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:
The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson — from Harper
Hailed as a “master of mood and shadow,” with a “gift for bringing the senses to life,” Deborah Lawrenson returns to the sensuous Provence of her acclaimed novel The Lantern in this romantic tale of World War II mystery — three linked novellas rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere.
THE SEA GARDEN
On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden’s owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian…
THE LAVENDER FIELD
Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life…and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.
A SHADOW LIFE
Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?
Ingeniously interconnected, these three spellbinding narratives are woven into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war — and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives. (publisher’s summary)
A Haven from Hitler by Heini Gruffudd — from Y Lolfa
This is a story of suffering and heroism, love and hatred, death and survival during the most destructive years of the 20th century in Europe.
Originally published in Welsh under the title Yr Erlid, it won the Welsh Book of the Year prize in 2013. It tells the story of the family of Kate Bosse-Griffiths, of German-Jewish descent, who fled the brutal regime of the Nazis and became one of Wales’ leading academic and literary figures.
In Oxford, she met fellow Classics scholar and Egyptologist J. Gwyn Griffiths, and they soon settled as a married couple in Rhondda, where Kate established the Cadwgan Literary Circle.
Meanwhile, her family, like hundreds of thousands of others of Jewish descent, suffered from Nazi persecution.
The story is based on hundreds of letters, documents and first-hand accounts by members of the family. They tell of the Nazi-inspired attacks of Kristallnacht, life under their brutal regime, efforts to flee and periods of imprisonment, and the horror of life inside concentration camps. (publisher’s summary)
Pride and Persistence by Jeanna Ellsworth — from the author
Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet — then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of her first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth.
This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, can persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence. (publisher’s summary)
The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid — from the author
In this Pride and Prejudice variation, a despondent Darcy travels to Paris in the hopes of forgetting the disastrous proposal at Hunsford. Paris is teeming with English visitors during a brief moment of peace in the Napoleonic Wars, but Darcy’s spirits don’t lift until he attends a ball and unexpectedly encounters…Elizabeth Bennet! Darcy seizes the opportunity to correct misunderstandings and initiate a courtship.
Their moment of peace is interrupted by the news that England has again declared war on France, and hundreds of English travelers must flee Paris immediately. Circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to escape on their own, despite the risk to her reputation. Even as they face dangers from street gangs and French soldiers, romantic feelings blossom during their flight to the coast. But then Elizabeth falls ill, and the French are arresting all the English men they can find…
When Elizabeth and Darcy finally return to England, their relationship has changed, and they face new crises. However, they have secrets they must conceal — even from their own families. (publisher’s summary)
A Dangerous Age by Ellen Gilchrist — a surprise from Algonquin
The women in the Hand family are no strangers to either controversy or sadness. Those traits seem, in fact, to be a part of their family’s heritage, one that stretches back through several generations and many wars. A Dangerous Age is a celebration of the strength of these women and of the bonds of blood and shared loss that hold them together. Louise, Winifred, and Olivia are reconnecting the pieces of their lives and rediscovering love, but each is unwittingly on a collision course with a seemingly distant war that is really never more than a breath away. By turns humorous and heartbreaking, this finely honed novel about the centuries-old struggle for women who are left to carry on with life when their men go off to war is by a writer the Washington Post says “should be declared a national cultural treasure.” (publisher’s summary)
Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist — a surprise from Algonquin
Master short story writer Ellen Gilchrist, winner of the National Book Award, returns with her first story collection in over eight years. In Acts of God, she has crafted ten different scenarios in which people dealing with forces beyond their control somehow manage to survive, persevere, and triumph, even if it is only a triumph of the will.
For Marie James, a teenager from Fayetteville, Arkansas, the future changes when she joins a group of friends in their effort to find survivors among the debris left when a tornado destroys a neighboring town.
For Philipa, a woman blessed with beauty and love and a life without care, the decision she makes to take control of her fate is perhaps the easiest she has ever made. As she writes to Charles, her husband and lifetime partner, “Nothing is of value except to have lived well and to die without pain.”
For Eli Naylor, left orphaned by a flood, there comes an understanding that sometimes out of tragedy can come the greatest good, as he finds a life and a future in a most unexpected place.
In one way or another, all of these people are fighters and believers, survivors who find the strength to go on when faced with the truth of their mortality, and they are given vivid life in these stories, told with Ellen Gilchrist’s clear-eyed optimism and salty sense of humor.
As a critic in the Washington Post wrote in reviewing one of the author’s earlier works, “To say that Ellen Gilchrist can write is to say that Placido Domingo can sing. All you have to do is listen.” (publisher’s summary)
Love in a Time of War by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson — free ebook
In this emotionally powerful WWII drama, children’s book writer Natalie Lucas discovers the many faces of love as she helps her beloved niece Mila escape the approaching Nazi menace in Hungary.
Natalie’s twin sister, the celebrated poet and professor, Anna Lucas, has succumbed to early-onset dementia, making the situation even more unstable for Natalie and Mila. Natalie and Anna’s personal and professional relationship provides an interesting subplot whch focuses on the foundations of sisterly love.
In the meantime, surrounded by violence and the threat of capture, Natalie must find a safe way out of the country for Mila. She eventually turns to her teenage sweetheart, Deszo, a Professor whom she rejected in order to marry her true love, Max.
The past love triangle between Deszo, Natalie and Anna adds further complications; however, Deszo may provide Mila with her only chance of escape. As Natalie and Deszo are thrown together by their mission to save Mila, their love for one another is re-ignited.
After the Nazis learn of Deszo’s assistance to the Jews, he and Natalie are brutally interrogated by a Nazi officer who has been following their activities, and their lives are in danger. After many doubts as to who in their community is friend or foe, the novel culminates with a heart-wrenching conclusion which provokes questions of loyalty, family and above all — faith. (publisher’s summary)
What books did you add to your shelves recently?
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