I love Judy Blundell. She never goes in for the cheap way out. She does her research, and really creates a place for readers back in time. And it's a...moreI love Judy Blundell. She never goes in for the cheap way out. She does her research, and really creates a place for readers back in time. And it's a time I love to imagine -- post-war America. What's more, her mysteries are always so nicely woven. Of course sometimes you can guess what's coming (at a few points during this one, I DID sort of get impatient with the main character -- could you really not guess what so and so meant by something? Are you that trusting of people's intentions? Because you don't act like you are). I really loved this one
I had this one on audio, and have to say how much justice Emma Galvin did this book -- really engaging.(less)
I'm gonna go ahead and put it out there: five stars. I'm becoming more discerning about passing those stars out. When I started, I thought that things...moreI'm gonna go ahead and put it out there: five stars. I'm becoming more discerning about passing those stars out. When I started, I thought that things were only going so-so. But the ideas Dogar was putting into the book started to roil for me. And it all began to serve as a jumping off point for me to think more about the people of that time. I think that's basically the idea behind a book like this, so bravo and well done, Sharon Dogar. That's what any writer hopes to do, I believe.
I guess I'll say that my greatest impressions had to do with remembering that these people were just that: real people. Another review on here said something about how she found Peter to be unlikable, that all he did was mope around for the first half of the book. I don't know. I guess I overlooked any alleged moping because he happened to be hiding in an attic with a family he barely knew and living in fear that the Nazis would take him as a prisoner of war. I mean, I know that's radical and loosey-goosey of me, but hey.
On a more serious note, another reviewer said something about how she thought this book was attempting to fill in a gap that wasn't missing from Anne's original diary. I get the concern about that, but truly, I feel like that's not what the purpose of this book was. I feel like the idea was to remember that Peter van Pels was a person. A young teenaged boy who wanted to do the things that all teenaged boys want to do: make love to a girl some day, travel, create things. He wasn't simply a Jew, or a number, or any one particular label. He was a beautifully complicated person, just as we all are. It's good to remember these icons in that way. It made me think of my own grandparents growing up in Europe during the war. It made me remember that they were young and full of longing at some point. This story breaks your heart every time you think about -- the story of Anne and Peter. What makes it worse still is remembering that there were other young lives full of possibility cut down in the same way.
Another reviewer mentioned the book I Capture the Castle, and they're so right. If you absorbed even a bit of that book, you'll definitely be reminde...moreAnother reviewer mentioned the book I Capture the Castle, and they're so right. If you absorbed even a bit of that book, you'll definitely be reminded of it as you read Sophie's story. They live in a derelict castle on a small island nation that's stuck between a lot of different worlds -- France, England, Spain, noble, poor, isolated, stately. It really is amazing how Cooper created this world -- sometimes the narration, charmingly provided by Princess Sophie, grazes upon this dense, complicated history. But it always supports, never cloys. It's really a good one, the kind you get lost in. SO happy there's more in this series (which I don't say often).(less)
This book, this trilogy. Ugh -- beautiful and sad. A friend wrote that it's intense, and yeah. It is. It's sad, and made me feel so anxious while I wa...moreThis book, this trilogy. Ugh -- beautiful and sad. A friend wrote that it's intense, and yeah. It is. It's sad, and made me feel so anxious while I was reading, but it's also really incredible. The writing's amazing, and the story is, too. It's just intense. I have to go read Pride & Prejudice now.(less)
I would have been totally cuckoo for this book when I was younger -- I really liked it this time, but yeah. I can see having been a young girl, and fi...moreI would have been totally cuckoo for this book when I was younger -- I really liked it this time, but yeah. I can see having been a young girl, and finding this book somehow and just being over the moon for the whole thing. I loved stories that were so far out of my realm -- a Swiss boarding school in the late 40s?! but still connected somehow. I love the way the main character, Flip, sometimes can only relate to the beauty of her surroundings. She's a flawed, interesting person who grows up in a situation in which she originally might have completely sunk. (less)
I thought this was really excellent, and I might reasonably credit this book as the one that got me to appreciate the joy of audio books. The story pu...moreI thought this was really excellent, and I might reasonably credit this book as the one that got me to appreciate the joy of audio books. The story pulls you in so quickly, and makes you feel so strongly for the characters and their disappointments, but also their hope, when it does show up. Martin Conway is a 13 year old kid on a scholarship at an expensive Catholic school that he hates. His mother's sense of honor won't let him leave the school, and he's pretty depressed. He's also victimized by one of the boys who is very decidedly NOT a scholarship student, and is, in fact, the descendent of one of the school's most honorable alums. Honorable is a matter of opinion, and hidden facts. Through a radio left to him by his newly deceased Nana, Martin is about to see the truth. The radio, a lovely old art deco piece that his grandfather owned while working at the American embassy in London during the Blitz in 1940, allows Martin to time travel, more or less, back to that time, to help clear up the facts and help more than a few people find peace. Not that he knows it at the time...
This is a great book, and a great way to think about history. The winners write the books, as Martin learns, but there are some facts that will not keep quiet. I loved the relationships in this book, and the way Martin grows from a sorrowful, sleeping sort of person into a person who is wide awake and full of feelings. A really good, gripping story.(less)
This book skews a little younger in the YA category. It's for young teens, I guess, and older kids, but whomever winds up choosing it, I think they'd...moreThis book skews a little younger in the YA category. It's for young teens, I guess, and older kids, but whomever winds up choosing it, I think they'd love it. Francine is quiet because it keeps her out of trouble -- she's been bullied into quietness by nuns, her parents, and her big sister. It's 1950, and McCarthy is making his lists, and people are thinking about bomb shelters and nuclear war -- Francine's new friend Sophie is vocal about everything, and it gets her called a communist. The two girls learn a lot from each other, and that makes each of them think about who they are and want to be. This sounds lame, but it's not. This is a great example of how a good friend changes us, all set in a time and place that we shouldn't let ourselves forget. (less)
Wow -- this is a really well done, really inventive story. It's the late seventies, and Eva Lott and her father head to Poland to help a group of stud...moreWow -- this is a really well done, really inventive story. It's the late seventies, and Eva Lott and her father head to Poland to help a group of students and a subversive Catholic priest set up an underground publishing group. They learn how dangerous life is for the average Pole, and they learn what it means to be without the most basic freedoms. But what I think the book's real strength lies in Mackall's ability to create interesting situations, and feelings -- the relationships don't feel like cliches, and the scenes are really beautiful. Just wait until you get to the plum harvest.
A lovely story about love and loss of all kinds. Loved it!(less)