WWII is a favourite time period of mine that I always try to read about as often as possible. Most of the books I know are set in Europe (Italy, FrancWWII is a favourite time period of mine that I always try to read about as often as possible. Most of the books I know are set in Europe (Italy, France and the UK). Except for Pearl Harbour, I knew very little about what was happening in the US. I remember reading about work camps for Japanese families in a few articles and this was it. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (I just love this title) gave me the opportunity to learn more about the subject.
This is a story of love, family, honor and forgiveness. I laughed and cryed and sometimes both at the same time. No need to say that I was completely hooked from the first to the last page. There's no unidimensional characters in Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. I immediately had the feeling that I knew everyone, like I was living in that small community for years.
When Pearl Harbour is attacked and the public opinion about the Japanese community changes, I cannot help but to suffer along with the Moritomo's. This family was living for years in the US, their children were born there and suddenly they became the enemy. Slowly, we see how the war changes all the characters and it's a real pleasure to see that everyone has it's qualities and flaws like real human beings.
One of my favourite parts (a very hard choice since I loved all the story) was Maddie's vision of the work camp. An American amid all the Japanese immigrants and their offspring entrapped in awful dailylife conditions. The tensions become even stronger inside the camp between the community. I couldn't help but admire Maddie's determination to show everyone that she was Lane's wife and part of his family.
Even if I couldn't help but to fall for Maddie and Lane, T.J. and Jo kind of steal the show. They are both stubborn and tough, but their kindness and protective feelings towards their families and friends are quite impressive. In the end, I was craving for a little bit more about these two, even if this didn't change my mind how I felt about this book.
Highly recommended to all history buffs who enjoy epic stories and beautiful prose. Just an advice, don't start reading it just before you go to bed.
Grade: 4.5/5 stars (very close of a perfect 5 stars and one of my best reads this year) ...more
19th century, Yorkshire. Annabelle (Belle) Stirling was raised learning all about the wonderful world of drapers. After the lost of both her parents,19th century, Yorkshire. Annabelle (Belle) Stirling was raised learning all about the wonderful world of drapers. After the lost of both her parents, Belle starts running the family draper shop all by herself, even if the owner is her brother, Wesley. The latter is a charming young man who isn't interested at all in the shop and lets his sister do whatever she thinks is best for the business.
My favourite moments in the first part of the story were the scenes during Belle's younger years learning all there is to know about drapers with her father, Fafa. They are full of tenderness and we can see what a wonderful and accomplished woman Belle is becoming.
After an incident at her shop, Belle leaves for London where she finally decides to stay and built a new life. Sometimes, I was a little surprised how quickly she landed on her feet. Maybe I was expecting a little more resistance from her peers because not only she was a woman and unmarried but mostly she was unknown in town without any connections. But, in the other hand, the girl knew her business quite well.
The only aspect of this story that pleased me the least was Belle's attitude in presence of her brother. I do understand that he was her only kin, but after so many problems and so many signs that something was really off, Belle remained, for a very long time, completely blind over her brother's doings. It was even more frustrating knowing that otherwise Belle was an intelligent, hard-working woman who valued her independence above all.
I have to say that Ms Trent has a real gift to create interesting heroes. Putnam Boyce stole every scene he was in. His calm, self-confidence and passion make it impossible not to fall head over heels for him. Each time Belle needed his help, he was there for her. The mutual admiration for their respective work was something that I could feel and really appreciate. Of course, Putnam is not without faults, and that makes him even more interesting.
The historical background was extremely captivating. I knew little about the Luddites and while I was reading By The King's Design, I excitedly searched all kind of informations about the movement. The attacks were described vividly, I could imagine without any difficulties the rage and the fear felt during the destruction of the new machines.
In the other hand, the Prince Regent is one of those royals that I never really cared for and therefore, except for his excesses, lovers and marriage with Caroline of Brunswick, my knowledge is quite limited. His reaction to Belle was surprising, but probably not unexpected given his changeable opinions and love for lovely women.
By The King's Design was a wonderful way to begin the new year !