Ever since I read Lilac Girls, I’ve been on a bit of a World War II kick. Although, to be sure, my favorite literary genre is historical fiction, and has been since the days when I discovered Ann Rinaldi in my teens (The Fifth of March, A Break with Charity, Time Enough for Drums, Wolf by the Ears, The Last Silk Dress, Mine Eyes Have Seen, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons, The Second Bend in the River, and In My Father’s House are the ones I remember reading as I look at a list of her many, many works.)
Anyway, it should be no surprise that I’m on a history kick again. Thank goodness for cheap used books on Amazon! So how did I do this month?
The month began, as it always does, with my selection(s) from the Book of the Month club. Sometimes I only get one book, other times I can’t help myself and get more than one. This month I got three books.
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (2017). The true story a man named Christopher Knight who lived in the woods of Maine from 1986 until 2013. I don’t know why I never heard about this when it happened. I read this one in a single day. Quick read and interesting.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (2017). There is so much hype surrounding this one that I just had to get it. Interesting concept- two young lovers escaping a war-torn nation through secret doors. I’m not entirely sure what that even means, but the book has been well-received and it sounds quite intriguing…
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016). I had been eyeing this one at BOTM since I joined in November and for whatever reason, this felt like the right time to get it. It’s the story of a Russian Count who, in 1922, is forced to become a permanent resident of the Metropol Hotel’s attic for writing a poem viewed as revolutionary by the Bolsheviks. I’m currently reading it, only 48 pages in, but am enjoying it. The writing is witty and exquisite.
The rest of my haul was obtained through Amazon and various sellers there.
The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe (2016). A young German Jewish girl named Lieselotte (Lisa) is sent to London on the Kindertransport. When the Blitz blows her new home apart, she wakes up with no memory of who she is, so she is given a new name and sent to a children’s home.
Is It All In Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan (2017). I also read this book in one sitting, staying up all night to finish it. I was immediately intrigued by the author’s stories of her patients with psychosomatic disorders. She delivers their stories with truth and compassion, a necessary quality when working with conditions where emotional stress causes physical symptoms.
Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (2015). I was dying to read this one, set in the early 1970s and alternating with the late 1930s/early 1940s. Upon her mother’s death (a woman also named Lieselotte), a young woman named Hannah learns of her ties to Germany and the role her family played in the Holocaust. I couldn’t put it down, but parts of it seemed really contrived.
Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (2014). As I was reading the previously mentioned book, I looked into other titles by the author and was intrigued by this one. Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, a woman tries to protect her young daughter, deaf since birth, from the regime (and her Nazi Party-member husband) that deems her unworthy of life, a blight on an Aryan bloodline.
Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey (2014). Rebecca, a Jewish national, and Christopher, a German national living in Great Britain territory, fall in love. But when Rebecca is taken to Europe and Christopher is deported back to Germany, he will do whatever he can to find her…even if it means taking a position at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (2017). This one I ordered from the UK because I wanted the paperback version, which doesn’t seem to be available in the US. The book, based on the author’s own family history, is about the Jewish Kurc family and their struggle to survive the war as Jewish Poles, both as prisoners and refugees.
Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties by Laurie Edwards (2008.) This one I got because it’s the April selection for the book club for the Dysautonomia Support Network. I’m 2/3 of the way through it. It started off ok, but now it’s kind of spiraling downward. We’ll see how it turns out.
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom (1974). After having read The Hiding Place last month, I have fallen in love with Corrie ten Boom. What a courageous woman for the Lord she was! This book chronicles her life journey as a world-traveling evangelist following the events of The Hiding Place.
A Prisoner and Yet… by Corrie ten Boom (1954). Few people (myself included) know that Corrie ten Boom wrote a book almost twenty years before she wrote The Hiding Place. This book describes in greater detail her and her sister Betsie’s time in Scheveningen prison and the Vught and Ravensbruck concentration camps.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (2007). A journalist in 2002 investigates the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv’. During the night of arrests of French Jewish families in 1942, known as the Vel’ d’Hiv’, young Sarah locks her little brother in a cupboard and promises to return for him when they are released. But once rounded up, the families are sent to Auschwitz…
Ok, I didn’t think I got that many books in March! But I’ve already read three of them and am in the middle of two. Let’s see if I can calm April down a bit.
Has anyone ever read any of these books? What did you think?