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Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves:

For review:

edge of eternityEdge of Eternity by Ken Follett — from Dutton

Edge of Eternity is the sweeping, passionate conclusion to Ken Follett’s extraordinary historical epic, The Century Trilogy.

Throughout these books, Follett has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families — American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh — as they make their way through the twentieth century.  Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution — and rock and roll.

East German teacher Rebecca Hoffmann discovers she’s been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for the rest of their lives…George Jakes, the child of a mixed-race couple, bypasses a corporate law career to join Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department and finds himself in the middle of not only the seminal events of the civil rights battle but a much more personal battle of his own…Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a senator, jumps at the chance to do some official and unofficial espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is a much more dangerous place than he imagined…Dimka Dvorkin, a young aid to Nikita Khrushchev, becomes a prime agent both for good and for ill as the United States and the Soviet Union race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister, Tanya, carves out a role that will take her from Moskow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw — and into history.

As always with Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.  With the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew but will now never seem the same again.  (publisher’s summary)

the summer of long knivesThe Summer of Long Knives by Jim Snowden — from the author

In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can.  But when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case.  Rolf’s investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage.  Ultimately, long-buried secrets and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the killer to justice in a country devoid of justice?  And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power hungry government?  (publisher’s summary)

Surprise:

the witch's boyThe Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill — from Algonquin Young Readers

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives.  Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived.  But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

Meanwhile, across the enchanted forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.”  When Áine‘s and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to stop the war that’s about to boil over between their two kingdoms?  (publisher’s summary)

Purchased:

my own mr. darcyMy Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place. (publisher’s summary)

day after nightDay After Night by Anita Diamant

Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa.  The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp who survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor.  Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to hope, the four of them find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

Diamant’s triumphant novel is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption that re-imagines a singular moment in history with stunning eloquence.  (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

remember the past

Source: Review copy from the author
Rating: ★★★★★

Darcy shut the door behind her, emptiness filling his belly until he sank into his favorite chair.  What was more troubling, that others saw his admiration for Miss Elizabeth, or that Miss Elizabeth could not?

He knew her to be upset, but the possibility of hurting her was insupportable.  Somehow, he had to rectify the misunderstanding.  She must not be somewhere in the world thinking ill of him.

(from Remember the Past, page 45)

I’ve said it a lot lately that Pride and Prejudice retellings need to be very unique these days to keep my attention, and Maria Grace’s latest novel, Remember the Past, certainly fits the bill.  As soon as I started reading, I knew that this was going to be different from all the re-imaginings I’ve read before.  What if the Bennet family had a fortune, so marrying off the daughters wasn’t their sole concern?  What if Lady Catherine was kind, grateful to her nephew for saving her and Anne from a life of genteel poverty?  What if there was no Mr. Bingley to win Jane Bennet’s affections?

In Remember the Past, Admiral Thomas Bennet has retired from His Majesty’s Navy and purchased an estate in Derbyshire after being thrown out of Longbourn by his scheming brother.  While Alston Hall is being readied for occupation, the widower Bennet, his daughters Jane and Elizabeth, and his twin sons Francis and Philip are invited to stay at Pemberley, where the widower Mr. Darcy lives with his sister, his mother-in-law Lady Catherine, his sons George and David, and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Darcy is immediately drawn to Elizabeth, who excites a passion in him that he never felt while married to Anne, but after a scandalous first season in London, Elizabeth cannot trust another man.

Even in these much changed circumstances, misunderstandings abound.  When Darcy admires Elizabeth’s willingness to sword fight with the boys while trying to put aside his feelings for her, she thinks the look in his eyes signifies his disapproval.  She also feels slighted when both her father and Darcy dismiss her feelings about Wickham serving as her father’s steward; she senses a littleness about him from their very first meeting, and thankfully the Admiral taught his daughters how to protect themselves!

Meanwhile, Bennet is a man used to delivering orders and expecting that they will be carried out, but he soon finds that the women in his life increasingly refuse to submit to his will.  When it comes to Darcy, Elizabeth isn’t the only one who needs to set aside pride and prejudice, as Bennet’s own happiness, as well as his daughter’s, depends on him doing so.

Remember the Past is a fantastic retelling of Pride and Prejudice not only because of the original characters — from the rambunctious Bennet twins and Darcy brothers to the menacing but gentle Piper, the Admiral’s valet — but also because of the huge risks Grace takes in leaving only the bare bones of the original novel intact.  It was exciting to read a retelling in which I could not predict anything, other than the ultimate happily-ever-after ending.  The novel itself was exciting as well, with everything from sword fights to dangerous floods, and if it hadn’t been for work and family responsibilities, I would surely have finished it in one sitting.

Grace stays true to Jane Austen’s Elizabeth and Darcy even while drastically changing the circumstances in which they meet and fall in love, but her delightful versions of Lady Catherine and Mr. Bennet drew me to the novel from the start.  Moreover, I never once missed the characters left out of this retelling (Mr. Bingley, Mrs. Bennet, the younger Bennet sisters, Mr. Collins, etc.).  Grace also does a good job balancing the heavier topics of grief, violence against women, and duty to family and friends with moments of humor and lightheartedness.  I’ve long enjoyed Grace’s Austen-inspired fiction, but Remember the Past is her best work so far, and I can’t wait to see where she takes these characters next.

Disclosure: I received Remember the Past from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves:

For review:

the garden of lettersThe Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman — from Berkley

Portofino, Italy, 1943

A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussolini’s Facist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodie’s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.

Written in dazzling prose and set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, The Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery. (publisher’s summary)

my mother's secretMy Mother’s Secret by J.L. Witterick — from Berkley

Inspired by a true story, My Mother’s Secret is a captivating and ultimately uplifting tale intertwining the lives of two Jewish families in hiding from the Nazis, a fleeing German soldier, and the mother and daughter who team up to save them all.

Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, are simple, ordinary people…until 1939, when the Nazis invade their homeland. Providing shelter to Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland is a death sentence, but Franciszka and Helena do exactly that. In their tiny home in Sokal, they hide a Jewish family in a loft a above their pigsty, a Jewish doctor with his wife and son in a makeshift cellar under the kitchen, and a defecting German soldier in the attic — each party completely unknown to the others. For everyone to survive, Franciszka will have to outsmart her neighbors and the German commander.

Told simply and succinctly from four different perspectives — all under one roof — My Mother’s Secret is a testament to the kindness, courage, and generosity of ordinary people who chose to be extraordinary. (publisher’s summary)

the darkest hourThe Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher — from William Morrow

London, 1946. The Nazis have conquered and now occupy Great Britain, using brutality and fear to control its citizens. John Henry Rossett, a decorated British war hero and former police sergeant, has been reassigned to the Office of Jewish Affairs. He now answers to the SS, one of the most powerful and terrifying organizations in the Third Reich.

Rossett is a man accustomed to obeying commands, but he’s now assigned a job he did not ask for — and cannot refuse: rounding up Jews for deportation, including men and women he’s known his whole life. But they are not the only victims, for the war took Rossett’s wife and son, and shattered his own humanity. Then he finds Jacob, a young Jewish child who touches something in Rossett that he thought was long dead.

Determined to save the innocent boy, Rossett takes him on the run, with the Nazis in pursuit. But they are not the only hunters following his trail. The Royalist Resistance and the Communists want him, too. Each faction has its own agenda, and Rossett will soon learn that none of them can be trusted…and all of them are deadly (publisher’s summary)

remember the pastRemember the Past by Maria Grace — from the author

Elizabeth Bennet’s father, Admiral Thomas Bennet, assures his daughters that his retirement from His Majesty’s Navy will be the start of a new life for them all. Little does he know his family’s battles have only just begun.

Well-connected and in possession of a good fortune, their entry into society should have been a triumph. However, their long-awaited first season in London proves a disaster, and the resulting scandal sends the Bennets fleeing to the wilds of Derbyshire.

Widower Fitzwilliam Darcy, the master of Pemberley, wants for nothing, most especially not a wife. From the moment the Bennets arrive in Derbyshire, Darcy’s neatly ordered life turns upside down. His sons beg to keep company with their new playmates, the young Bennet twins. His mother-in-law sets her cap for Admiral Bennet. Worst of all, Darcy cannot get his mind off a certain bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but she has sworn never to let another gentleman near her heart.

Darcy’s best efforts to befriend and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry, alienating first Miss Elizabeth, then her father, and finally endangering what both men hold most dear. Can the two men Elizabeth loves most set aside their pride to prevent catastrophe for their families and win the love they seek? (publisher’s summary)

longbourn to londonLongbourn to London by Linda Beutler — from Meryton Press

A courtship is a journey of discovery…but what do we know of the official betrothal of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet? We may assume there were awkward social events to navigate, tedious wedding arrangements to negotiate, and Bingley’s toplofty sisters to accommodate. How did Darcy and Elizabeth manage these travails, and each other?

Longborn to London is not a Pride and Prejudice “what if,” nor is it a sequel. Rather, it is an expansion of the betrothal of Jane Austen’s favorite couple. We follow Lizzy’s journey from spirited maiden scampering about the fields of Hertfordshire to nervous, blushing bride in Mayfair, where she learns the unexpected joys of marriage to a man as willing to be teased as she is to tease him.

Join us as IPPY award-winning author Linda Beutler (2013 Silver Medal, Independent Publishers Awards, for The Red Chrysanthemum) imagines the betrothal and early honeymoon of Jane Austen’s greatest couple. (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

jane austen's first love

Source: Review copy from Berkley
Rating: ★★★★★

“I take it, Mr. Payler, that you have never read a novel?”

“Never.  It is said that they are designed to entertain the weak of mind.”

“Sir,” said I with animation, “that could not be further from the truth.  Some novels might be poorly written, but in the main, I believe the opposite to be the case.  A good novel — a well-written novel — not only entertains the readers with effusions of wit and humour, it touches the emotions and conveys a comprehensive understanding of human nature — all via the simple and remarkable act of transmitting words on a page — while at the same time displaying, in the best-chosen language, the greatest powers of the human mind.”

(from Jane Austen’s First Love, pages 81-82)

The inspiration for Syrie James’ latest novel, Jane Austen’s First Love, was a single line Jane wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra in 1796: “We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of Him, on whom I once fondly doated.”  The resulting novel is a beautifully written tale of 15-year-old Jane Austen falling in love for the first time in the summer of 1791 on a trip to Kent to celebrate her brother Edward’s engagement to Elizabeth Bridges.  Despite knowing deep down that a match between herself and Edward Taylor, the heir to Bifrons — who has led a fascinating life on the Continent and even dined and danced with princesses — will never be, his intelligence, knowledge of the world, humor, and admiration of her impertinence make it impossible for her to resist him.

In this delightful novel, told from the first person viewpoint of Jane herself, James portrays Jane as a girl quick to fall in love, open with her opinions, and astute in her observations of human character and behavior.  Early on, Jane says to her mother, “I write because I cannot help it,” and I loved picturing her sneaking in a few moments to write while her mother insists that needlework is more important.

What I loved most about Jane Austen’s First Love were the references to her novels, from misguided matchmaking attempts reminiscent of Emma Woodhouse and the similarities between Jane’s relationship with Cassandra and the bond between Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, to Jane’s insistence that love could overpower society’s expectations for marriage.  Jane’s observations of the people she met certainly inspired the various characters she wrote, and James gives readers a glimpse of how that might have happened, and in her skilled hands, Jane’s family, friends, and acquaintances come to life on the page.  James even includes an afterword where she explains her inspiration for the book, details the research she conducted, and points out which aspects of the story are imagined.

Jane Austen’s First Love is a satisfying novel that gives Jane the love story that many of us imagine she had.  But more than that, it’s a portrait of a young woman who was ahead of her time in many ways, whose brilliantly composed stories and characters have stood the test of time.  James shows Jane Austen as a normal teenager, with a desire to act older than her age, an impulsiveness that prompts her to make poor decisions, and a romantic nature that ensured she truly felt the things she wrote about.  The few letters that survived provide the only glimpse we’ll ever really have of the real Jane, but James does such a fantastic job creating a believable inner narrative, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t actually inside Jane’s head reading her thoughts.  Jane Austen’s First Love is another book likely to turn up on my Best of 2014 list!

JA tour

Disclosure: I received Jane Austen’s First Love from Berkley for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week.  It is now being hosted at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s what I added to the shelves over the past couple of weeks:

For review:

safe havenSafe Haven by Anna Schmidt — from Shiloh Run Press

Suzanne Randolph’s journalism career is all but over…

So when she learns that President Roosevelt has invited nearly a thousand European refugees to come to America while WWII still rages across the Atlantic, she’s confident she’s found her story.  She heads for the shores of Lake Ontario to Oswego, New York, determined to make her journalistic mark, but is there more to life than restoring her career?

Theo Bridgewater knows God has plans for him…

Throughout the war, Theo has suffered the taunts and insults of others — first because of his family’s German heritage and then because of his pacifist Quaker beliefs.  Now his parents have sent him to Oswego to find his uncle, aunt, and cousin, and bring them back to the family farm in Wisconsin.  Little does Theo realize the journey will last eighteen long months and test the faith and resolve of this humble farmer.

And when there’s an undeniable spark between Suzanne and Theo, could it be God’s plan for these two determined individuals to achieve even greater things if they work together?  (publisher’s summary)

Giveaway win:

the paris architectThe Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure — from Silver’s Reviews

In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money — and maybe get him killed.  But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble.  All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it.  He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.

But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake.  The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.  (publisher’s summary)

Free ebook:

loving miss darcyLoving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley

Georgiana Darcy watches daily as her brother and his wife fall more deeply in love and dreams of similar love and a home of her own. However, after the disaster years ago with Wickham, she does not believe that any man will have her; thus, the idea of a Season in London holds no appeal for her.

Richard Fitzwilliam was tasked with watching over Georgiana and seeing her married to a deserving gentleman. The problem is finding a gentleman he approves of; not even his closest friends are deemed worthy of her hand.

When scandal breaks and all Georgiana’s worst fears seem to come true, will Richard realize in time how deep his affections run, or will they lose their chance at happiness? (publisher’s summary)

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

the fault in our stars

Source: Borrowed from The Girl
Rating: ★★★★★

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.

(from The Fault in Our Stars, page 125)

I’ll be honest: I never wanted to read this book.  It just sounded too depressing, and I read enough depressing books as it is.  But then The Girl read it, and it made her cry.  Book, movies…they NEVER make her cry, so I admit I was mildly curious at this point.  But then I thought, if it made her cry, then I’ll be a blubbering mess.  And then she BEGGED me to take her to see the movie, so I figured that maybe I’d read the book so then I’d know what happens and maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t embarrass myself by sobbing in the movie theater.

The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 17-year-old with terminal lung cancer.  An experimental drug has bought her a little extra time, and her mother, worried that she is depressed, makes her attend a support group for kids with cancer.  This is where she meets Augustus Waters, a charming boy whose cancer is in remission.  He is instantly smitten with Hazel, and they bond over discussions about Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, and her burning desire to know what happens to the characters after it ends.

Yes, the novel is depressing at times, but mostly The Fault in Our Stars is hopeful.  Hazel and Augustus felt real to me, and their relationship unfolded beautifully, giving them something to look forward to, something to hold onto when the only thing that’s certain in life (for everyone) is death.  John Green made me feel like a teenager again, and yes, I sobbed, dried my eyes and sobbed some more, but I was surprised how many times I also laughed out loud while reading this book.

My daughter and I saw the movie the weekend it opened, and it was a good thing I packed a handful of tissues in my purse.  It was a fantastic adaptation, and I have to agree with The Girl, who said watching the movie was like reading the book all over again.  And The Fault in Our Stars is definitely a book I’d read again.  (We plan to buy the movie, too.  I need to watch it in the privacy of my own living room because there were too many tears left unshed in the theater because I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself!)

Don’t let the subject matter, or the fact that it’s a young adult novel, stop you from reading this book.  I’ve told several people in the weeks since I finished it that it’s the kind of book that made me feel like I was hit by a truck, like my heart was ripped out of my chest and handed back to me…and I enjoyed every minute of that pain because there was more to it than that.

Looking at the world through the eyes of a girl who is facing the end before she’s really had a chance to live makes you ponder what it means to be truly alive and to fall in love.  The Fault in Our Stars makes you appreciate the little things and think about what it means to remember and be remembered.  I didn’t expect these characters and their love story to affect me so deeply, but it’s definitely a novel that will stay with me for a long time.

Disclosure: I borrowed The Fault in Our Stars from my daughter’s personal library.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

grand central

Source: Review copy from Berkley
Rating: ★★★★★

In those moments when she was alone, her body propped up in bed and a borrowed book she was using to study English on her lap, she saw her mother saying good-bye for the last time through a forced smile, and her father still holding on to her bag for a few more moments.  She didn’t want to look at those horrible photos in the paper and believe her parents could be amongst the piles off bodies or reduced to dark ash.  She wanted instead to look at the family photograph that sat on her nightstand and believe that they were still just as she had left them.  Father in his dark brown overcoat and stylish fedora, and Mother always with something warm and sweet in her hands.

(from “Going Home” by Alyson Richman, Grand Central, page 27)

Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion is a collection of 10 short stories that at some point bring readers to Grand Central Terminal in New York City on the same day in September 1945.  The stories are set shortly after the end of World War II, when refugees were creating new lives in America and soldiers were making their way home.  When I saw the list of authors and stories in this collection, I definitely couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it.

  • “Going Home” by Alyson Richman (The Lost Wife)
  • “The Lucky One” by Jenna Blum (Those Who Save Us)
  • “The Branch of Hazel” by Sarah McCoy (The Baker’s Daughter)
  • “The Kissing Room” by Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife)
  • “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Sarah Jio (Blackberry Winter)
  • “I’ll Walk Alone” by Erika Robuck (Call Me Zelda)
  • “The Reunion” by Kristina McMorris (Bridge of Scarlet Leaves)
  • “Tin Town” by Amanda Hodgkinson (22 Britannia Road)
  • “Strand of Pearls” by Pam Jenoff (The Kommandant’s Girl)
  • “The Harvest Season” by Karen White (The Time Between)

I don’t usually read short stories because I often feel like they end before the story takes off, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself satisfied by every one of these stories.  I couldn’t put this book down, and while I liked some stories more than others, in the week since I finished it, I still can’t decide which story was my favorite.

These stories are all unique in their subject matter, from a Holocaust survivor trying to get on with his life after losing his wife and daughters to a female pilot struggling with a different sort of grief and guilt, from a woman who dreads her soldier husband’s return to a young girl leaving her home in England to start a new life with her mother and GI husband in America.  Another story follows a young girl who travels alone from Shanghai to New York City to reunite with her father only to learn he’s not the man she thought he was, and Sarah McCoy lets readers know what happened to Hazel from The Baker’s Daughter, who joined the Lebensborn program.

Grand Central seems to perfectly capture the postwar atmosphere in a big city, with the chaos in the train station and the roller coaster of emotions within each character.  The changes in society, especially in regards to women and their romantic relationships and career aspirations, also feature prominently in some of these stories.  I was impressed not only by the character development in these stories but also by the ways in which the characters crossed paths with one another, which emphasizes how well this collection is structured.  If you love novels set during World War II or have loved novels by these authors in the past, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a copy.

war challenge with a twist

Book 16 for the War Challenge With a Twist (WWII)

historical fiction challenge

Book 17 for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Disclosure: I received Grand Central from Berkley for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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