Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki is a novel based on the betrayal of Benedict Arnold and told from the point of view of Peggy Shippen-Arnold's fictional lady's maid.
Peggy's father, Judge Edward Shippen, tried to remain neutral during the Revolutionary War, but tended to be more of a loyalist, supporting the British Army. Peggy was romantically involved with the handsome Major John Andre. But when the British left Philadelphia her sights turned toward General Benedict Arnold  who she felt could provide her with the high society life she craved. Peggy, in her lust for power and fortune, was instrumental in constructing a plan for her husband to spy for the British and turn important documents over to Major John Andre, along with the coveted West Point.

Friday, May 10, 2019

About Face by Donna Leon

Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti series is always a good "go to" for me when I want to be immersed into Venice. About Face doesn't disappoint as Donna Leon always adds into her mysteries a little insight into the running of, more often than not, corrupt government officials. This one has Brunetti wondering why a beautiful woman would damage her face with so much plastic surgery that she has no facial expressions, why so much pollution surrounds them and where garbage and chemical waste is being disposed. Throw in a couple of murders and Brunetti is kept busy in the streets of Venice.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

Tracy Rees captures the essence of 1850s life both in Cornwall and London in her novel Florence Grace.

Florrie Buckley, an orphan, lives with her grandmother on the moors of Cornwall but at fifteen she finds she is related to a wealthy London family - the Graces. She struggles to learn the rules of a strange world - a world full of family secrets.

My thoughts: I was a little disappointed that most of the story took place in London and not Cornwall, but nevertheless, it was an intriguing story of family mystery. At over 500 pages, it was a little longer than I usually like to read and I felt could have been condensed considerably. While being wealthy in 1850s England may have seemed enticing, with all the rules and regulations, the numerous adornments and undergarments and restrictions for women, it was probably a very frustrating existence for a young lady, especially one used to running shoeless on the moors of Cornwall. The London air alone would have been stifling for someone used to the sea breezes and open fields around Truro.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Image result for goldfinch donna tarttThe Goldfinch, at over 700 pages, is not a light summer read but is well worth picking up - I'll be adding it to my favorite book list this year.

Thirteen year old Theo Decker, living in New York with his mother, has a life changing event when an explosion occurs in an art museum. What ensues are events with an abusive father, and finding a temporary home with friends. A thread woven through the story is of a famous painting, The Goldfinch.

Donna Tartt writes an enticing story with added suspense. Her characters, thrown together by fate, take Theo from childhood to an adult, moving in and out of his life.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, knows a thing or two about racial prejudice. He grew up in South Africa where apartheid had separated groups of people, causing diversity and making it easier for the government to control the country. Even after independence from the British Empire racial prejudices continued.
But Trevor had a deeply religious mother who refused to live her life according to the laws of the country. Trevor was born when she persuaded a Swiss friend to father her child, found a secretarial job when black South African women could only work as a domestic and bought her own house in a white neighborhood. Trevor was then categorized as colored, evidence of a crime committed between a white man and black woman.
Trevor never felt he fitted into any group and spent most of his childhood on his own getting into trouble, making money wherever he could (illegally copying CDs and selling them). Violence, poverty and abuse threatened the mother/son team, but their love for each other got them through the tough times.

Apart from his humor, the book is a mixture of sadness for those who were persecuted and the idiocracy of apartheid. Chinese people were classified as black, Japanese were classified as white (the government wanted to establish good relations with the Japanese).

Friday, April 19, 2019

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots by Jessica Soffer

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots was one of the books I picked up at the Friends of the Library book sale.
The book cover starts off with This is a story about accepting the people we love.  But I found the book to be mostly about a troubled teenager, Lorca, trying to obtain the love of her mother through recipes for her mother's ideal meal which she made in the hope of obtaining that love. The title of the book comes from an Arabic saying Tomorrow, apricots may bloom. Lorca turns her frustrations to self harm/cutting and although Jessica Soffer tries to let the reader into the mind of a child who harms themselves this way, I found it very difficult to understand why someone would turn to this. Drugs and alcohol which many people turn to provides a temporary numbing of pain, rather than inflicting more.

According to information on a number of web sites, self harm is a mechanism for lack of coping skills and is grouped with eating disorders, and post traumatic distress disorder.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Our House by Louise Candlish

Reading Our House was a bit like going home, not because of the story, but because of the location around my London home towns of Penge and Crystal Palace. Note: There is a replica of the Crystal Palace exhibition building in Dallas near where I live now.

Fi seems to be a magnet for whatever can go wrong does! Her husband's infidelity is just the beginning of his betrayal when, for the sake of their two boys, she suggests a bird's nest agreement  and he takes advantage of the situation. The boys would stay in the home and the parent, during their custody days, would stay at the home with them. But Bram's infidelity is just the tip of the iceberg when he hides from his wife his numerous drinking and driving arrests and a driving ban which he sometimes chooses to ignore. Throw in a blackmailer or two, Fi's poor choice in a boyfriend and the possibility of losing the house she has fought so hard to keep, and you have a fast moving, page turning, novel.