Ten bestselling authors inspired by New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….
A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform…A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother…A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room…
On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through Grand Central, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.
JENNA BLUM is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004), THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, 2010), and THE LOST FAMILY (Harper Collins, 2018); the novella "The Lucky One" in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014); the audio course “The Author At Work: The Art of Writing Fiction” (Recorded Books, 2015); memoir WOODROW ON THE BENCH, about her last seven months with her beloved 15-year-old black Lab and what they taught her (Harper Collins, 2021); and WWII audiodrama THE KEY OF LOVE (Emerald Audio Network, 2023), available on any major podcast streaming platform.
Jenna is the CoFounder/ CEO of online author platform A Mighty Blaze, and she's one of Oprah's Top 30 Women Writers. Jenna’s first novel, Those Who Save Us, was awarded the Ribalow Prize by Hadassah Magazine, adjudged by Elie Wiesel; it was a Borders pick and the #1 bestselling book in Holland. The Stormchasers, Jenna’s bestselling second novel, was a Target Emerging Authors pick, a Borders pick, and featured in French Elle. Her third bestseller, The Lost Family, was an Indiebound pick and garnered starred reviews from all four trades: Publishers’ Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, LIbrary Journal. The bestselling memoir Woodrow on the Bench was a Midwestern Booksellers’ pick and is now available in paperback.
Jenna is based in Boston, where she taught at Boston University and at Grub Street Writers for over 20 years. Jenna currently teaches fiction, novel, and social media marketing for writers via Blaze Writers Project, based in Boston and online. She speaks nationally, internationally, and online about her work and writing life. Please visit Jenna on her website, www.jennablum.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Officially as of 4pm today, THIS teacher is on vacay! Goal #1 is to finally trim down my TBR shelf, some of these titles have been begging for me to read them for a long while. This short story collection features ten different works written by some of my favorite authors. As I always do when reading this type of collection, I will rate each short story and I do put quotes that are part of my KOBO edition.
World War II. Today, that's all it takes for me. Tell me it's a novel set during that war and you have a better than even chance of snagging my attention. Add that it's epic or a love story and you have me ordering the book in advance. ( Author Introduction by Kristin Hannah)
Oh yes, that is how it is for me but with the exception of the romance portion but definitely it is true of the time period.
Going Home Alyson Richman 4 stars
Your son has a gift. Sell what you must, but get him a violin and find a way to get him lessons. And do it as quickly as you can.
The first story in the collection features Zelik, a refugee of World War II now making a living in a tiny corner of Grand Central Station playing his violin. Zelik is haunted by the memories of what happened in his village and to his parents, but he hopes that his music can touch those around him. And one day it does as he notices a young woman pass his way at the apple strudel stand. That woman is Liesel, another refugee, a talented young dancer that was sponsored to come to New York City before the war closed the borders. Unfortunately, Liesel's parents could not come and were left behind in Czechoslovakia. Soon the violinist and the dancer connect and the beginning of a love story sweeps us away. It's classic AR and having read 5 of her novels, I was swept away by this post war romance.
The Lucky One by Jenna Blum 5 stars No one throws a gut punch like Jenna Blum. I do believe I have never fully recovered from Those Who Save Us which I read in May 2014. A German refugee and Holocaust Survivor, Peter is living with his cousins in New York City. His American cousin, Sol, treats Peter's story as a little bit of a circus show, including having Peter revealing the physical evidence of his time in Auschwitz. As more of Peter's story is revealed, Jenna Blum explores the differences between the experience of the European Jews and the way other Jewish communities in the west viewed them. There is one scene in particular that is very heartbreaking and shows that in the immediate aftermath of the war, there was a real lack of understanding as to what exactly had occurred in Europe.
The Branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy 3.5 stars
You cannot come home to Luxembourg, Cata's mother had penned when the war ended. It's too dangerous. Your brothers are young and still in school. Your father could lose his business.
Author Sarah McCoy and I have a very topsy-turvy relationship, but I enjoyed the exploration of a woman fleeing Europe to America because of her involvement in the Lebensborn program. As Cata takes the train from New York to Boston, she meets a blind man, Mr. Krupper, who offers insights into life that not only has her reflect on the choices of her past, but gives Cata an idea of what she can do with her future.
The Kissing Room by Melanie Benjamin 2 stars Another author that I have a rollercoaster type relationship with s I loved The Avitator's Wife but wasn't entirely won over by Alice I have Been. In this short story, Marjorie, is an aspiring New York actress fresh from Philiadephia I get that the angle was a woman in post war America trying to make it in the world, but it didn't really intrigue me.
I'll Be Seeing You by Sarah Jio 2.5 stars
There may always be a man waiting for you, she says. But you can't hinge life's most important decisions on which man is waiting for you.... You have to do what your heart wants. The first author in the collection that I have never read, Sarah Jio presents a melodramatic romance where the main female protagonist is forced to make a choice between the two men that she loves. Reminiscient of Hollywood films of the 30's and 40's, the overall story just didn't ring true for a cynical modern woman such as I have the habit of being.
I'll Walk Alone by Erika Robuck 3.5 stars Now this is perhaps the short story that I will remember the most because it is reflective that not everyone waiting at Grand Central station was looking forward to a potential reunion. As Robuck's main protagonist, Mary Josephine and her young son, Timmy wait for the arrival of husband and father, Mitch, flashbacks reveal that this marriage was less than rosy.
The Reunion by Kristina McMorris 4 stars How is it you two are best of friends or worst of enemies, and never in between?
Acknowledged by many of the other authors for bringing the idea of this collection to their attention, Mcmorris takes a look at the women who took to the skies as pilots during the war. Another author that I have never read, but is an author that I have had on my TBR for a long time, I enjoyed McMorris' exploration of the fierce competition between these pilots.
Tin Town by Amanda Hodgkinson 3. 5 stars Another author that has captured my heart ( see and cry over 22 Britannia Road, if you dare) and I was so excited to see her name in this collection. Surrounding the story of the British GI Brides that emigrated to the US, Hodgkinson's youthful protagonist, Molly, accompanies her mother, Irene and another war bride, Mrs. Lewis to Grand Central Station to greet their returning soldiers. Molly, we soon learn aches for the family farm in England and is hesitant about her stepfather, Jack who she feels doesn't really want her. I think what struck me was how beautiful the ending of this story was.
Strand of Pearls by Pam Jenoff 3.5 stars Each of us must find his or her own path. Ella travels from Shanghai to New York City to find her father that came to America 5 years before. What she discovers is not exactly what she anticipates, but a chance encounter with a fellow new arrival, David, makes her think about what kind of future she wants for herself. The ending is a bit shaky and a bit open for interpretation.
The Harvest Season by Karen White 4 stars. Some people break in a strong wind, while others learn to bend into it. Another author that lingers on my TBR shelf as a "want to read", Karen White explores a returning GI and his discovery that his family has relied on German POW's to work in their cotton fields and that's not the only thing that has changed.
Overall, another great addition to the WWII historical fiction fan's library.
I've been highly anticipating Grand Central for some time now. A number of the authors who took part in the anthology are among my favorites. This was either going to be a good thing or a bad.
In a word, Grand Central is fantastic. I devoured each and every story. Every story is it's own unique tale. I could picture myself as a bystander simply standing at the Grand Central Terminal--all the stories are happening on the same day. We as the reader get to peek into the lives of passersby, one day in the history of Grand Central.
Within a number of the short stories there is the most subtle overlay of an earlier character in another story, gently weaving the Grand Central Terminal together. I was a bit curious how these authors were going to fully engage me into such short stories and yet each and everyone of them did just that. Many of them, if not all, I felt could easily be turned into full novels. Each story had me engaged in the protagonists life. Some of these stories brought me to tears, some made me angry, some melted my heart. I was impressed by how different each story was, just as each of our stories are very different as we pass one another in life. We go home to different circumstances, different history, different pain, different hopes.
At the close of Grand Central, I sat back as it had been reaffirmed why some of these authors are indeed on my list of favorites. The authors I hadn't read before are now on my list of authors to read. As someone who is often asked to give author recommendations, I am thrilled to tell people to read Grand Central to have an opportunity to read from ten wonderful authors. Each different and wonderful.
I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more if the title and cover art weren't misleading. All the stories do take place in 1945 and Grand Central Station does play a role to a greater or lesser extent in all of them. And, yes, there are reunions. But the story arcs for nearly all of the stories are not about the reunion itself, but of a character's development as they think through the past prior to the reunion (if there is one, there isn't always.) The focus is generally on a single character's personal moment of growth, rather than a couple's moment. Most of the stories are also sad, filled with betrayals of some kind, or just very sad life stories. For example, one is a woman fleeing from an abusive husband, another a teen discovering her father is a bigamist. Many of the stories are about Jewish refugees -in fact they far outnumber the returning soldiers in this book.
Most of the stories are very well written and insightful, even moving, definitely above typical story collection standards. So much so that I found myself turning to research several authors in Goodreads to see what else they have done that I could get. And, many of the historic details are spot on, which is always a pleasure.
Nevertheless, what I was in the mood for this evening was what the book title and cover promised --love, reunited couples, returning soldiers, lovers turned strangers turning into lovers again. Even relief and happiness. Only a single one of these stories had that focus, and even it was focused far more on the past backstory than the book's present, and was told from the point of view of a child, rather than the couple in question.
So this book gets two stars for broken promises. Standing on its own merits, differently titled, I think it might have been a 3.5 with several of the stories hitting a 4 and two sitting at 1.
I'm always wary of anthologies, since most times I don't end up liking some or alot of the stories.
I took a chance on this one because two reasons: World War Two and an excellent spread of authors. (Though Alyson Richman, Sarah Jio, and Karen White's were the main reason of reason two haha). Some of these authors I didn't know but had heard good things an about so I was excited for this to come in the mail.
Was pleasantly surprised, love when that happens:)
All of these take place in/around/going through Grand Central station:
--- I'll be doing a short review of each story *points down* Here we go!
Going home Alyson Richman 4 stars
My first taste of Alyson Richman, though I've heard alot of good things about her.
This is one of those stories I wish had been longer because I fell in love with these characters. Only 39 pages but everything is so rich that you can feel the atmosphere and people around you.
You feel and root for Gregori and Liesel, wanting them to meet and interact with each other. You hope the same hopes as Liesel for her family and herself.
The ending made me smile though, the promise of the future shining in the lat sentences *sighs*
A lovely wonderful story.. nothing else to say:)
"He realized he was playing it for both himself and the girl, two strangers in New York who were neither Americans nor completely refugees. But a pair or souls finding themselves caught between each of those worlds." ----- The Lucky one by Jenna Blum 4stars A bit heavy but a well executed story... I just wanted to hug Peter and dive into the pages to help him.
Not sure exactly what to say here, this story was beautiful in a tragic way... not sure if that's the right phrase but it's close.
The ending leaves me hoping for the best with Peter, that he'll find a way for himself. *Watches the train pull off into the distance and waves*
Not a light story but a compelling read. ----'
The branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy 3.5 stars
This one was good but I didn't feel as connected to it as the others. Cata, I didn't like her in the beginning but she grew on me somewhat towards the end of the story. Her train companion was a delight:).
Well written though so maybe it's just me *shrugs* I'll pick up 'The Baker's daughter' and see if my opinion changes.
"The world is rooted in pain, and we, born to it, are perpetually suffering. Warring, hating and killing each other on partialities when our souls are all made of the same material. " ---- The Kissing room by Melanie Benjamin 3.5 stars
A lighter story than the first two, we meet Marjorie on her way to a screen test for MGM.
It was fun meeting Marjorie. She's driven and ambitious but a little naive as well.
I had red flags popping up when Mr. Holmes gave her is card, specially when he and Marjorie met up again.
The ending really wasn't clear, leaves you wondering even though you can guess pretty well what's happening. The last paragraph made we want to kick the talent scout in the balls..
A quick dip into a snapshot of a day in this girl's life, well written and left me satisfied yet wanting more.
----- I'll be seeing you by Sara Jio 5 stars, a beautiful story with heartbreak, romance, and tears... A couple whammys for the MC that broke my heart but the ending made me smile for her, wishing her the best. I have a feeling she'll be alright:).
Miss Jio reminds me of Kate Morton in the way that their writing is very atmospheric and they have a knack for writing beautiful characters you can cheer for and you don't soon forget.
Will definitely be reading more by this lady in the future <3
" I think of their roles in my journey, a journey that has brought me to this train, to this seat, to this moment. The ghosts of my past will always be with me, just as they are with all of us. We take a part of everything, everyone we encounter, with us on our path. Perhaps that's what makes life so rich, so full. A map, starred and circled and drawn with the paths we've taken, for better or worse." -----
I'll walk alone by Erika Robuck 4.5 stars Wow... I'm not sure what to say. A powerful story, heartbreaking but with some hope as well. I wanted to hug Josie and Timmy and help them to get away.
A random encounter with a stranger is maybe just what Josie needs to put things into perspective. The ending had my heart pounding, I was crossing my fingers and encouraging her in my head.
"I lift my face to the constellations on the ceiling. I'm breathing better up here. The air stirs more freely. I walk towards the stairs where the young lovers sat, but they are gone. Of all the difficulty of this day so far, their disappearance is what threatens to unmoor me." -----
The Reunion by Kristina McMorris 4stars
Really enjoyed this one, a quiet sort of story about friendship, love, and guilt.
The friendship between Millie and Virginia made me smile... it got off to a rocky start but they were thick as thieves and devoted to each other. Millie's sharp tongue reminded me of one of my best friends/sisters:). Millie reminded me of Peggy Carter in some ways.
I admired them for having the courage to be up in the air as pilots.
Taz was a charmer but a sweetheart, perfect fit for Virginia. ----- Tin town by Amanda Hodgkinson 4stars
Interesting concept and wonderful characters:) Sad and wistful in places but happy as well.
Miss Hodgkinson's style flows nicely, will see definitely be looking for more of her down the line. ----- 'Strand of Pearls' by Pam Jenoff 3.5-4 stars
Another sort of quiet story, it beckons you to follow Ella on her journey.. letting you see things slowly and encouraging you to sit there/travel with her. (That make sense?)
I was rooting for Ella and her father to have a wonderful reunion... as she neared her journey's end though... I could see what was going to happen. But I still hoped she would find/get what she was looking for.
She made the decision right for her in the end:)
Crappy review but I did enjoy this one a lot.
"The Harvest Season" by Karen White 5stars
Karen White never disappoints:) A moving, beautiful story... I felt for Will and Ginny, each affected by the war and in different ways.
The energy of their past and pain was thick between them, Ginny wanting to tell Will a 'secret" but holding back out of respect for him.
Everything unfolds in it's own time, sometimes simultaneously but it felt.. natural (if that's the right word). Nothing and no one felt cheapened. There was a respect in the writing.
Miss White has a way of telling her stories that makes it hard to pull yourself away.. You want to know what happens to these people:) I felt like I was walking along behind them, observing everything.
The secret of Ginny's I suspected but the reveal was done quietly and I was impressed with how Will handled everything in the end.
I was also proud of him in a certain moment on his father's porch, I have a feeling he'll be alright.
---- Love how each story had cameos, however small in each other's stories, lives intersecting with the busy Grand Central as a silent witness :) Some of the little cameos in other stories, gave you a clue as to what happened next with another character's story, others merely a glimpse of them through someone else's eyes. When these happened, I would stop for a moment and replay the moments in my head :).
I was already warned by a another review beforehand that the title and the cover of a book is misleading.. and it is but it didn't take away my enjoyment of the stories.
Some of these stories are a bit heavy/dark but well worth reading. Each author here has done a great job, none of the stories felt rushed or forced to me, and it really felt like I was back in Grand central and the various other locations of the time period.
Would highly recommend, an amazing collection in my opinion:) I've already purchased a couple books from a couple authors in here and will be on the lookout for more down the road.
I also fell in love with Karen White"s writing a little more thanks to this anthology:).
I want more of these people *sighs* highly recommend this collection!
One of the things I enjoy about a collection of short stories is the ability to read one or two, take a break and go back to it at some point. Not so with Grand Central! I sat down with it on a rainy Saturday and read through the entire collection. I felt like I was right there -Grand Central Station, Sept 1945 -I swear I could hear the music playing and imagined the woman in the yellow dress…the roses..the train ride…all of it. The love, loss, heartbreak and hope. Stories written with heart and respect. I hope to meet up with these characters again. All aboard!!
The title should be changed. Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion makes the reader think they are in for love and romance, sweetness and happiness. There was really only one happy ending, and maybe a few that didn't completely depress me. The stories were well written, but not what I went into this book expecting.
I don't read a lot of anthologies. In point of fact I actually make serious effort to avoid them whenever possible. I know it isn't fair, but these collections drive me crazy. The authors are rarely matched, the stories usually bleed together and by the time I reach the end, I usually want to scream.
Now I know what you're thinking. If I hate these publications so much, why did I not only pick up, but actually spend money on Grand Central? The answer my friends is simple: World War II. I'm a sucker for any fiction set during the conflict. The fact that three of my favorite authors happened to contribute to the collection didn't hurt, but the truth is, if it connects to the war, I'm in. No questions asked.
Fair warning friends, what follows promises to be a long review so please make yourselves comfortable. On the rare occasions in which I've consented to review an anthology, I've made a habit of offering thoughts to each author and with ten contributors on the docket... you get the idea.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, however, I do want to note how well each of the stories fit together. Though each entry touches on something unique and often times profound, Grand Central is very much a collective narrative that highlights the individual style of each author as well as their ability to work collaboratively. Reading this book was everything experience has taught me not to expect from such collections, but the attention to detail and mutual respect shown by each contributor made discovering these stories a rare pleasure.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ Going Home by Alyson Richman ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Alyson Richman was one of the three authors whose contributions prompted my notice of Grand Central and as usual, she did not leave me disappointed.
The nature of the anthology requires that Gregori and Liesel's story be brief, but I loved what Richmond did with it. I found the concept of two people connecting through music amid the hustle and bustle of Grand Central quite romantic and I loved her nod to the old world masters and the comfort cultural compositions might have brought those who escaped the turmoil and devastation of the war. I also appreciated the addition of historic references such as those to Carl Laemmle and Terezin as these facts anchored the story to the period and added depth where I didn't expect to find it.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ The Lucky One by Jenna Blum ═════════ ❧ ═════════
This being my first experience with Jenna Blum, I had no idea what to expect from The Lucky One, but was both pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed with her contribution to Grand Central.
A powerful short, the story centers Peter, a German Holocaust survivor who is haunted by the ghosts of loved ones lost in the genocide. Though notably less atmospheric than Going Home, The Lucky One is remarkably emotive. Blum taps into something incredibly poignant in her deft interpretation of Peter's experience, his personal loss and his struggle to move forward in a world whose prejudice and perceptions find him socially displaced.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ The Branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Sarah McCoy's The Branch of Hazel is factually interesting, but I admit I found the piece something of a challenge. Historically speaking I loved the material in Cata's story, but I couldn't help feeling as though I were missing something.
It is my understanding that both Cata and Hazel were introduced in McCoy's The Baker's Daughter, a fact which probably explains my bewilderment as I've not yet had opportunity to read the title. Still, I was drawn to McCoy's use of the Lebensborn program and the varied emotions and ideologies she attributed to the mothers who took part.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ The Kissing Room by Melanie Benjamin ═════════ ❧ ═════════
I was more than eager to get into Melanie Benjamin's The Kissing Room. Already a fan of her work, I was intrigued by the title of her piece and couldn't wait to see how it played into the anthology.
Several things about this chapter really appealed to me. One, it incorporated an aspect of the terminal as a major component in the story. Two, the lead was not an immigrant and had a mindset that was very different from the characters I'd already been introduced to. Three, Marjorie's naivety is fun to read and offers a nice break from the heavier drama in McCoy, Blum and Richman's contributions. And four, the ending. I wont ruin it for you, but I loved the one-eighty Benjamin pulled off and how that moment stood in such contrast to the rest of the short.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ I'll Be Seeing You by Sarah Jio ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Confession: The title of Sarah Jio's contribution made poor first impression. No joke, I actually stifled a groan. I adore Sinatra as much as the next girl, but the nod to his iconic tune is such a cliché. Don't believe me? Ask Suzanne Hayes, Margaret Mayhew, Benita Brown, Jerry Borrowman...
Now my initial reaction aside, I loved this story and not just because I need a Grace in my life. This whole idea of standing at a crossroad, needing closure, being intimidated by the decisions one is faced with - the whole thing spoke to my soul. I'm not much of a crier, but if I were I would have been reaching for a tissue over this one. Sentimental and stirring, Rose's story isn't one I'll soon forget.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ I'll Walk Alone by Erika Robuck ═════════ ❧ ═════════
This sounds ridiculous, but I'm actually speechless. Like Sarah Jio, Erika Robuck tapped into something raw and relatable. I know I shouldn't make this about me, but there is a moment in this piece where I literally saw myself and had to do a double take before continuing.
Josie's story is heartbreaking, but it is also hopeful. There is something very authentic in Robuck's submission, something intimate and emotional. Again, I'm not one to blubber, but I really liked how Robuck harnessed such an intense theme and molded into something that is both meaningful and thought-provoking.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ The Reunion by Kristina McMorris ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Moving back into period specific fiction, author Kristina McMorris' The Reunion tackles two birds with one stone. Touching on both female pilots and the loss of a fellow service member, her submission adds new dimension to the collection for its incorporation of topics yet seen in Grand Central.
I don't want to downplay the historic content in this piece, but I truly appreciated McMorris' depiction of feminine friendship. Maybe it's just me, but I found the complex dynamic she created between Millie and Virginia refreshing for its accuracy. At risk of looking the fool, I'll also admit to developing a bit of a literary crush on Taz. I know the adage, boys are better in books, but the simple charm in McMorris' portrayal of her romantic lead added much to the story.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ Tin Town by Amanda Hodgkinson ═════════ ❧ ═════════
War brides are easily one of the most romantic plot points in war fiction, so I figured it was only a matter of time before one appeared in Grand Central and while it took longer than expected, my assumption proved correct with Amanda Hodgkinson's Tin Town.
Interestingly enough, this piece proved one of the more intriguing submissions in the collection. Traditionally, we think of young women, running into rushed affairs with dashing soldiers, but Hodgkinson threw readers a curve ball in matching a widowed English mother with a New York lawyer turned officer. Told from the perspective of a child, Hodgkinson turns the romantic stereotype on its head while examining the magnitude of what happened to those women who crossed the Atlantic for their GIs.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ Strand of Pearls by Pam Jenoff ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Strand of Pearls was a fun piece for me. Jenoff has been on my favorites list for a while, but the fact that I read Grand Central while reading The Winter Guest marked the first time I'd ever attempted two works by the same author at the same time.
Does this mean I favored her? No. In fact I was probably harder on this piece than I was any other as I couldn't help cross-comparing the two, but that's neither here nor there. What I liked about this piece is how Jenoff used Ella and David to examine micro level issues like survivor's guilt and faith, as well as macro level points such as global politics and cultural change in the aftermath of World War II. The ending hit a little close to home, but even so, I liked the piece and can't help wishing there were more to Ella's story.
═════════ ❧ ═════════ The Harvest Season by Karen White ═════════ ❧ ═════════
Of all the contributors to Grand Central, Karen White was the only name with which I was entirely unfamiliar. I checked her out before opening the anthology and I wasn't exactly sold so the fact that her submission is my favorite is as much a surprise to me as it is anyone reading this.
There is so much in this piece that I hardly know where to begin. White's treatment of Germanophobia by itself would have hooked me, but the story she created between Will and Ginny was so wonderfully unpredictable... It sounds like a cheesy pitch, and I don't mean to sway anyone as every story in this collection is worth reading, but if you limit yourself to one, let The Harvest Season be the one you choose.
I like reading stories that take place in the WWII era. This time period fascinates me. This is why when I heard about this anthology I had to check it out. I have to say that this is a fantastic anthology. I loved almost all of the stories in this collection. Not to say that the ones I did not love were bad because they were good. It is just that I wanted more out of them. They kind of felt incomplete as short stories. Or they did not bring me into the story as well as the others did. Although I felt like I was living in this era and could picture Grand Central Station and all of the characters in this book hanging out there. Even though I have never been there.
The lives of everyone in these stories were great. Of course I enjoyed reading Karen White and Pam Jenoff's stories. Two authors that I am familiar with their work and enjoy reading. The other authors I am not so familiar with but now I can say I am after reading this anthology. I will look for more books by these other authors. Grand Central is a joyous, lovely anthology. Check it out for yourself.
Everything about this anthology, from the cover photo to the amazing cast of authoresses, is absolute perfection. I was whisked away 10 times over to another time and place, emotionally entangled in the reality of life post WWII. Among the greatest moments of my life thus far was being present not only for the launch of this book at Grand Central Terminal, but the absolute honor and privilege to share dinner with the authors themselves in the famed Oyster Bar Restaurant. The beautiful memories created during this NYC trip only added to the truly magical and stunning nature of an already impressive read.
To keep my thoughts straight and reflect on each novella, the following are my personal notes:
"Going Home" By Alyson Richman- Told in the same lyrical prose that makes her stories so exceptional, Alyson Richman's tale of Liesel and Gregori collides when ballet meets the violin. Gregori goes on to serve as an ideal link to other stories in the anthology. "He and his Instrument needed each other, like partners in a waltz. Without the other, there could be no music." I mean, come on!! This is why I ADORE Alyson Richman!
"The Lucky One" By Jenna Blum A haunting tale of Peter's attempt to find life beyond the terror of Nazi death camps. Though he lost everything that meant anything, he is slowly regaining strength and mental perseverance to forge a new path. (I seriously love Jenna Blum. Her sparky personality is evident through her writing... Which is so fun for the reader!)
"The Branch of Hazel" By Sarah McCoy (At long last, we hear more of Hazel from The Baker's Daughter!) We can all agree The Lebensborn program is peculiarly fascinating... Sarah McCoy's novella follows an ex- member as she leaves her old life behind and makes her way to America. LOVE the thrill of reconnecting to a character of the past.
"The Kissing Room" By Melanie Benjamin The tale of bright- eyed and eager Marjorie is a stark contrast to the ones told before it. It's a completely different perspective as to the happenings at Grand Central Terminal, giving the anthology range.
"I'll Be Seeing You" By Sarah Jio Loved this story, and became attached to Rose, Louis, Sam, and all the others so quickly! So much emotion and heartache wrapped into a small space. This phrase from the last page summarizes the story perfectly ( and is just beautifully said) : "The ghosts of my past will always be with me, just as they are with all of us. We take a part of everything, every one we encounter, with us on our path. Perhaps that's what makes life so rich, so full. A map, starred and circled and drawn with the paths we've taken, for better or for worse." GLORIOUS.
"I'll Walk Alone" By Erika Robuck Wow! I was not expecting the turn this story took, but am happily and jaw -droppingly surprised by the conclusion . Perfect story, and flawlessly written. I would LOVE to know what future awaits these characters.. A sequel perhaps?!? (Everything this author touches is just intoxicating. Example: Hemingway's Girl!!!)
"The Reunion" By Kristina McMorris An emotional, heart wrenching story completed in Kristina McMorris' impeccable style. Her narrative provided beautiful texture to this already impressive anthology. I do however, need to know the conclusion to Virginia and Taz's love story! I NEED MORE!
"Tin Town" By Amanda Hodgkinson A sweet little story about a tender girl, and her perspective of all happening around her. Very different from all the other novellas.
"Strand of Pearls" By Pam Jenoff This story opens with a dialogue between 2 strangers from similar yet vastly opposing worlds. The cruelty of David's past serves to heighten the naïveté of Ella's. Ella soon finds herself with no alternative but to shoulder the burden of the secrets left in her fathers wake, and forge her own path- all naïveté aside. Pam Jenoff is the master of great story telling!
"The Harvest Season" By Karen White An entire novel's worth of intrigue and emotion packed into very few pages! The Mississippi Delta backdrop differed from all the other novellas, providing a whole 'nother feel of sorts. It was a nice change, and perfectly placed as the last of the anthology. Karen White always delivers, whether with 300 pages or 30. Awesome!
I'm thinking.... A 2nd Grand Central anthology in the next couple years. You better believe I'll be first in line!!! So sad this reading experience is completed... Until I devour it again ;)
I absolutely loved this anthology, a wonderful collection of short stories, each to be read and savored! First of all, what a brilliant concept: 10 of the best authors on the planet, each writing a story which takes place in part at Grand Central Station right after the end of WWII. Such an intriguing idea to begin with! Each story was a delight on its own, rich in characters and story. I loved reading how each author described the look, feel, and ambiance of Grand Central Station in their own unique way. Although each story was completely separate from the others, I enjoyed those snippets into the preceding story, when we'd catch a second glimpse at one of the characters as they continued their journey through Grand Central Station. I hope that in the future these authors will put together another anthology like this one. I'd be first in line to read it!
*4.5 stars* I enjoyed this book and enjoyed reading stories from authors I haven't read before. My favorites were the stories by Sarah Jio and Pam Jenoff, I'd give both if those 5 stars. I'm interested in reading more from the other authors featured in this anthology.
This is an anthology of short stories that take place just after the close of World War II. They are all connected to Grand Central Station, and much of the action takes place there. The stories themselves are not all happy; many are filled with pain, fear, hope and love. They all take place on or around the same day in September 1945.
Each story is separate unto itself, but many of the stories reference, ever so slightly, a character from the previous one. It is in these pages that we are allowed to glimpse some of the fear of those traveling from overseas to America for the first time; their uneasiness and fright etched upon their very beings. And yet they are understanding that America will be kind to them; that it is different from the world they have always known – that there will be no police to search them out, no one to as for their ‘papers’, no one to judge them. Not all of the stories have to do with transplanted souls; there are a few that do center around Americans themselves, but even these show the horrors and aftermath of a terrible war.
I will admit, that as in all books, a couple of the stories I really didn’t care for, as they left me feeling that I would have liked a conclusion of sorts; I do understand that there was not one because there was still a story to be told by these people; but as with anyone, you like to have some sort of resolution. However, do not let this keep you from reading this wonderful book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in history, World War II, or just a very good book.
I have read enough books to know not to judge a book by its cover but in this case I still did it. This cover was awesome and it summed up everything I was craving to read, war time lovers about to embrace at a historically romantic location. I wanted to experience that cover again and again with each story. Let me be blunt, most of these stories are not that cover. Not to say that they aren't extremely well written but it's almost like most of them had a bet on who could write the most potent tear jerking story, spotlighting many historical shames of our past.
The Tearjerkers: The book started off amazing with the bittersweet story called “Going Home” by Alyson Richman. This story is worth the entire book and I was only disappointed when it was over because I wanted to read more about her characters. Then the book heads into a dark direction with the next story, the Lucky One by Jenna Blum, which leaves the readers feeling a sharp bitter sadness. Next, the Branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy felt like a PSA to shine a light on a dark piece of our history that few know about. By the time I read The Kissing Room, I needed a spark of happiness but I felt completely sucker punched in reading about this young naïve girl which had nothing to do with the theme of postwar love and reunion, it��s only seemingly connection was the time period set in the tragic story. Finally, I’ll Walk Alone by Erika Robuck will make a woman feel fortunate to live in this time period and have more resources to leave an abusive situation.
Inspired by the Cover: The main stories that actually incorporated the theme of love with a soldier and utilized the train station in their storylines were I’ll be seeing you by Sarah Jio and The Harvest Season by Karen White.
Top Kudos goes to The Reunion by Kristina McMorris, Tin Town by Amanda Hodgkinson and Strand of Perils by Pam Jenoff. They did a great job of educating/entertaining readers with a piece of our history while giving a real sense of what it was like for women in that time period but without feeling like you needed an anti-depressant by the final page.
There were some truly excellent stories in this book. I just wish the emotional flow of the book hadn’t started from the second story with such darkness that I almost put the book down. I’m glad I didn’t because the stories by Alyson Richman, Kristina McMorris, Amanda Hodgkinson and Pam Jenoff were extremely rich and powerful.
The stories in this book are all worth reading. Some have happy endings, and some do not. But stories center around people who have, for one reason or another, a purpose for being at Grand Central Station right after WWII. They are there to meet loved ones, to travel to meet loved ones, to wait for loved ones who will not return.
One of the stories I particularly liked was an acknowledgement of the exemplary heroism and strength of women who ferried planes to and from their intended destinations; sometimes in war zones. These women were not only harassed when they were in service to our country, but they were not even allowed to be considered as in the service. I do recognize that steps have been taken to finally recognize these womens' contribution.
Ten mesmerizing short stories that successfully capture the atmosphere and feel of Grand Central Station in September 1945, just after World War II, where we meet European refugees, returning soldiers and hard-working single women, go in and out of this beautiful pivotal place; and decide what to do with their future. The introduction to the book by Kristin Hannah had me totally hooked, even before I started.
Story 1: Going Home by Alyson Richman – two young lonely souls, who were able to escape the horrors of the World War II back in their homeland; for Gregori, the virtuoso violinist, it’s Poland, for Liesel, the dancer, it’s Czechoslovakia, find each other through their love of music and art. I was totally engrossed in this magnificently written short story.
Story 2: The Lucky One by Jenna Blum – a beautifully written, much so more somber short story about a young Auschwitz survivor, who lost his wife and twin toddler daughters, working as a bus boy in the Oyster Club of Grand Central, and tries to survive in this new world. There’s a spark of hope for young Peter at the end and I hung on to that.
Story 3: The Branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy – Through the story of Cata, embarking on a train to Boston, we understand a bit better the horrors that the young German girls who were in the Lebensborn Program had to go through. This historical truth of many blond young women forced to sleep with officers and made to give birth to young Aryan children against their will is not often talked about, but we should never forget that German-born people suffered at the hand of the Nazis too.
Story 4: The Kissing Room by Melanie Benjamin – A naïve young 18-year old theatre student dreams of being the new Ava Gardner. She has an appointment with a MGM Talent Scout in Grand Central’s Kissing Room, but is he legitimate? I didn’t enjoy this one so much.
Story 5: I’ll be Seeing You by Sarah Jio – A young nurse named Rose is saying goodbye to her boyfriend/fiancé, and departing from Grand Central, in NYC, to make the journey to Seattle in order to meet up with another young man she gave her heart to 2 years earlier, the day before he left for war in Europe. Who will Rose choose? The resilience and good nature of Rose drew me in for sure.
Story 6: I’ll Walk Alone by Erika Robuck – A young mother with her three year old is waiting in Grand Central for her husband returning from the war. She has an important decision to make – will she return to her old miserable life or will follow some wise words spoken to her, and take a new path?
Story 7: The Reunion by Kristina McMorris – A young WASP travels from Grand Central to Ohio to come to terms with the death of her best friend, a year after her plane crash. This was a story of hope and I enjoyed it very much.
Story 8: Tin Town by Amanda Hodgkinson – A twelve-year English farm girl accompanies her mother, who’s a new war bride to be reunited with the GI she met and married while he was stationed in the English country.
Story 9: Strand of Pearls by Pam Jenoff – Another rather sad, but still hopeful story of 2 misplaced people; one young man who survived Birkenau – and an even younger Russian Jewish girl, who’s looking for her father in New York City.
Story 10: The Harvest Season by Karen White – Finally we leave Grand Central, and go to Mississippi where we witness the reunion of lovers, who were separated by the war and misunderstanding. I think this one was one of my favorites, thanks to the change in setting and little John-John.
Overall, this book wasn't what I expected - I was surprised, and also I was delighted that these stories focused more often on the young European refugees who fled tragedy and were eager to build a new life in the US; which was easier in the 1940ies. The end of WWII is an important moment in American history and I'm glad most of the authors brought this to our attention.
Een Holocaust-overlever werkt in de Oyster Bar, waar een klant hem doet denken aan zijn in de oorlog gestorven moeder.
Op zomaar een willekeurige dag passeren duizenden mensen het Grand Central Station van New York. De fluistergalerij, het plafond vol sterren, het informatiehuisje en de enorme, vierzijdige klok: het is een plek waar mensen komen voor afscheid en weerzien. En elk van hen heeft een verhaal .
Deze op elkaar aansluitende verhalen spelen zich af vlak na de Tweede Wereldoorlog, een tijd van hoop, onzekerheid, verandering en vernieuwing.
Dit is echt een prachtig boek die elke fan van deze schrijfsters zeker moet lezen.
Het eerste verhaal is een soort proloog op het boek 'De verloren familie'. Erg mooi! Het tweede verhaal nodigt je uit om meer van de hoofdpersoon te weten te komen. Het is bovenal erg goed geschreven.
Het pad van de hoofdpersoon in het eerste verhaal kruist met de hoofdpersoon uit het tweede verhaal in een vluchtige ontmoeting op grand Central Station in New York. Leuk die oversprong!
I loved this collection of stories by many terrific and notable historical fiction authors. Many of them I read for the first time, but definitely there are many I’d read again. All the stories share a common theme, it takes place in part in the Grand Central Terminal in September 1945, towards the end of WWII. Between immigrants coming from Europe, couples reuniting after the war and many other stories, there is much material covered. There are stories of hope, fear and trying to start anew. These stories are very well written. I highly recommend this book.
I really enjoyed this collection of World War II fiction. I enjoyed the concept that all had a central theme of Grand Central Terminal in NYC. I found it very interesting how some writers chose to use the location considerably while others simply used it as a backdrop or a starting or ending place. As would be expected with a collection of different authors some of the stories appealed to me more so than others. While I can honestly say none were poor or of a lesser quality, I can however say there was one particular writer I've never read before that upon reading this short story I have decided to remove one of her books from my "want to read" list. It was simply a personal decision as I wasn't enthused with her writing style and I didn't like the non-resolution ending. I felt cheated plain and simple. (And no, I'm telling which author). I did find the stories I enjoyed the most came from authors I've already discovered and it simply reinforced my feelings about reading their books when they become available. My two favorite stories were from Kristina McMorris (loved this one and wish she would have kept it and written a full length novel) and Karen White (loved this story, and honestly felt it was the strongest writing in the entire book. I also loved the cameo "resolution" from the previous story. I wish there had been more of that!) Honorable mention authors are Jenna Blum and Pam Jenoff. I was also pleased with Amanda Hodgkinson's story. I really liked the characters and feel she did a fantastic job of creating vibrant, real-life characters in such a short amount of words. I have never read a full length novel of hers but I have one waiting for me on my true life need to read shelf. Maybe I should jump it up in the queue? Hmm.. My biggest criticism of the book is really not much of one but maybe a question about why the title and cover was chosen? It plain and simply is misleading. I can think of not one story in the book that is a true love story. At least not a romantic, happy and or even a particularly feel good story. Definitely not what a reasonable person would expect from the marketing. Personally though I was not dissapointed or surprised since I've read most of these ladies books before. I received exactly what I was expecting
True rating if possible~~~ 4.5 stars. I'm withholding a half star because of the one story that was weaker and a couple of irritating ambiguous endings.
Last year Grand Central Station turned 100 years old. This drew a renewed interest in its history and the millions of stories of people who had passed through its doors. A group of best-selling authors decided to create their own stories set at Grand Central on the same day, just after the end of World War II. After reading each other's stories, the authors found a way to piece their stories together, connecting characters from one story into the next. The result is truly well-done.
All of the stories in this anthology are connected to the war. A Jewish violinist plays at Grand Central for the pure joy of it and for a beautiful woman who visits a pastry stand every day. A Holocaust survivor works as a busboy at the Oyster Bar, but can't seem to forget his previous life before the war. A woman returns home to a man she loved before the war and finds life isn't as she expected. An abused wife and son wait for her husband to return from the war and meet a woman who will change their lives forever. A woman pilot visits the family of her best friend and realizes she needs to trust her instincts in order to move on. A budding actress waits for the audition of a lifetime in the famous Kissing Room. These stories and five others bring in iconic pieces of Grand Central that visitors to the terminal will be able to envision and feel part of the story. Every single story left me in tears and wishing there was more, but Sarah Jio's and Erika Robuck's are ones I am still thinking about days later.
In each of these stories, you feel the devastating pain of war and the love that kept hope alive. You will be left wanting more and you won't be able to forget the characters or their choices. The unique way the stories are intertwined is a treat that the reader will enjoy finding as they read. This anthology is emotionally moving and so descriptive that you will be able to place yourself in Grand Central and see the lives played out. It truly is a splendid compilation of high-caliber writing. Fans of historical fiction and love stories will be riveted and deeply moved. It was a book I didn't want to end.
I first learned of this anthology at the end of last year when reviewing: The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris. I was so excited to have recently been offered the opportunity to review Grand Central prior to it's publication date: July 1, 2014.
Kristina McMorris spearheaded the idea of gathering ten best selling authors to commemorate 100 years since the creation of one of the nations most historical landmarks, Grand Central Terminal. All of these unique short stories feature Grand Central Terminal in some way and are also about the time when WWII ended.
After reading the wonderful introduction by Kristin Hannah, I felt this was going to be good collection and it was. I didn't read the stories in the order they were presented in the book. I quickly read the two stories by the authors I was most familiar with: The Reunion by Kristina McMorris and The Harvest Season by Karen White. I loved both. Both made me cry! Then I took my time and enjoyed the others. They did not all make me cry, but were all so clever. I was happy to have the chance to preview some new authors that I was not familiar with.
The creativity of these writers is amazing. They each took a common theme and wrote completely different short stories. Each one was very enjoyable in its own way.
Introduction by Kristin Hannah vii Going Home by Alyson Richman 1 The Lucky One by Jenna Blum 39 The Branch of Hazel by Sarah McCoy 77 The Kissing Room by Melanie Benjamin 113 I'll Be Seeing You by Sarah Jio 147 I'll Walk Alone by Erika Robuck 181 The Reunion by Kristina McMorris 217 Tin Town by Amanda Hodgkinson 255 Strand of Pearls by Pam Jenoff 289 The Harvest Season by Karen White 321
I would like to thank the publishers, The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group (USA) for sending me this book, free of charge, for review.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group (USA). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Ineens zag ik dit ebook voorbij komen en die moest ik nu eenmaal hebben. Ik heb van zowel Jenna Blum (Het familieportret) als Sarah McCoy (De bakkersdochter) een boek ongelezen in mijn kast staan. Tevens wilde ik even snel een inhaalslagje maken, aangezien ik binnenkort fulltime ga werken.
Het eerste verhaal is van Jenna Blum en betreft een joodse jongen van 28 die de Tweede Wereldoorlog heeft overleeft. Aangezien hij geen familie meer overheeft in Europa, vertrekt hij naar Amerika, waar zijn zeer welvarende neef Sol woont. Hoewel je zou verwachten dat zo'n jongen compleet overspoelt wordt door liefde, is niets minder waar. Hoewel hij zijn vrouw en kinderen heeft verloren, ziet iedereen hem echt als een last. Dit eerste verhaal is dan ook voornamelijk erg sneu. Hij doet zo zijn best, maar het lukt hem niet om over zijn image als keukenhulpje heen te komen. Hoewel ik het einde van dit verhaaltje eigenlijk wel mooi vond, had dit verhaal echt een stuk langer mogen zijn.
Het tweede verhaal is van Sarah McCoy. Een compleet ander verhaal, want hier volgen we een jonge Duitse vrouw die eigenlijk meer heeft meegewerkt aan de Tweede Wereldoorlog dan dat ze er onder leed. Nu de oorlog is afgelopen, vlucht ze naar Amerika, om een nieuw leven te beginnen. Dit verhaal vond ik vooral heel interessant. Alle gebeurtenissen in dit verhaal gebeurde ook werkelijk zo en daar was ik me nog helemaal niet van bewust. Hoewel je haar eigenlijk zou moeten verafschuwen, gebeurde dat niet.
Allebei de verhalen, waren eigenlijk te kort. Er zat in mijn ogen veel potentie in om van deze verhalen ene boek te maken. Te kort om je echt in te leven in de personages, genoeg om je te laten verlangen naar de twee echte boeken van deze dames.
Wat ik nog wel erg jammer vond is dat de 2 verhalen slechts op een zeer klein punt kruisen. Ook daar had veel meer uitgehaald kunnen worden denk ik!
I received a copy in exchange for my review - full review on twoclassychics.com
When I saw the title and the round up of authors in this book, I knew that this would be something special and I was not wrong. Take a single place like Grand Central Station and the millions of visitors that go through there on a daily basis as the common thread. Add in amazing stories that are crafted by strong authors of love, romance, history and women’s fiction and you get an enthralling book that is hard to put down.
From the very first story, I was hooked. These women have amazing talent to tell memorable stories rich with detail that transport you right into the story. These short stories are full of the emotion of the time that bring you to a few tears, many smiles and even a bit of sadness.
I am not going to go into much detail here since these are short stories but suffice it to say that this collection is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in another time, even just for a while. Perfect for when you have a short time to read as each story is a stand alone piece connected by a single place, on the same day. Each author chosen to write offers a fabulous read that will having you looking for more of their stories. I did review one of the books here from author Erika Robuck and her writing is amazing. I was thrilled to find her in this awesome book.
If you love history, love and romance, you need to checkout this book. Beautiful writing and light reading for summer enjoyment.
Zo nu heb ik alles van Jenna Blum gelezen, dat in het Nederlands vertaald is. Dit kleine boekje bestaat uit twee korte verhalen. Het eerste verhaal 'De geluksvogel' is de prequel van 'De verloren familie' de nieuwste roman van Jenna Blum die ik afgelopen december las. Heerlijk om nog even terug te mogen naar dat goede boek. Het tweede verhaal is 'De hazelaar' van Sarah McCoy. Haar boek 'De bakkersdochter' las ik voordat ik Goodreads had en deze ga ik ook net als 'Het oude huis' snel oppakken. De twee korte verhalen vind ik niet geweldig, ze zijn aardig maar meer ook niet. Als ik het goed zie, bevatten de andere buitenlandse edities van dit boekje meerdere verhalen. Jammer dat hier in het Nederlands niet voor gekozen is, misschien was dat beter geweest voor de samenhang.
This is an anthology of short stories by a group of top selling women authors and all of the stories at least partially take place in Grand Central station in New York City at the end of World War II. Some of them are romances, some are stories of Holocaust survivors trying to survive in a new environment - the stories touch on many aspects of life during this tumultuous time period in America. All of the stories are fantastic but some of them will stay with you long after you long after you have read them. I especially liked the short stories by Alyson Richmon and Kristina McMorris but all of the stories were very good. This is a must-read!
I thoroughly enjoyed all of these end of WWII stories set at Grand Central Terminal in NYC; I rated them 4, 4.5, and 5. The last short story "Harvest Season" was so good I'm wanting more, more, more! There's a lot of variety in the stories and several were written by authors I've already read and admired. Two years ago we visited the terminal and I commented to hubby that there must be a million stories (if only the walls could talk). We also ate at the Oyster Bar, which appears in several scenes. It's a fascinating concept to take an iconic location and weave stories about various people around it. How about Victoria Station next? The possibilities are endless.