Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia of To Be Continued, where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday currently is on tour, and this month’s host is Notorious Spinks Talks. (Update: Apparently, this month’s host is MIA again this week, so Beauty in Ruins is filling in as host.)
Here’s what I received:
Pirates and Prejudice by Kara Louise
After Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy’s offer of marriage, it takes a heavy toll on him. He withdraws to London and disappears near the docks, away from family, friends, and acquaintances. When he is mistaken for an escaped pirate, he is thrust into an adventure he would never have imagined. Will this be what he needs to forget the one woman he had come to love?
When her aunt and uncle have to cancel their plans to tour the Lake District, Elizabeth Bennet has the opportunity to sail to the Isles of Scilly with her father. After a pleasant visit, the voyage home brings storms, a shipwreck, and pirates! When she is rescued by gallant Captain Smith, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. What will she do when she discovers he is the very man whose offer of marriage she refused just a few months earlier? (publisher’s summary)
From the library sale (I spent a whopping $5 total!):
Mr. Darcy’s Dream by Elizabeth Aston
When Phoebe, a young niece of Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Darcy, is shattered by an unhappy romance, she retreats to Pemberley and is joined by kind-hearted Louisa Bingley, unmarried after three London seasons. Once the young ladies are situated in the house, several handsome strangers also arrive — all hopeful of winning the girls’ hearts. As preparations for the ball which Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are to give at Pemberley gain momentum, mischief and love triangles abound, making life as difficult as possible for anyone connected with the Darcy family.
Populated with authentic characters firmly rooted in Jane Austen’s mores and stylistic traditions, Mr. Darcy’s Dream has an unforgettable combination of romance, societal scandals, friendship, family, and marriage. (publisher’s summary)
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.” They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.
A haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and mercy, The True Story of Hansel and Gretel powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story. (publisher’s summary)
The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst
From Alan Furst, whom The New York Times calls “America’s preeminent spy novelist,” comes an epic story of romantic love, love of country, and love of freedom — the story of a secret war fought in elegant hotel bars and first-class railway cars, in the mountains of Spain and the backstreets of Berlin. It is an inspiring, thrilling saga of everyday people forced by their hearts’ passion to fight in the war against tyranny.
By 1938, hundreds of Italian intellectuals, lawyers and journalists, university professors and scientists, had escaped Mussolini’s fascist government and taken refuge in Paris. There, amid the struggles of émigré life, they founded an Italian resistance, with an underground press that smuggled news and encouragement back to Italy. Fighting fascism with typewriters, they produced 512 clandestine newspapers. The Foreign Correspondent is their story.
Paris, a winter night in 1938: a murder/suicide at a discreet lovers’ hotel. But this is no romantic tragedy — it is the work of the OVRA, Mussolini’s fascist secret police, and is meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine émigré newspaper. Carlos Weisz, who has fled from Trieste and secured a job as a foreign correspondent with the Reuters bureua, becomes the new editor.
Weisz is, at that moment, in Spain, reporting on the last campaign of the Spanish civil war. But as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Sûreté, by agents of the OVRA, and by officers of the British Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder.
The Foreign Correspondent is the story of a handful of antifascists: the army officer known as “Colonel Ferrara,” who fights for a lost cause in Spain; Arturo Salamone, the shrewd leader of a resistance group in Paris; and Christa von Schirren, the woman who becomes the love of Weisz’s life, herself involved in a doomed resistance underground in Berlin.
The Foreign Correspondent is Alan Furst at his absolute best — taut and powerful, enigmatic and romantic, with sharp, seductive writing that takes the reader through darkness and intrigue to a spectacular denouement. (publisher’s summary)
Fall of Giants (Book One of The Century Trilogy) by Ken Follett
Fall of Giants is Follett’s magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families — American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh — as they move through the world-shaking drama of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for woman’s suffrage.
Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man’s world in the Welsh mining pits…Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House…two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…Billy’s sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London…
These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action is fast-moving, and the characters are rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.
In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves — and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we through we knew, but now will never seem the same again. (publisher’s summary)
Winter of the World (Book Two of The Century Trilogy) by Ken Follett
Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families — American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh — enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs and the beginning of the long Cold War.
Carla von Ulrich, born of German and English parents, finds her life engulfed by the Nazi tide, until daring to commit a deed of great courage and heartbreak…American brothers Woody and Chuck Dewar, each with a secret, take separate paths to momentous events, one in Washington, the other in the bloody jungles of the Pacific…English student Lloyd Williams discovers in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War that he must fight Communism just as hard as Fascism…Daisy Peshkov, a driven social climber, cares only for popularity and the fast set, until the war transforms her life, and then transforms it again, while her cousin Volodya carves out a position in Soviet intelligence that will affect not only this war but also the war to come.
These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century. From the drawing rooms of the rich to the blood and smoke of battle, their lives intertwine, propelling the reader into dramas of ever-increasing complexity. (publisher’s summary)
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
Twenty years after the publication of The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk returns with a sweeping epic of World War II, with a novel grander in scope and more profound and stirring in theme than anything he has ever written.
The Winds of War has the planet itself for a stage, and the adventures of a dozen characters for its central action. Thrown together in the vortex of war are the Henrys, an American naval family; Natalie Jastrow, an American Jewish girl living in Europe with her uncle, a famous expatriate author; and Alistair Tudsbury, a British war correspondent, and his WAAF daughter, Pamela. Around these main figures, and the people close to them, swirl scores of sharply defined minor players in a vast ever-mounting tide of human spectacle and drama.
Framed in this multi-paneled tale of voyages, battles, encounters, loves, and disasters — and in the sharply controversial commentary of a German general, giving the view from the other side — The Winds of War — encompasses the world conflict from the ominous rumblings of Hitler’s Germany in 1939 to the end of 1941 and America’s plunge into the war. Vivid portraits of famous men — Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin among them — add an extra dimension of reality.
The Winds of War produces in the reader an intimate feeling of participation, an eyewitness’s tingling consciousness of living through great and terrible days, an overpowering sense that “this is how it was.” In Herman Wouk’s already distinguished career, this novel is a crowning work. (publisher’s summary)
From Serena (thank you!):
Market Street by Anita Hughes
Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton’s, San Francisco’s most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley professor, has had an affair with a student, she flees to the comfort of her best friend Alexis’ Presidio Heights mansion, where she wonders if she should give their marriage one more chance.
Whether or not she can forgive Aidan is not the only choice Cassie has to make. Cassie’s mother is eager to have her oversee the opening of Fenton’s new food emporium, which Fenton’s hopes will become San Francisco’s hottest gourmet shopping destination. Cassie’s true passion has always been food, not fashion, and she suspects her mother might be trying to lure her into the Fenton’s fold by entrusting her with such an exciting opportunity. And then there is James, the architect designing the emporium, who is quietly falling in love with her… (publisher’s summary)
In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert S. McNamara
Twenty years after the end of the Vietnam War, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara answers the lingering questions that surround this disastrous episode in American history, in a ground-breaking book that is the definitive insider’s account of American policy making in Vietnam.
“We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation,” McNamara writes. “We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to the future generations to explain why.”
With unprecedented candor and drawing on a wealth of newly declassified documents, McNamara reveals the fatal misassumptions behind our involvement in Vietnam. Keenly observed and dramatically written, In Retrospect possesses the urgency and poignancy that mark the very best histories — and the unsparing candor that is the trademark of the greatest personal memoirs. (publisher’s summary)
Regulated for Murder: A Michael Stoddard American Revolution Thriller by Suzanne Adair
For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.
Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier’s freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents — and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer. (publisher’s summary)
What books did you add to your shelves recently?
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