I thought this book was beautiful. I picked it up at the bookstore one day this past summer, not really sure what it was about, but intrigued becauseI thought this book was beautiful. I picked it up at the bookstore one day this past summer, not really sure what it was about, but intrigued because it dealt with two of my favorite things - (1) France and (2) WWII history. I don't think I expected it to be as sad as it was (and be forewarned: sad it most very much is.) See, I don't really cry when I read books (movies, yes, books, not so much), and this one made me cry. The only other books I've cried while reading were at the end of Harry Potter 6 and 7... But I cried because the story is so captivating, you can't help but get sucked in. There are two main story lines that alternate and intertwine - a young Jewish girl named Sarah who locks her brother in a cabinet during the Paris roundup, promising to come back for him one day; and an American woman some 60 years later living in the same apartment that was once occupied by Sarah's family. Although both stories are quite good, it is the story of Sarah that truly captivates the reader and sucks you in to the novel. Gripping, heart-wrenching, and beautifully written, this book is a must-read. Not to mention I learned for the first time about the horrible events surrounding the Velodrome d'Hiver roundups in July 1942, something not to be ignored in history. (Google it...) This book is definitely a new favorite of mine....more
Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by the story of the Romanovs, and especially the legends surrounding theWhat a fascinating read!
Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by the story of the Romanovs, and especially the legends surrounding the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, Anastasia. Who wasn't captivated at the idea that somehow one of the Romanovs escaped that tragic night and wound up in Germany, or England, or America, or somewhere safe? Who doesn't want to believe in the fairy tale ending?
Although published in 1995, before they discovered the bodies of Alexei and Maria (thus concluding that all children of the Tsar were killed July 17, 1918), and before they buried the Romanov remains at St. Petersburg's St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Massie's dedication to the mystery of this case, his thorough research and interviews with everyone involved from the discovery of the Romanov grave to the histology of the Romanov family to the Romanov emigres who survive today to the mystery surrounding the true identity of Anna Anderson is immaculate. Massie has a way of telling history as a captivating story. I never felt like I was reading a typical historical account, I felt like I was there, in the story of the Romanovs, all the way from the Ipatiev House and the night of the execution to the DNA testing of Anna Anderson.
I thought this book was not only true and accurate, but it is a work that pays great homage to the last Tsar of Imperial Russia and his family. May they rest in peace now that the world knows their story.
I feel like it has been months since I picked up a book, started reading it, and been unable to put it down. This was oI thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I feel like it has been months since I picked up a book, started reading it, and been unable to put it down. This was one of those books.
Being the history nerd that I am, and loving those personal stories of people throughout history, spiced up with drama, I love historical fiction. It fits me. Give me a book set in Europe circa the dates between 1500 and 1950, and I am done, I'm there, I'm engrossed. This book was just what I needed to liven up my recent book list.
I didn't really think much about Madame Tussaud prior to seeing this novel. All I knew of her was, "oh, that chick who started that wax museum? She was real?" Yea, I had no idea who she was. But when I read the synopsis for this book - the story of how Madame Tussaud came to be Madame Tussaud during the French Revolution, I was intrigued. I love France. Just look at my book selection and you can probably gauge that info pretty fast. And I took an entire class in college called "History of the French Revolution," so I like to think I know a thing or two about the French Revolution. This book was a sweet reminder of my love of French history. I don't know which excited me more while reading - the story itself, or the fact that I knew what was going on. I knew who Robespierre, the Duc d'Orleans, Danton, and Marie Antoinette were. I knew about the National Assembly and the Reign of Terror. Heck, I even appreciated the very brief mention of the Declaration of the Rights of Women in this book. Unlike many historical fiction authors, who just want to write about a time period without actually getting the facts straight, Moran was pretty right on in incorporating history with fiction. Sure, it wasn't pure historical fact (if you want that, go read a textbook), but it was the closest I'd read in a historical novel. I was proud. Well done, Moran, well done.
This book was pure entertainment, intrigue, and enjoyment. Not only do I plan on reading Moran's other books shortly, but this rekindled the romance I have with French history so much I am now reading a biography of Marie Antoinette. Ohh books....more
I found this book a little hard to get into in the beginning, but it quickly picks up pace and I ended up reading 2/3 of the book in one night, I coulI found this book a little hard to get into in the beginning, but it quickly picks up pace and I ended up reading 2/3 of the book in one night, I couldn't put it down. If you are at all interested in family dynamics, European history, Russian history, WWII, or just a good read on a cold winter's night, this book is for you.
It's the story of two sisters, Meredith and Nina, who made a promise to their dying father to get to know their cold, distant mother, a Russian immigrant who hardly ever so much as looks in the direction of her two grown daughters. The story then begins of the two sisters' great attempts to get their mother to tell a fairy tale story from their childhood, a fairy tale story that proves to have more to it than just princes' and black carriages and secret love.
While one can begin to predict the outcome of the story, and who represents whom in the fairy tale, ultimately it's a great story, and the very end leaves a little bit of a surprising twist.
It's a heart-breaking, beautiful story of lost love, family history, and the ultimate truth that family bonds are something to be cherished and built upon. Great read!...more
How do I begin to explain what this book has made me think and feel?
What causes an entire society to rally behind one person, even if that one personHow do I begin to explain what this book has made me think and feel?
What causes an entire society to rally behind one person, even if that one person is evil incarnate? What drives people to such desperation that they will turn a blind eye to the evils that surround them because they have the slightest hope that their own lives will improve? How does an entire country fall behind someone so ardently, that they find themselves unable to do anything but support the cause of the "fatherland" in times of devastation and war? And how does this society cope with the atrocities that are revealed in the aftermath of the worst scar on mankind history has ever known?
Irmgard Hunt has asked herself those questions for decades. Born in 1934 a stone's throw away from Hitler's headquarters and Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany, Hunt's childhood was shaped by the Third Reich and the war that came out of it. In her memoir, she discusses the history that led to her family's desperation for a better future, the rallying behind and then growing doubts of a man who promised success and dominance in a world that had been so harsh in the past, and her own struggles to understand and come to terms with what was unfolding around her.
Hunt did not write this book for others to feel pity or remorse for the German people in World War II, but rather she wrote this book so that others would know and understand her story. Her hope is that the world not forget what happened to Germany in the years leading up to and during World War II, and that those who read her story take a role in ensuring that such atrocities do not occur again. She admits that every German who survived World War II had to come to terms with what had happened, and that the majority of the German people, herself included, shared in the shame and guilt over what had happened. It is because she has come to terms with her past that she is now able to share her story with the world.
Hunt's story is not necessarily remarkable, her stories are mostly little anecdotes of a life shaped by the world around her. There are no stories of the Holocaust, of Jews, of the ins and outs of Hitler's regime. Hunt herself had only one brief encounter with Hitler. But her story is still an important one. This memoir shows us an ordinary life during extraordinary times. It gives us a view of "what life was like on the other side," the German side. And like I've said, while it is not necessarily remarkable, it still makes you stop and think.
We are all human. We all feel the same emotions, have the same joys and struggles, and we all still feel the same pain, anguish, and horror of human atrocities such as war. This memoir was an eye-opening reminder that war affects us all, no matter which side we fight for, and it is a poignant reminder to not let history repeat itself, no matter the cost.
If you love history, and love the human side to history, read this book. You won't regret it....more
I'm not sure why this book captured my attention as much as it did. I expected it to be an easy, lazy, fun romance book read, and that it was. But forI'm not sure why this book captured my attention as much as it did. I expected it to be an easy, lazy, fun romance book read, and that it was. But for some reason it hooked me in a way I haven't been hooked on a book in a while. I just had to keep reading it. I had to force myself to put it down when I knew I needed to go do something else.
Was this book amazing? Not really. Was it realistic? Good God, no. But it still did the job of a good, light, easy romance read.
I think reading Jude Deveraux's afterward about why she wrote the book and what she was trying to accomplish with it made me appreciate it a little bit more. That she wrote it with purpose, gave the characters depth and realistic personalities (besides the...ya know...sixteenth century, time-traveling hunk...) makes me respect her and her writing more. Although I was frustrated with Dougless, the main character, in the beginning, I grew to love her, because she finally came into her own, even if it did take a 16th century Earl to do so.
The only thing that bothered me with this was the "knight in shining armor" aspect. The fact that Dougless needed Nicholas to realize she was an independent woman. I felt that kind of took away from her as a strong woman. But I see how without it there would be no story. And I do respect the idea that sometimes, we don't need other people to save us, but simply to see the parts of us we can't see ourselves. That helped me to let go of my "I am woman, hear me roar" moment and enjoy the book for what it is - a good, old fashioned, romance novel....more
I appreciated this biographical depiction of Josephine Bonaparte. It was an interesting and eye-opening read. Very detailed accounts, and I appreciateI appreciated this biographical depiction of Josephine Bonaparte. It was an interesting and eye-opening read. Very detailed accounts, and I appreciate reading about Josephine's entire life, not just the years she was married to Napoleon. Very interesting interpretation of Bonaparte himself in the biography. Very easy and entertaining biography of a fascinating woman in history....more
I do not like to write a review immediately after I finish a book. I like to give myself some time to process what I read and decide how I really feltI do not like to write a review immediately after I finish a book. I like to give myself some time to process what I read and decide how I really felt about it, and for this I am glad. Because while I was reading Kate Morton's newest novel, I found myself getting frustrated at her descriptive text, wanting only to know the story, more about the people. But with that I realized I devoured this novel, because I wanted to know the secrets behind Milderhurst Castle and it's occupants, the Sisters Blythe. I wanted to know more about these characters and their lives, what happened to them. And thus, I very much enjoyed this novel.
I still believe Kate Morton is still developing as a writer, but she's developing into one of the best writers I've read in a long time. Her stories are so intricate and beautiful, and the plots all come together so perfectly and splendidly, I can't help but be excited for her and for whatever she has in store for her readers next. The Distant Hours is no exception. Each detail is so beautifully crafted, and the story comes together in such a heartbreaking way, I just love it.
Highly recommended for all Kate Morton fans, or for anyone who enjoyed The Forgotten Garden and/or The House at Riverton. A devouring must-read for 2011....more
What made this book interesting was the life of Marie Antoinette itself rather than anything the author did. I appreciated her delicate research intoWhat made this book interesting was the life of Marie Antoinette itself rather than anything the author did. I appreciated her delicate research into the life of Marie Antoinette, but oh my word could this book drag. Took me ages to finish. Was it worth it? Considering what a huge history/French Revolution/Marie Antoinette/France in general nerd I am, then yes. But if you're not one of those things, best to find some quick historical fiction book based on her life instead....more
My main thoughts while reading this book. I love World War II books. I love historical fiction. I love mystery. SoHo-hum, blah blah blah, what's next?
My main thoughts while reading this book. I love World War II books. I love historical fiction. I love mystery. So I figured I would love this book. After reading it, however, I have found that it's just another excuse to write a book that takes place in war-torn Europe during the 1940s, with some scenes in America plugged in.
This book has potential to be great. Frankie Bard, a female American journalist, reporting on the streets of London during the Blitz is given the opportunity to travel through war-torn France interviewing Jewish refugees. Meanwhile, Emma sits at home waiting for letters from her husband, Will, a doctor, after he decides to go to London to help and to help free himself of his guilt after an accident. Iris, the postmaster in this small Cape Cod town where Emma and Will live does her job meticulously. These three stories become intertwined, and what should be a interesting, engaging, emotional, and fascinating read turns out to be a boring jump from one story to another and then a slapping it all together at the end for the not-so-big finish.
Blake could have done so much more with this story. The heart-wrenching moments were there, but she just barely missed the mark. The opportunities for character development in a story like this are limitless, but once again, I felt no deep connection to anyone in this story, except perhaps the Jewish refugees. But, even then, they ended up being a background story and it almost seemed like the token Jew reference for a WWII novel. Gag me.
Blake tried to make this deep. She tried to make it some huge revelation about life, death, loss, revelation, and how we are all interconnected. Instead, the parts that were supposed to be deep came off as sappy and over-the-top, and the parts that should have been revelations were just...meh.
Bottom line - I finished it because I can't stand to not finish a book. I came away disappointed...All in all, it was just okay....more