- “The Dry Grass Of Summer” by Anna Jean Mayhew (talkthetalkbookclub.wordpress.com)
Three Word Review: Heartbreak, Tragedy, Secrecy
Sarah’s Key surrounds two individuals and time periods: Sarah a ten-year-old Jewish girl in 1942, and Julia an American Journalist in 2002. Both stories begin in Paris, France. Julia begins research on the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel’ d’ Hiv‘. The Vel’d’Hiv’ Roundup was a mass arrest upon 13,152 Jewish men, women, and children in July 1942 by the French police. Julia discovers that many French citizens are either unaware of the tragic event or deny it. Sarah’s family was arrested and taken to the Vélodrome d’Hiver (indoor cycle track) where they lived in terrible conditions before being sent to death camps. During the arrest, Sarah told her younger brother Michael to hide in the cupboard and she would return to free him with the key. Julia discovers a secret connection to Sarah and is determined to learn all the facts. However, during her research into Sarah’s past she begins to question her own life. Sarah’s Key is filled with heartbreak through Sarah’s and Julia’s eyes.
I enjoyed Sarah’s Key, but at times I thought it was a little predictable. It highlights a small tragic event through the eyes of a young girl. I think Sarah’s Key would be a great discussion for a book club.
Three Word Review: Adventure, Revenge, Comradeship
“All for one, one for all.”
The Three Musketeers is an adventure book about four French men, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan, who stick together at any cost. Their motto: “All for one, one for all” is often used even today to describe a close friendship. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are musketeers who fight for the king and d’Artagnan strives to be one of them. They’re not even close friends at the beginning. They come across many enemies, but are always up to the challenge to duel and use their swords. Of course, there’s even a lady in distress that they must fight to rescue. The Three Musketeers has a little everything: adventure, revenge, political conflict, romance, suspense, and humor. The many pages seem to quickly fly by. Dumas wrote in newspaper installments, so each chapter leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next. I highly suggest this book for a fun read. The Three Musketeers is the first book in the d’Artagnan series.
Since I don’t read French, I researched different translations. The translations vary between 600 – 750 pages, so you need to decide which version fits closest to the original text and the style of writing you prefer. Just make sure you do not read the abridged version. I probably could have read a translation that was closer to the text, but this writing flowed for me. Movies based on this book don’t match the thrilling writing. I’m now ready to read Twenty Years After, which is the sequel to The Three Musketeers.
Eilis Lacey grew up in a small city in Ireland during the 1950s. She lives with her mother and beautiful older sister. A visiting Irish priest from Brooklyn, New York, offers Eilis a job. She begins her journey to America for the first time where new adventures await. She becomes a sales girl at a department store, however she desires to work in an office setting. Gradually, Eilis adjusts to her new lifestyle and suddenly finds herself in love. She’s often not sure what to include in the letters she writes home. Surprising news from home causes Eilis to second guess events in her life.
I enjoyed Brooklyn as you read about her becoming a young woman experiencing New York. The book kept my interest and there was depth to the characters. I quickly read to discover how Eilis would handle new events in her life. Unfortunately, I was sad when I finished the book so quick. I recommend this book.
I have never read such a unique book. Trevor Stratton is an American professor who teaches in Paris. He discovers a box that contains a mixture of objects, such as letters, photos, gloves, and even a scarf. The owner of the box and objects is Louise Brunet who lives in Paris, through both world wars. It is somewhat a mystery how the objects connect and fully describe her life. Trevor keeps the box a secret and attempts to understand Louise better. Some things he’s able to piece together from the objects is that Louise had a love for a cousin, a marriage to a dependable man, and a passionate attraction to her neighbor. However, Stratton almost sets his imagination free and fills in the empty spots to create her full life. What made this book so unique is that there are actual photographs of each object. It felt as though I discovered the objects with Trevor. 13, rue Thérèse refers to the building where she lives. The book reminded me slightly of The Time Traveller’s Wife, because the book moves past to present and the reader gets both Trevor’s and Louise’s viewpoint.
The author actually found these items in a box that belonged to a real Louise Brunt. However, that is where the similarities differ because the Louise in the book is completely fictionally. In the back of the book, the reader is able to scan QR codes to discover more information and details about the objects. At times I was confused while reading the book, but the reader should just go with it. I love books that contain letters and illustrations, so this was quite an enjoyable book.
I read this book in two days, which either shows it was great or it was easy reading. I really enjoyed this book until the end. Basically, the plot is that a chaperone, Cora, travels with a young 15-year-old, Louise Brooks, to New York, for dance school. The book takes place during the 1920s and highlights women’s vote, clothing changes, prohibition, great depression, etc. Cora is a married women with two grown sons living in Kansas. She participates in society functions and follows all the ‘rules’ such as morals and how someone should dress. She travels to New York, in order to discover more about her past. Louise doesn’t enjoy following Cora’s rules and often tries to break free. Cora discovers herself more than just being the society woman, wife, and mother. Her spirit is almost awakened as she sees Louise act certain ways. Her life changes dramatically when she returns
Louise Brooks was an American dancer, model, and silent film actress. Her film career and fame wasn’t always a success. If you’re hoping to learn more about Louise Brooks then this probably isn’t the book for you. In fact, she’s mainly in only the first third of the book. Brooks’ impact in the story is how she influenced her chaperone, Cora, during their trip to New York.
I really wasn’t pleased with the ending. Yes, Cora discovered herself while in New York, but I think it was too drastic than what probably would actually happen. There wasn’t too much character depth. The author seemed to need to include all details from this time period. Did I enjoy the book? Yes, but I didn’t love the book.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the story of Henry who is Chinese American growing up in the 1940s in Seattle. Henry notices items taken out of the Panama Hotel that has been boarded up. The items belonged to Japanese families forced to leave to internment camps during WWII. It brings back memories to his friendship with a Japanese American girl, Keiko. Henry’s father is against anything Japanese, so Henry must keep his friendship a secret. Keiko and Henry are American but feel out of place at school, since they stand out. The book moves from the past to the present. Many years later, Henry examines items in the Panama Hotel in the hopes to discover what he’s been searching for.
I finished this book for the second time and loved it just as much as the first time. There are true aspects in the book, which the author explains. Panama Hotel actually exists and items in the basement did belong to Japanese families. The Japanese internment camps and WWII events are also true. At times, I felt that the author tried to squeeze anything relating to Seattle, into the book. (Perhaps that’s because I live south of Seattle.) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a moving book that provides family relationships, cultural tensions, historical aspects, and even a hint of romance. I recommend this book.