Thomas Jefferson watched as his mother coerced his father to brutally beat one of their slaves. He ran away, changed for life. Thomas was an introvertThomas Jefferson watched as his mother coerced his father to brutally beat one of their slaves. He ran away, changed for life. Thomas was an introvert who spent his time escaping by reading the classics. He was a learned man. He married Martha, and loved his wife. They continued to have slaves, and they were well treated. Thomas treated everyone with respect as his own mother was insane and lashed out, even beating her own daughter with a rake and left for dead. Sally Hemmings was a young slave born to one of Thomas and Martha's older slaves. Sally was much older when she found out that her real father was Martha's father, and that her siblings shared the same father.
Sally could have passed for white. She was beautiful. As she grew older, she took charge of Thomas' youngest daughter. By that time, Martha had died. Thomas was ambassador to France. Thomas sent for his youngest daughter and Sally accompanied her across the ocean. It is in France that Thomas fell in love with Sally. Sally, through her dreams told in the story, has misgivings about Thomas. She loves him, yet hates him. For at eighteen, she realizes that in France, slaves have rights, but in America, they do not. How could Thomas have written in the Declaration of Independence write that "All men are created equal" when he hypocritically still owned slaves. Sally abhorred Thomas, yet loved him. Their sexual attraction was unmistakable. Thomas saw a lot of Martha in Sally, obviously. Sally had his children. Thomas became the Secretary of State to George Washington. Their relationship had to remain a secret. Sally made Thomas promise her children would be free......more
We have all heard and read about the horror of the Holocaust. With the lives and voices of three women, Martha Hall Kelly portrays an in-depth look atWe have all heard and read about the horror of the Holocaust. With the lives and voices of three women, Martha Hall Kelly portrays an in-depth look at Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp for women only. Much of this story is true.
Caroline was a debutante from New York who volunteered to send clothes and items to French orphanages during WWII. Her mother sewed the clothes out of the clothes they already had in their closets. She was responsible for highlighting the physical and emotional struggles the "Rabbits" had years after WWII had ended. The "Rabbits" were the women who were experiments, and operated on at the Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Kasia and her sister were Polish, and were arrested and sent to Ravensbruck for their underground activities in their home town. Kasia's leg was operated on in Ravensbruck. Muscle and bone were taken out of her leg and foreign objects were put into her leg to cause infection, then sulfa was added to the mix. Kasia's sister was sterilized. Kasia's mother drew beautiful portraits of the Nazi doctors and staff of Ravensbruck and helped one of the main German doctors, Herta Oberheuser. Herta was a woman surgeon with no chance of being recognized in her home town in Germany. In this Ravensbruck, however, she was able to make a name for herself as a top surgeon.
All of these women's lives were intertwined. Their stories are told, in rotation. It is heartbreaking, and hopeful. A must read!
James and Sadie were married in Connecticut. They lived in the family house. They moved to a humid swampland in Ohio. The mud there was overwhelming.James and Sadie were married in Connecticut. They lived in the family house. They moved to a humid swampland in Ohio. The mud there was overwhelming. Five out of their ten children died from swamp fever. The five surviving children took on the worst of both parents' behaviors.
When the family first arrived in the swampland, James cleared a large area to grow apple trees. The apple trees he loved best were Golden Pippens, crunchy sweet apples that had a taste of pineapple. He planted those seeds along with the apple saplings John Chapman sold to new settlers. James learned to "graft" trees in order to create better tasting Golden Pippens. For as many Golden Pippen trees, there were trees planted that grew "spitter" apples, the best kind for making blackjack. John Chapman introduced Sadie to Blackjack in order to quell swamp fever. Sadie became a drunk. She was constantly upset that Jack loved his Golden Pippen trees more than her. A war of words began early on between James and Sadie. Sadie's words were so nasty that James began to beat her.
Two children felt for their father - Robert and Martha. Robert followed his father with an intensity to learn all he could about the trees growing in the orchard, learning the art of grafting two trees. Martha was a shy child, afraid of her mother's hurtful words and outbursts.
Life described in the swampland suddenly stops when the reader of a new chapter finds that Robert has moved away from home, farther and farther west, holding one job after another, year after year, until he began collecting tree seeds and saplings for a Mr. William Lobb. Like his father, he was becoming a tree agent. Since he left home, Robert enjoyed being a loner, never opening up to anyone about his past life...As a reader, I kept wondering what led Robert to leave his family so abruptly. This was a very interesting read!
This is historical fiction. In the court of France, Queen Catherine de Medicis rules her sons and daughters with an iron fist. The reader learns quickThis is historical fiction. In the court of France, Queen Catherine de Medicis rules her sons and daughters with an iron fist. The reader learns quickly that the Queen molds and directs her children to make the alliances that are in the best interest for France, not in the best interest of her children's hearts. Princess Margot is brought to court as a loving daughter. She is bright and can't wait to have a loving relationship with her mother and brothers. Margot learns early that the court of France is not to be trusted. There are lies and spies. Margot is hurt deeply by her mother, learning that she is the "director" of the court, not a mother caring about her children's inner lives. While Margot is being taught the correct behavior to honor France, those in the court are far from correct and chaste in their behavior. Margot is horrified to learn that her brother, who she loves and adores, loves her in a way a brother should not love a sister. Her brother's hurt turns the rest of her family against Margot. Margot is "handed" to several suitors, heads of state, one being "damaged in the head," wanting to be with her sister, already married to the head of a country. Margot tries to serve her mother by agreeing to any marriage that will benefit the court of France, but she is deeply in love with the Duc de Guise, and he with her. Or is he? Is he trying to connect better to her brothers and the court of France? Who are the enemies? Who are the friends of the French court? Who does Margot marry in order to seal a truce between two warring religions, the Huguenots and the Catholics? Does the war end of become a bloody massacre? Who will align with who? Who will win? Will the court of France be taken down? Read and find out the answers. Intrigue upon intrigue......more
Noel, aged 10, was living with his godmother, Mattie in a large old house. He had no other family. Mattie had a quick mind. Noel, also having a quickNoel, aged 10, was living with his godmother, Mattie in a large old house. He had no other family. Mattie had a quick mind. Noel, also having a quick mind, made Mattie and Noel a perfect pair to live together. Unfortunately, Mattie developed Alzheimers, and Noel became her caretaker until she snuck out one night and died. The war was almost upon them. Mattie's relatives were not keen about taking care of Noel. Noel found himself with other evacuees on the train. He started to live with Vee, a mother of a young man who was heavy and had a heart murmur, preventing him from being part of the enlisted soldiery. (To make money, this young man started to "fill in" for enlisting soldiers, ensuring that they would not be enlisted in the war). Vee also had a mother who was living with her. She could not speak, but sat and wrote letter after letter to Winston Churchill and other high level people in charge of England about various injustices happening each day. Ver and Noel started to build a relationship, going from neighborhood to neighborhood, collecting money for various charities of which they were not a part of. Noel had the brain for intrigue, and Vee had no money. Thieves existed everywhere in England during the war. Many men who blew the whistle for people to head towards the underground during air raids would often steal and loot from innocent people when they were not home. Although Noel and Vee were also stealing, I was rooting for them to make better lives for themselves than what they had. You, the reader, need to find out if the miscreants get theirs, and if Noel finds a home and love. I was engaged in this story, right up until the end!...more
I learned a lot about Mexico under the dictator Diaz in the 1800's as I engaged in this beautiful story. Teresita is the main character. She was bornI learned a lot about Mexico under the dictator Diaz in the 1800's as I engaged in this beautiful story. Teresita is the main character. She was born to an Indian woman worker who worked on the ranch in poverty, and a white ranch owner named Tomas. When Teresita's mother ran away, Teresita was "given" to her mother's sister who abused her. Huila, a healer who helped people on Tomas' ranch, took Teresita as her own, to teach her the powers of healing. When Huila asked Teresita what she wanted to do in life, Teresita responded, "Ease suffering." Although Teresita grew up in Tomas' ranch as his child, Teresita did not forget her Indian roots. Tomas was uncomfortable when he came across the "scalp hunters" of the Yaqui Indians. He was not in favor of land thievery and the genocide of natives, yet Tomas occupied the lands where the natives were displaced or killed. (When Tomas moved to this land, there had been a Yacqui rebellion and the white settlement had been burned to the ground). Tomas had to come to terms with a daughter who became a powerful healer, healing pilgrims on the front porch of his home. Teresita became known as a saint. Teresita's story is riveting, as well as the changing history of Mexico. ...more
This was a fast and interesting read about a young Jewish girl who lived in the North End in the early 1900's with her parents and two girl siblings.This was a fast and interesting read about a young Jewish girl who lived in the North End in the early 1900's with her parents and two girl siblings. The book starts out with Addie Baum's granddaughter asking her what it was like to be the woman she was...And so Addie's story begins. Her mother was an unrelenting, complaining mother, always berating Addie. Addie always had dreams. Although her mother continuously tried to squash her dreams throughout her life, Addie rebelled when she was just a young adult and joined a library group for girls where she met her best friends who shared their life experiences with her, and hers with them...
This is a coming of age story with Addie as the main character...Addie is a liberal girl, a liberal woman, and a liberal grandmother. Her life's experiences, the good and the bad, shaped her as the woman she became....more
This is not a book you will forget. Harold Fry had retired from the brewery. The book begins with his wife giving him orders early in the morning at bThis is not a book you will forget. Harold Fry had retired from the brewery. The book begins with his wife giving him orders early in the morning at breakfast. Harold appears meek and sedentary. He receives a letter from one of his former colleagues from the brewery saying that she is in hospice, dying of cancer and just wants to say goodbye. Harold quickly writes a letter to her and leaves the house to mail it.
Harold could have posted the letter close to home, but he kept walking to the next post, then the next, then the next...Harold decides that he is going to walk across England to Berwick-upon-Tweed to say goodbye to Queenie Hennessy. He opens the envelope and rewrites that he is coming and she should wait for him. Thus Harold begins his walking journey.
"As time passed and he found his rhythm, he began to feel more certain. England opened beneath his feet, and the feeling of freedom, of pushing into the unknown, was so exhilarating he had to smile. He was in a world by himself and nothing could get in the way or ask him to mow the lawn."
Harold had only driven from one city to another. He began to see the monotony of his life as he walked, stopped, and saw the beauty of the landscape. "There were so many shades of green Harold was humbled. Some were almost a velvety black, others so light they verged on yellow...How was it he had never noticed all this before? Pale flowers, the name of which he didn't know, pooled the foot of the hedgerows, along with primroses and violets."
Rachel Joyce's writing is exquisite. Harold has hours, days, and weeks to reflect upon his life. He had an abusive father whose wartime experiences left his hands trembling and his mouth mean. His mom walked out on the family.
Most of the time, Harold focused on his early married life with his wife, Maureen. He thought about how they laughed, how she wore her hair, what her dress looked like... His relationship with his wife grew farther and farther apart when their son had rejected both of them. Before that rejection, Maureen and his son, David, bonded in their disrespect of Harold.
Harold's journey was his "new beginning." He took the time to accept the strangeness of others that he met along the way. Strangers took care of him when Harold appeared he could walk no longer... Harold was accepted and loved on this journey. Meanwhile, as the journey continued, Harold's story of his own life unraveled...
Maureen, being left alone, had her own journey to reflect upon when Harold walked out the door that morning, and did not come back...
This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. We all have a past, and as we get older, we take the time to reflect upon the good and the bad...Life for all of us is a journey. ...more