The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Author: Sarah Blake

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis): Filled with stunning parallels to today’s world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.
On the eve of the United States’s entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn’t deliver a letter.…more

My thoughts: An interesting idea for a novel and the author explains how she got the idea at the end of the book.  Also included is information on her research which I appreciated since I wanted to know more about the war time press.

I’m not sure why but I just didn’t connect with the characters on the home front. I know they were connected in that they moved the plot but there was just something about them that made them seem more like caricatures.   Maybe it has to do with the era, I’m not sure.  Sometimes it seemed that their dialogue was trying too hard to sound “of the era”.

The part I liked most was when Frankie interviewed refugees on the trains heading west to France, Spain and Portugal.  She recorded their voices telling their names and where they were going. It was haunting to read this section of the book.

I’ve read novels about the people (mostly children) who were sent out of London during the Blitz but never one that involved the people living in London not knowing each night if bombs would drop on them – or if their home would be intact when they came out of the bomb shelter. Their emotions were palpable.  I think Sarah Blake depicted the fear and desperation of the refugees as well as the people in London in a completely believable way.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Source: I bought it.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Author: Aimee Bender

Genre: Fiction

About: An intriguing tale of a young girl who finds herself able to sense the emotions of the person who cooks anything she eats as well as things about the food itself. She lives with a mother who is extremely unhappy, an emotionally detached father, and an older brother who seems to be in a downward spiral into mental illness. As the novel progresses and Rose becomes a young adult she finds that she’s not the only one in the family with special sensitivities.

My thoughts: Once I started I found it difficult to stop reading this book. Aimee Bender’s writing captivated me for the most part. I was a bit distracted by the lack of quotation marks but fell into a comfortable rhythm once I became used to that.

The awareness of others’ special sensitivities or quirks requires Rose to try to keep the peace at home as well as their secrets – no easy feat for a girl in her elementary and high school years.  As she matures she strives to connect to people but it’s almost impossible without her “gift” getting in the way. Is it possible to set her life on a new course?  Read it and find out!

Recommend? Yes,  I liked it. Rose is a character I won’t soon forget.

Source: Doubleday via Goodreads First Reads

Mailbox Monday – March 7

 

 

Hosted in March at I’m Booking It

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Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda (for review from BookSparks PR)

(Goodreads synopsis)  Kelly Mills Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly’s own passions lie wasted. She…more

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I bought:

(Goodreads synopsis) Two women running away from their marriages collide on a foggy highway, killing one of them. The survivor is left to pick up the pieces, not only of her own life, but also must go back and deal with the devastated husband and fragile, asthmatic son the other woman left behind. Together, they try to solve the mystery of where April was running to, and why. By turns riveting and unsettling, Pictures of You looks at the choices women make-the roads they choose-to be loved.

It is 1940. While war rages in Europe, President Roosevelt promises he won’t send American boys to fight. In the small Cape Cod town of Franklin, postmistress Iris James firmly believes that her job is to deliver and keep people’s secrets. Meanwhile, seemingly fearless American radio gal Frankie Bard is reporting from the Blitz in London, imploring listeners to pay attention to what is going on. The Postmistress is a tale of lost innocence.

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What was in your mailbox?

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

Title: The Last Time I Saw You

Author: Elizabeth Berg

Genre: Fiction

About: (from the book flap):  From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.

My thoughts: Imagine getting ready for your 40th and final class reunion.  That’s what the characters in Elizabeth Berg’s latest novel are doing.  Everyone is a little nervous but since it’s the last one they make the effort to attend.  We meet the popular jock, the beautiful cheerleader, the nerds, and a host of others.  It was easy to fill in with my own high school classmate version of each character.  The event finally arrives and it was interesting to watch it unfold.  Berg made me laugh out loud one minute and feel the ache of sadness the next.

Since there are several characters some of them are not as developed as I’m used to finding in Berg’s novels – probably due to the fact that the book is only 244 pages. There are comic moments as well as bittersweet but, as with most Berg novels, the end is hopeful – not wrapped up with a pretty bow – but hopeful nonetheless. I liked that.

Recommend? Yes, for Elizabeth Berg fans and anyone who has contemplated going to a high school class reunion.

Source: Library

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Title: Madame Tussaud

Author: Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis)  In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror?

My thoughts: Michelle Moran brings to life a familiar character while examining her place in history.  I learned things I’d either forgotten or never knew about the French Revolution.  Madame Tussaud and her family chronicled with wax models the royals and political figures of France in the time leading up to the revolution and beyond.  It was not unusual for Robespierre and other revolutionaries to sit at their table for dinner and discussion.  They also hosted private showings for the Royal family and other dignitaries.  The common people of Paris who could afford the fee relied on the gallery to depict recent events and to always be of the moment. Because of her dedication to her profession Madame Tussaud had very little private time.  She even tutored the sister of the King in wax modeling.  As the Revolution turned into a bloodbath Marie was called upon to make death masks of beheaded Royals and royalists.  She complied until the day she refused to make the mask of a friend.  That sealed her fate as well as her mother’s.  The story doesn’t end there but I don’t want to spoil it for other readers.

Michelle Moran’s gift for storytelling and detailed descriptions put me in the opulent halls at Versailles, the workroom at the Salon de Cire (the gallery), and in the middle of the crowd watching the executions-by-guillotine in the Place de la Révolution.

After reading Madame Tussaud I have a better understanding of this turbulent time in French history as well as an appreciation of one remarkable woman who is now much more than a trivia answer.

Recommend? Yes, if you like historical fiction I think you’ll like Madame Tussaud – it was a page-turner!

Source: Michelle Moran