I am most likely the last person on the planet to read this memorable book. When it came out, for some reason, I was steadfastly not interested. PerhaI am most likely the last person on the planet to read this memorable book. When it came out, for some reason, I was steadfastly not interested. Perhaps it was becuase I was ignorant about the importance of the history of the Belgian Congo and did not think that I would be interested. I may also have been a put off but the style---the story is told through different 'voices'.
At any rate, I should have read it sooner because it is a brilliant, moving read that opened my eyes and me thrirst for to read more non-fiction about the times. Books that do that are my favorites. They affect me far beyond the point when I close the cover on the last pages of the book.
This book has been reviewed so much that I bet most everypne knows the plot by now. A missionary family arrives in the Congo to spread the good word. Tey are thoroughly unprepared for the realities of life in the Congo- knowing nothing about the language, the customs, the people, climate, food .... the father arri8ves thumping hos Boble ready to baptize children in a river that the inhabitants believe eats their children. The pastors's wife is a submissive woman and their four daughters tend to follow suit in an attempt to keep the peace. Each has a decidedly different voice and point of view.
I will admit that at first I was a bit put off by the daughters ;voices' as the vehicle for the story. It took e abit to get into the flow and to appreciate their individuality. It felt a bit dis-jointed to me for a bit (as I imagione such an experience would be in reality). Ultimately I did be3come engrossed in their tales of life in this remote village. This is raw book in the telling. It is the story of upheaval, the death of the colonial way of life that could, at times and for some people, be a bit decadent. It is the story of a country that is in the process of "becoming" with all of the blood and gore and triumph that oftens goes along with that.
Many more intellectual readers have reviewed the book and done it better...but I found this to be a very moving read that opened my eyes and has held my inteest far beyond the last page....more
In some series, the sequels lose strength. Anna Belfrage and the Graham series does the opposite....it gets better and better! I had not planned to reIn some series, the sequels lose strength. Anna Belfrage and the Graham series does the opposite....it gets better and better! I had not planned to read the entire series, but now I am hooked and have to keep going! The characters are becoming even more well portrayed, the historical basis becomes more and more riveting...excellent !...more
I have been on a bit of a 'Alice Hoffman binge' lately. I began with her earliest books and it seems to me that her writing just gets better and betteI have been on a bit of a 'Alice Hoffman binge' lately. I began with her earliest books and it seems to me that her writing just gets better and better. This book was a joy to read...one I did not want to end.
Set in 19th century Jewish community of St.Thomas, which was, at the time, in the Danish West Indies, the book follows the life of Camille Pissaro and his family. The greater part of the book is about his family prior to his birth. His mother, Rachel Pomie, is wed at an early age to a much older widower with three children. While there is no love in the marriage, there is respect and Rachel becomes a mother to many more children. When her husband dies the family business passes to a French relative of her husband - not to her as the laws of the day precluded a woman from running a business. The Frnch relatives send a nephew to the island to run the business. He is a handsome,much younger, man but the attraction is powerful and before long Rachel and Frederic fall in love. Although not related by blood, their love is not allowed since they are considered to be of the same family. Their Jewish community shuns them as outcasts and, for many years, they are not allowed to marry. Camille Pissaro is one of the children born to the couple (Rachel had 10 children)....and the story eventually shifts to his budding abilities as an artist and his struggles to live as an artist rather than a shop keeper.
There is so much history in this book. The strong, devoted Jewish community in the Danish West Indies is highlighted as are the lives of African born servants. Alice Hoffman has written a glowing, brilliant, glimpse of 19th century life in the West Indies. this is a book about familial relationships, 19th century life, and Jewish history. It is also a book about art and artists...about being true to yourself. The characters in the book shimmer with life, pulling you in to live, for just a bit, as they did.
I obviously loved this book and cannot wait for the next amazing book by Alice Hoffman....
It was powerful and riveting -a true page-turner with a plot that was masterfully written and characters tIf I could - this book would have 100 stars.
It was powerful and riveting -a true page-turner with a plot that was masterfully written and characters that inhabited my life - not just the pages of the book. I have to admit to having been oblivious about Kristin Hannah before I read this book, but I am going to search out more titles now.
I have never been a fan of books set in WW II and yet stories of the French resistance movement have always captured my mind and my heart. Would I, could I, ever have been as brave as these people were? This is the story of a French family during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis. Maman is deceased and father is a distant man who returned from a previous war damaged. He seems unable to love his daughters and one, Isabelle, struggles to cope with her feelings of being unloved. Her sister, Vianne, is married to a postman, Antoine, and they have a daughter, Sophie (joyfully born after several failed pregnancies). The war reaches in and changes France and its citizens in ways that are impossible to get your mind around.
Antoine is sent to war, leaving Vianne behind to struggle through every type of deprivation imaginable. Isabelle, once considered immature and extremely flighty, becomes the Nightengale - a heroine who managed to move down Allied airman over the Pyrenees Mountains to safety in Spain more than 100 times against nearly insurmountable odds. Vianne has Nazi soldiers billeted in her home. One kind and unprepared for the inhumanity of this war to end wars, and one who was vicious and used Vianne in ways that are not fit to tell. Their father becomes a hero - one of the sisters will discover this fact prior to his death and the other will only learn about it afterward.
I could go on, but that would mean so many spoilers that I won't. This is a book that has to be experienced. I finished it days ago and yet I am still haunted by the story and it's characters. It is a memorable book - one that I doubt I will forget. Family secrets, amazing strength of spirit, overcoming horror, deprivation and unspeakable odds, the horrors of this war and the fierce determination of the French Resistance movement are all here.
Read this book - I cannot imagine that you would regret it and it may just touch you as much as it did me....
Unlike some reviewers here on GoodReads, I am a fan of Alison Weir's books - both fiction as well as non-fiction.
That being said, I had picked up thisUnlike some reviewers here on GoodReads, I am a fan of Alison Weir's books - both fiction as well as non-fiction.
That being said, I had picked up this book twice before, read a chapter or two and then laid it aside. Third times a charm I guess, because I finally read the book through to the end. Had I not been a "baby" student of history I think that I would have enjoyed the book. The characters are all there, but they are portrayed in a a somewhat differnt light.
I won't beleaguer the fine points of the book; the title speaks volumes about the plot. I am a big fan of Elizabeth 1st, but this fictionalized portrait does not show her in a very good light. I have considered what Elizabeth's life might have been like prior to her accession to the throne.It surely must have been filled with a lot of uncertainty and fear. I can also see how she could well have become fearful of marriage! Elizabeth blazed the trail for successful female rulers. She used whatever means were available to her in order to maintain peace in her realm including using "the marriage game" as a viable tool to keep France and Spain at bay.
"The Marriage Game" highlights the concerns of Elizabeth's councillors regarding the need for an heir- either of her body or named by her. In light of the realities of the time I can readily underestand Elizabeth's hesitance to name her successor as doing so could easily spark civil unrest an attempt on her life. This was a dicey time in history when fears included not only war with politcal powerhouses like France and Spain but also the very real danger of civil unrest as Catholic's continued to simmer with anger over England's adoption of the Protestant faith. Queen Elizabeth truly was in a tenuous spot both abroad as well at home. I can understand how maintaining the status quo put her in a nearly untenable position` where doing nothing was preferable to doing something. This is how Alsion Weir chose to portray ELizabeth in this book- Elizabeth uses the 'marriage game' to avoid making a decision and holding all suitors at bay. While not a flattering portriat of this amazing queen I can believe that it was, at the very least, an element of her true strategy. In this book, however, the reader comes away with a feeling that Elizabeth was petty, preening (which I believe that she truly was) and rather flighty- far less solid a figure than I feel she truly was. The book somehow marginalizes her inellect and abilities as a ruler.
Robert Dudley comes across as long suffering, and utterly besotted - his ambition (which he surely had) is downplayed. The usual cast of characters, her councillors and peers are all there - but they are somehow less powerful in the oages of this book.
Alison Weir draws upon her extensive knowledge of the period to bring many historical facts into play in this novel and, as can alway be expected in a work of fiction, she bends truth and historical accuracy to fit the plot. The 'end notes' clearly state what was factual and what elements of the book were either pure fiction or had been 'massaged' to suit her requirements. I have to admit to being a bit curious when people expect fiction to maintain the historical accuracy of non-fiction, which is why I almost always do some research as I read. I like to make reading historical fiction a sort of 'accuracy hunt' as I read which both expands upon my own knowledge as well as lets me see how an author creates fiction around history.
While I can't rave about this book it was a fair read. If I was ignorant about history, I think that I would have enjoyed this book more as pure fiction....more