The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

I am currently reading Kristin Harmel’s newest book and I was reminded that I had not finished this novel from last year! This is a wonderful WWII story about a young American woman who marries a French man and stays in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Their lives are intertwined with the Jewish family next door, and Ruby must decide if she will risk all she has in order to do what she knows is right for those she cares about.

Highly recommended! Thank you for my copy to review through Net Galley!

Description

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.

When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing (The Aviator’s Wife, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Girls in the Picture – to name a few). She makes historical characters come alive and her attention to historical is spot on. She also never makes anachronistic slips in her writing. Mistress of the Ritz is based on the real person, Blanche Auzello, and her husband Claude who was the manager of the Ritz during the German occupation of Paris in WWII. Blanche is a vibrant and unforgettable character, as daring as she is brave, even as she hides a secret. Apparently, there is not too much known of the personal lives of the real Claude and Blanche, but Ms. Benjamin’s writing never feels campy or too incredible. Instead she does what she does best — slowly peeling away the layers of character so that by the end of the book we feel we know the person intimately.

This was an interesting and great read.

Thank you for my e-copy to review via Net Galley!

Description

A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II—while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hôtel Ritz in Paris—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

“A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests”—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.

Advance praise for Mistress of the Ritz

“No one writes of the complexities of women’s lives and loves like Melanie Benjamin. In Mistress of the Ritz, Benjamin brings wartime Paris brilliantly to life. . . . Intense, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring!”—Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

Me again — having read this, I wondered about the real Paris Ritz as I’ve never seen it. Here’s a link to google images of it – oo la la!

Some google images of the Ritz in Paris

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

This spring I listened to the audiobook of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane via Audible and I loved it! I knew Katherine Howe from her awesome YA novel, Conversion, so I knew I’d enjoy another novel by her. Physick Book is the first in a series about women “witches” and their descendants. It was quite intriguing and well-narrated. And I was thrilled that I could immediately pair it with The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, since that continued the story. That said, I don’t think you need to read one in order to read the other — “Daughters” stands alone as a novel in its own right.

Here’s the overview:

Description

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

Now I’m the type of person who LOVES reading about history and Salem and Katherine Howe has a wealth of information and knowledge, and is a gifted writer, so this was a win for me. I actually had the chance to briefly meet Ms. Howe at BEA several years ago and she was quite gracious and lovely and humble.

Thank you, Net Galley and Henry Holt and Co., for my review copy!

Happy June 25th Pub Day to Ms. Howe!

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Description

Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

Oh – I loved this beautifully written book about a young woman tracing the secret past of her family. I particularly liked the story of the past, with young, headstrong Naoko who is in love with an American. As always, redemption is a favorite theme of mine and this story was compelling, memorable, and touching.

Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

I absolutely loved this story about a “blue” woman who works as a librarian on horseback in the mountainous “hollers” of Kentucky. Cussy Mary’s vocation is to bring literacy to the people of her area and the fact that she is shunned for being “blue” won’t stop her. I loved the voice of this character and found the storyline intriguing and interesting. I did wonder why the author chose the blue storyline and then discovered that it is based in fact — there was a succession of Kentuckians who shared a recessive gene that led to unoxygenated blood, which makes the skin appear blue. Interesting!

Highly recommended! Thanks for my e-copy to review!

Description

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is.  Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own  traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. 

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however,  she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble.  If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler. 

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage,  fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Description (via NG)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The perfect Mother’s Day gift! The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

“Not only a brilliant historical tale, but a love song to all the ways our friendships carry us through the worst of times.”Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often,many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Praise for Lost Roses

“A charming and vividly rendered historical novel . . . Based on true events, this prequel to Lilac Girls transports.”People

“Inspired by true events, just like its predecessor, and just as well-researched, Lost Roses is a remarkable story and another testament to female strength. This sweeping epic will thrill and delight fans of Lilac Girls and readers of historical fiction alike.”—PopSugar

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I was thrilled to receive this title from Net Galley, as I had loved reading Lilac Girls, for which this book is a prequel. To be honest, it took me a bit to get into it. I did better reading at a stretch because each chapter is the point of view of one of the three main characters, and it kept switching, so if I waited too long, I couldn’t remember what had been happening! However, I settled in and read it over the three day weekend (it is almost 450 pages).

I loved the characters in this book, especially tragic but resilient Sophya. While I feel familiar with the story of the Romanovs, I did not know how much Russian aristocracy (“white Russians”) suffered during WWI. Parts of this story were hard to read and disturbing (due to violence) but the overall historical facts made for really interesting reading (such as American society’s attempt to help displaced Russian women). I loved that this story feeds into the next generation story of Lilac Girls and has Caroline as a young girl. I read that the next prequel will focus on Eliza’s grandmother in the Civil War (and again – the Ferridays are real women!).

If you enjoy WWI stories and stories of strong women, pick up Lost Roses today!

Thank you again for my review e-copy!

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa

I was thrilled to be offered this title via Net Galley since I had read and reviewed The German Girl a while back in 2016 (see review here: https://drbethnolan.com/2016/11/03/the-german-girl-by-armando-lucas-correa/). It was yet another story that was based in fact and unforgettable. Again, the ability of Jewish families to get passage to other countries where they will be safe is featured, and it is so disturbing to see how not many countries were helpful. I felt for the main character in this novel, Amanda, as she had so much loss. And yet, her story is most probably not too different from many women of that time and place.

Recommended for those who enjoy reading of WWII and of normal people who are forced to face extraordinary things. This novel has been called “heartbreaking” – and it is.

Thank you for my review copy.

Description

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.