trys to figure out what she is going to do, she needs to find out his name and decides to look in his wallet. Aaron Gregory, 33 years old. She goes out, looks him over and realizes that he is quite handsome. Further on in the chapter it becomes very erotic. Next chapter, she wakes up and David is back in the apartment. She is very confused. She tries to find out who he is in her dream. Dannie had gotten her dream job and 4.5 years go by. She had gotten engaged but they never found the time in four and a half years to get married.

Bella is Dannies best friend and she has parents who are wealthy and she has unlimited money. She usually has many boyfriends through the years. They last 2 to 4 months and then move on. She travels and owns an art gallery. Dannie is meeting her for lunch and Bella starts to tell her about her new boyfriend, Greg. She wants Dannie and David to meet him because he is “different than the others” and go out to dinner. Dannie agrees and when they get to the restaurant Dannie is shocked to realize he is the man in her dream four and a half years ago!

I have set the scene and don’t want to ruin the rest of the book for you if you decide to read it. I hope I gave you enough to pique your interest. I did like it and it took a while to understand the title. It’s not a long book, 251 pages, easy to read and quick. It has topics and questions for a book club in the back and it has a very nice ending though sad. I know that doesn’t seem like it should go together.

Book Review – The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

I have decided that Kristin Hannah is one of my very favorite authors. Her books call to my interests, history, romance, drama and family, I have read The Great Alone, The Nightingale, Night Road, this one, The Four Winds and I have watched the series made out of Firefly Lane. There are so many more to read and I look forward to each one.

This book starts in the early 1920’s in Texas. In the beginning of the book the farmers in Texas had great crop weather year after year and the wealth and abundance was high. Then the 1930’s came along and rain dried up everything and the dust storms started. They were not able to grow anything, the water dried up, the animals were dying from lack of food and water. The dust storms would just blow in sometimes for days. People would become ill from ingesting the dust into their lungs and stomach.

This was the time of Franklin Deleno Roosevelt and the New Deal but the dust bowl was slow to get recognition to get help. Finally, when a government official from the Conservation Corp. who had been touring the Great Plains, spoke with the farmers he met with resistance. Farmers are very proud and do not want to receive assistance from the government. Also what they were told was that they were part of the reason that caused the dust bowl. That did not go over well, of course. By getting rid of the natural prairie grasses and turning the land into farmland then essentially nothing growing on it the dry topsoil would blow and blow. I remember from my reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder this was mentioned when they lived in Kansas and farming was so hard much earlier. The government wanted the farmers to turn their land back into prairie grasses again and the farmers would be subsidized for this. It was slow to catch on and people started to move to the west coast like California and Oregon with the promise of jobs.

The 25 year old female character in the beginning of the book was named Elsa. Her family was very wealthy and contributed much to the community. Elsa had been unwell when she was young, and the family treated her as if she was still sick and really didn’t think or let her be part of the family. She wasn’t listened to, wasn’t asked to be part of the fun of the family. She spent much time in her room, read a lot and did needlework. She was also made to feel she was ugly and no one would want to be married to her. One day she went to the store and found some red material. She decided to make a dress out of it and went out on the town. She met a young handsome man and one thing led to another and she became pregnant. The family found out who the young man was, took her to their house and dumped her off because she has shamed her family. This is really when Elsa’s life became interesting, and this family became everything to her.

She came to love the farm, learned things, worked hard, wanted to be a good wife and fell in love with her in-laws. She ended up having a little girl, then a boy and another child that passed away. Her husband couldn’t stand the sadness of the dust bowl and left the family, and they were of course, devastated.

Eventually Elsa had to make her way away from the prairie and took her two children to California. To drive hundreds of miles with so many others, across the desert to find a better life. Of course, it is never as good as they think it is going to be but Elsa and the kids learn and become strong and meet others who are in the same boat. These people who once had been wealthy but lost everything. I will leave it here, pick up this book, it is very good to find out how Elsa and her family survive.

Book Review: “Open House” by Elizabeth Berg plus more

This author also wrote the recently reviewed book Arthur Truluve which was a new publish. “Open House” had a copywrite of the year 2000, 20 years ago. There were similarities to each of the stories as that people who didn’t know each other moved in with each other. There were also spouse and parent deaths as part of the story.

So the story starts out with a woman, Samantha, trying to come to terms with the separation of their marriage that her husband, David, wanted. They were married for 15 years and had one son who was 11 years old. They were comfortable, lived in a nice home in a nice neighborhood. The husband just wanted more and she was happy with her life. She knew that he was becoming distant and wanted to go to a counselor and figure out the problem. He eventually moved out and she was playing the “what if” game in her head. She eventually had to figure out how she could stay in the home, work out the visiting arrangements with her husband for the son and she had to find a job to have an income. Still she needed more income and she decided to take in boarders.

The first boarder was a lady in her early 80’s with a boyfriend. The second was a young introverted Asian student with a very negative outlook on life. The third was a gay man. Through all these people she gained friendships. She also took a job with an employment agency where she had different jobs weekly. One was at a laundromat, another at call center that was not on the up and up and she was happily fired from it.

Through all this she had to see her husband move into a nice apartment, and have a girlfriend with the talk of marriage. She dropped their son off one day and he wanted to show his room and she noted that her husband had a white couch. She had always wanted a white couch but he knocked that idea down, now he has one. All this time she really missed him, missed the life they had, she had taken care of him, really too much. He had this yearning for something else and he couldn’t see how good his life was.

Time went on and she tried dates that her mother set up for her. Her mother was something else and thought her daughter should just start dating right a way, after all that’s what she did when her husband died. It always bothered her daughter and eventually she realized that was how her mother had coped with his death.

Throughout this book we will live the roller coaster ride of Samantha finding her self confidence that she had totally lost due to the separation. She had always given into David and he got whatever he wanted. His family had money and he pretty much got what he wanted there and had strong opinions about having things “just so” for himself.

I liked this book, it didn’t make me want to read it in one day but it had its moments. I would say, “give it a try”.

Our house is in disarray right now. We have lived in our house for 10 years and it is time to paint and update colors. We try to do a couple of rooms each year but due to covid we didn’t have any painting done and are catching up. The last two rooms are in process. The kitchen is a called peppery and the great room will be a sage green.
I had tried the color on the wall and I believe it will be great. I have had to unload the two bookcases to be able to move them away from the wall. I really loved to become reacquainted with books I forgot that I had. The garage sale pile is growing too. The refrigerator has been pulled out and swept under, things have been dusted. It has been a lot of work but needed for sure.
Pavel had to see what I was doing this morning. He is such a sweetheart. Tom and I are getting our second covid shot this friday. I also had a cortisone shot in my knees, and they feel better so still waiting to see how long it lasts. Trying to get through the summer before I have anything done permanantly.
Our newly painted foyer. I love it and the door is a deeper color. We always have a lawn service come out and clean up the landscaping. It lasts all growing season and I have to just trim up plants that grow a little wild. We had a spicket added near our well head, and that tore up some plants and uneven ground. Having that water access will be worth it. The last thing we will have done is getting our carpets cleaned. Then we can sit back and enjoy the hard work.
Here is a great picture of a morning moon that I took recently. I like to have pictures for reference and the sky was so blue and it was clear.

A quote that made me laugh.

An intellectual is someone who can listen to the “William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

If you have any questions or want to contact me send a note. I would love to hear from you.

Book Review – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Kristen Hannah is one of my favorite authors. I have not read a book of hers that I did not like. This is a historical novel and she wrote in her notes at the end that tried to be as historically accurate as possible.

I gained knowledge from this book, for example I honestly did not realize that France during WWII had surrendered to Germany early on in the war. I don’t know how I missed this but always imagined that they were in the air and on the ground in the fight.

I had read “Returned to Auschwitz” years ago and it left such an indelible mark on me. It was an awful book that told of the horrible conditions from the Nazi’s that I have never forgotten it. Not awful because of the writing, just the horrifying content. This book left the same feeling and for a day I was depressed.

“The Nightengale” spotlights the women of the French Resistance who saved Jewish children and rescued downed airmen to help them back to their country so that they may fly again to fight.

Picture Paris being overrun by the Nazi’s with Nazi flags flying everywhere. The rounding up of Jewish people and the yellow stars having to go on their clothing marking them as Jewish and the atrocities that happened to them.

The book starts out in the year 1995 in Oregon. An elderly woman is telling about her house being for sale and that she will be moving into assisted living. She is leaving a home that she has lived in for over 50 years and her husband has passed away not too long ago but her son is watching over her and he feels it would be better for her to move.

She also talks about a life she once had in France, a life that her son knows nothing about. She left it behind after the war and she and her husband and children moved to America.

The book bounces back and forth from America to France in 1939. A woman has a young daughter and her husband has been mobilized to go into the war. But they will be able to take care of the Germans and the war won’t go on long, he will be back home soon.

But the war doesn’t end soon, and French army was being beaten by the Germans and most of the country surrenders. The little French town that they live in has the Nazi army take it over and ever so slowly it keeps putting stipulations on the French people. Taking the food, taking the art, taking the furniture, learn who the Jews, homosexuals, communists and Freemasons are. Then the Nazi’s would gather up targeted people and put them on trains to go to concentration camps. Radios were confiscated so they would not have contact with the outside world along with valuables and clothes. They had to go through cold winters, and would put on layers of clothing so that they could stay warm. There would not be wood to burn for heat. They had to stand in line for rations of food daily and if you were the last in line you may not get anything. All the while the Nazi’s were eating well, staying warm, taking all the best for themselves and wasting food. The rest were losing weight and becoming gaunt, getting sick and dying.

The book centers on two women, sisters, who were very different but brave by what they went through. Chapter by chapter it would go back and forth between what the sisters were doing during the war. One stayed in the small French town and the other left for Paris to participate in the French Resistance.

By the time we get to 1944 in the book and life is just so destitute, there is hope when you read that the Allies are freeing the concentration camps and the Nazi’s are leaving quickly. This book is so well written I felt that I was living it too. Made me think about the waste of throwing away food and reusing items. It was interesting and depressing at the same time.

So, as I said before, there are two sisters. It has you guessing till the end, who is the elderly woman? Is it one of the sisters, or the daughter or even one of the Jewish children that were saved. That is where you have to read this book to find out.

I read this book in three days and it has nearly 600 pages. It had me captivated and it also made me wish that my parents were alive. I would have had so many questions to ask. My Father was a young man in the army in Italy and my Mother lived in the USA while the war was raging in Europe. My Father passed away 24 years ago and Mother 22 years ago but it would have been an interesting conversation.

If you like history, family love, romance and daring escapes I do recommend this book. War is Hell.

Book Review: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

I had noted in a previous post that a goal for 2021 is to read at least a book a month. So far so good so on to book number two.

The Characters are:

Arthur: an elderly gentleman who lives by himself as he had lost his wife, the love of his life, six months earlier.

Maddy: an 18 year old senior, who is very much a loner with no apparent friends.

Lucille: an elderly neighbor who lives alone and just reconnected with a high school sweetheart.

Nola: Arthur’s deceased wife

Anderson: Maddy’s one time boyfriend

Steven: Maddy’s father

This story starts out with a lot of sadness. Arthur visits his wife’s grave every day at noon and takes his lunch sandwich of peanut butter and jelly. He carries his chair with him and rides the bus with his sandwich in his pocket.

Maddy visits the cemetery often while she skips class because it is a quiet and beautiful place to think. She is bullied in school for being supposedly different and has no one that she has connected with as a friend.

Her father has no idea how to be a father for 18 years and he and Maddy have no connection either. He really shut down after Maddy’s mother passed away when Maddy was two months old.

While both Maddy and Arthur are in the same cemetery they begin to talk and begin a friendship and eventually find something they both seek. Each one serves a huge purpose for the other.

Maddy finds out that she is pregnant and tells Anderson. Of course she dreams that he is going to fall all over and be excited but he says that he is not going to be a part of this and of course acts like a dick and they part.

Maddy tells her father and of course he didn’t take it well either and was telling her what she was going to do, “get rid of that thing” and they parted ways too. He hasn’t tried to have a connection with his daughter for 18 years and now thinks he is going to call the shots.

Lucille is Arthurs neighbor who bakes wonderful treats. Her high school sweetheart sent her a letter and wanted to reconnect. They found after all the years there was still a spark and after a month they decided to move in with each other. They did not stay together in high school because he ended up marrying another woman and she had passed away. He had saved the ring that he had bought for Lucille in high school and he gave it to her. Sadly he passed away from a heart attack. Lucille was just a mess and Arthur helped her out of her despair.

Then the lives intertwine and it becomes very heartwarming where they help each other through the rough times. In their own ways they give what they have and it is just right. Along with that, they pull others into the circle of help and it is a domino affect without it being a conscious effort.

I recommend this book, it is an easy read and leaves a good feeling afterwards. My sister in law sent it for my birthday and said it was a nice book and hoped I liked it and she was right.