Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Sand and Ash



I started From Sand and Ash tonight.  I like it a lot so far!  It starts with a priest trying to make it to safety.....that is not accurate.  He is trying to make it to a religious sanctuary that he knows.

And then the story goes to his childhood.  He is born in the US, but goes back to Italy to the home of his grandparents.  So.....I am listening to the conversation of two children both of whom have lost their mothers.  And he describes his mother as soft.  He says that his grandmother is trying to give him love....but his mother WAS love.  Hmmmmm....I do understand.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Irena's Children

In anticipation of attending the reading group's next meeting, I decided to read Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo as my next audible selection.  I have decided that instead of reviewing one book of my choice, I will comment on the fact that I have been on a WWII jag in 2017.  I was never a huge fan of this historical fiction subject.  But I read City of Women first .....what was happening in Berlin during this time period...then the Nightingale which told a story of what was happening in France in this time period.....then the Women of the Castle which was about life in Germany as the war broke out and as it ended....and then Under a Scarlet Sky which was about what was happening in Italy during the German Occupation.  This new book is about Poland from what I have read.

The Secret Wife

Gill Paul's book, the Secret Wife, is very entertaining.  It is a "what if" book based on real people who are documented as having lived at one time.  The story is told from the point of view of the great-granddaughter of Dmitri and in alternating chapters from the point of views of Dmitri himself many years earlier.

It is at the same time another story of the possibility that one of the Russian Romanov family members might have escaped death at the time the massacre the was ordered by the upcoming communist regime occurred.  This time it was not daughter, Anastasia, but an older daughter of Czar Nicholas, Tatiana.

I always like when the book ends with historical notes explaining that some things are proven true while the rest of the story is pure imagination.  And the author does do this for this book.  Apparently there are actual documents with information that Tatiana and Dmitri did indeed know each other during the time in which Dmitri was hospitalized for his leg wound.  And also documenting the fact that he gave Tatiana a dog as a gift.  But it is likely that both died in the early 1900s and that the rest of the story is a product of the author's imagination.  I was quite entertained.....If you are looking for a light read that moves quickly and does give one a bit of felling for an era, I recommend The Secret Wife.  I read the book via audible.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Beneath a Scarlet Sky


It seems that I am on a WWII kick.  In the last year I have read two books about Germans during WWII, one about the French resistance and now this one about what was going on in Italy during WWII.  The plot in this book is about a young Italian boy who is living in Milan during WWII.  His parents send him to the mountains for safety.  Instead of safety he is drawn into helping Jewish families escape across the alps into Switzerland.  As far from safety as one can get.  Then he is brought back to Milan and his parents insist on his joining the ....well.....let me paste into this a review from Amazon:

An Amazon Charts Most Read and Most Sold book.
Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, USA Today bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

The very interesting thing about his being a spy in the book is that we see the war from both the perspective of the resistance and of the Nazis who are serving in Italy in this time period.  I recommend this book as an opportunity to get a feeling for what was happening in Italy during WWII.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Women in the Castle

I don't usually write ....hmmmm that is not true....often I make notes as I read.  But tonight the words caused me to rush to my computer to "get them down" for my memory!

As the women and children spend the night somewhat in hiding as the Russian troops were in their "yard".....

Marianne and Anya sit in the kitchen.....they are waiting for the Russians to come to the door to get the last of the Snapps .....when the knock at the door comes, the women answered it together.....

The horse is on the spit...the men leave with the liquor.  And as the women sat together in the dark, a weird peace descended on Marianne:

She had found a partner and for the moment this was enough.

At this point, there are only two women who have joined her in the castle:  Conny's wife and son and Anya and her two sons.  Conny's wife does not seem to be a partner.....but this woman who Marianne has rescued and did not know before seems to pull her weight.  She cooks....something that Marianne is not well versed in.  She add something to the group!

So I will add one of the reviews or blurbs so that the blog post makes sense:

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined.....
 Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

Olive Kitteredge

I usually put some sort of review into this space.  But none of the reviews that I read tonight captured the essence of this book for me....so no review.

When Olive goes to her son's house to meet her new daughter-in-law who has brought children with her into her new marriage and is now pregnant with Olive's grandchild, I thought to myself:  I DON'T like this woman!  I don't care what happens to her....I am through with the book!

But I turned the phone back on and finished the book.  And was not sorry.  The last scene when Olive decides to climb into bed with her new friend gives one hope that indeed Olive will continue to LIVE and give her new friend reason to live as well.  That is what life is about.  Not living the perfect life, but making one's imperfect life work.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Ocean at the End of the Lane



From a review:  
“Fantasy of the very best.” Wall Street Journal
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.



I read this book because it is the choice for book club this month.  I am not sure that I will be able to attend, but the book was a quick and easy read.....so why not?  I liked the book.  My thoughts as I read this book were:  hmmmmmm...Why do we read?  To be entertained?  To learn?  To have something to do while we knit?  There are a million reasons.  I believe that this book was all about being entertained and listening to a story while I knitted.  That is OK.