Saturday, August 19, 2017

Inferno



"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

I loved these words....but I am not sure just where they come from.  Perhaps I will get that figured at the library meeting on Thursday.  

I balked at reading this book for the selection of the library group this month.  I read the first two books a long time ago (before  I began to blog) and thought to myself that I was finished with this author.  But I do like to go to the meetings and I do like to have read the book....so Friday, I bought this on audible. 

It was pretty much a shoot m up until tonight.  And suddenly Dan Brown got my attention.  I love the part of the Medicis!  The fact that the money that they spent supporting struggling artists was the main reason for the renaissance.  This book said that they actually moved Michelangelo into their home during his young life.  That it is their gift to the world ....the wonderful works of these young artists!  A rich family that supported monetarily the art being produced by artists who were living in their own lifetimes.  Such a simple concept.  Why does it jump out at me when I read it in a book of fiction while reading history analysis or the history section in a travel book I totally miss the concept entirely.  

Dan Brown also gets my attention as he describes so many of the sights in Florence.  His description of the Porto Romano area is altogether different from what one might read in a travel book.  

The Porta Romana, once known as the Porta San Pier Gattolino was the southernmost gate in the 13th-century walls of the Oltrarno section of Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. It stands at the confluence of a number of roads: accessed from north by Via Romana, Via de' Serragli, and Viale Francesco Petrarca. In addition, a central road along the Boboli Gardens begins near the gate, and allowed the inhabitants of the Pitti Palace to exit and enter Florence with minimal travel on city streets. Beyond the gates are the Via del Poggio Imperiale and Via Senese. The latter led to Siena and points south such as Rome, hence the name. When the majority of the defensive walls of Florence were razed in the 19th century, only a few, and sometimes partial gate structures were left standing including Porta San GalloPorta San Niccolo, and this gate with a snippet of merlonated wall.

While I was looking for the name of the Porta Romana, I found the below site in which the author discusses some of the sites mentioned in Dan Brown's Inferno.  Don't want to loose that idea.

https://www.visitflorence.com/itineraries-in-florence/florence-city-walls.html

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More WWII books from book club

I made my report at out book club at the Guyandotte library on Thursday.  My report was about my WWII jag.  And the main idea is that it is like the story of the blind men who "see" an elephant.  One feels his legs and compares him to a tree....another feels his tail and compares him to a rope.  Etc.  My books have been a bit like that.  Each of the books that I have read have told about how the war affects different places in that time period: Berlin, Germany, France, Italy, and the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw.

I had thought that perhaps I would get off this "jag" and read something else, but by serendipity others had read WWII books as well.  So whether I read them now or later, I wanted to put down some of the ideas,

Here are the WWII books that were suggested:

Kinderlater by Milton Gay Mieuwsma about the children of the Holocaust (need to check spelling)
Skeletons at the Feast about East Germans who farmed
The Maggie Bright about England and Dunkirk
And If I Perish a book about nurses in the Philippines
We Band of Angels about nurses in Africa
Story Teller by Jodie Picolt about the Holocaust

A couple of other books were mentioned of interest to me:

First I killed my Father (Cambodia) by author of Lucky Girl which tells about her life after she comes to the US
Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott about women spies during the Civil War in US
Frog Music by Emma Donahue

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Before the Dawn

I couldn't decide between reading one more WWII book or starting something else.  Sitting on the porch, the first book that I came to as I went down the audible list was Before the Dawn.  I have barely started, but I already have two ideas that I want to put down on the blog.

First is that almost the only thing that we have from the time period of the wonderful paintings on the walls in France is just that:  the wonderful paintings on the walls in France.  And those paintings were done by my own ancestors according to the DNA.

Second is the idea that it has only been since 2003 that the full sequence of the human genome has been available as a tool for understanding the history of the human.  I have been involved in DNA for genealogy for what seems like such a long time that I forget that it is such a new study.  I find my interest in the book waning and ebbing.  But I feel sure that I will finish it as I am truly interested in so many of the ideas put forth.  Last night I paused long enough to add a blog post to my main blog about the author's information about some of the caves that have been painted on in France.  The experts believe that some of the caves have paintings from at least two entirely different time periods.  And I remember in the Auel book called the Painted Caves, the people in the time period were beginning to paint in caves that already had paintings on the wall.

One of the most surprising statements in the book is that all of the people who now live other places besides Africa are descendants of a very small group of humans who left Africa (I can't do the date from memory...I'll try to look this up and add later) in one small group.  The first place that they settled was India.  But they were hunter/gatherers, so they probably moved there slowly as they followed the game.  Making sure that each move had fresh water, game, vegetation.  From there some moved East and some West.  There is DNA evidence that even the indigenous people as far south in South America as south Chile have a connection to this very small group of adventurers.  The people who came across the continent that existed between Asia and Alaska came in three groups.  All of them are the ancestors of our Indians as well as those indigenous people of South and Central America.  The last group to come across are the ancestors of the Alaskan indigenous people.

The author also explains that they were entirely different from the Neanderthals and it would seem that the Neanderthal people disappeared .....perhaps from having been destroyed by the new more modern men and women who moved into their territories.

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.

I finished the book last night.  It was a good book in spite of the fact that it was a bit of a romance.  Just a bit too much physical passion and the ending was a bit contrived.  Typical of a romance novel.  But the very good story line helped me overlook the fact that the romance genre is not my favorite.  It was a good story.  It is about the love between a Roman Catholic Priest and a Jewish woman.  It takes place during WWII when the young priest promises the father of the Jewish woman that he will protect her no matter what.  And he does.

I read it via audible.  I think that it was a good addition to my WWII books.

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.