I love Pam Jenoff’s books – all of them. “The Kommandant’s Girl” is the latest that I have read. Ms. Jenoff’s portrayal of the Jewish situation in World War II is fantastic. She makes their plight known and their struggles to stay alive during this harrowing time so palpable that reading the story not-stop to the end is a necessity to the avid reader.
I this novel, Emma Bau has been married to a young Jewish man for only a few months when the Nazis invade Poland. Jacob is very political and decides that he must be a part of the resistance movement, which means leaving Emma alone. She finds her way to her parents in the Jewish ghetto in Krakow and stays with them for a time. Friends of Jacob find her, get her out of the ghetto, give her false papers and take her to Jacob’s aunt, a Gentile. She is there with a little Jewish toddler whose mother has been killed and whose father has been taken away by the Gestapo. Hopefully, they will be safe there during the occupation.
Krysia, Jacob’s aunt, is also a part of the resistance, but also a known socialite in Krakow. She had many links to the resistance along with seemingly accepting the Nazi regime. At a party where she is presenting her “niece and her little brother” to the Gentile community, Emma (now known as Anna) is noticed by the Kommandant. He asks her to work for him as his personal assistant. She has to say yes. The resistance leaders can now use her to ferret information from the Kommandant’s office and relay this to the resistance. In becoming closer to the Georg, she must make a personal decision whether or not to compromise her marriage vows for the greater good of the movement.
Ms. Jenoff’s writing is addicting. I was unable to put this book down and after I finished it I could not stop thinking about the story. I was unable to help myself, but I found that I was sympathetic to the Kommandant and to Anna in her dilemma. I wonder how I would have handled the situation were I in their shoes. I felt that the horrors of war and the circumstances surrounding the occupiers and those fighting against them were almost understandable. The Kommandant had to follow orders and Anna was bound to honor her husband and parents in finding out information that would save her people. I read this book with mixed emotions which have really made me think about those times and the people who lived them.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you are interested in stories about World War II. I purchased a Kindle copy of this book from Amazon.com and was under no obligation to post a review.
In “The Seekers” by Wanda E. Brunstetter, we see how the Amish lifestyle can provide good experiences for those in the community. Heidi Troyer has been married for a few years to Lyle. They have no children, much to her dismay and Lyle is away quite a lot for his business. Heidi tries to fill her days with housework and gardening, but you can only clean so much and hoe the weeds until the garden is well tended. Then what is she to do? Heidi is a wonderful cook and she hears from her aunt who has started a quilting class for any and all who sign up. She decides to start a cooking class and advertises in the community. Not thinking she will have too many takers, she is quite surprised when she finds that five people are interested. Charlene is engaged, but can’t boil water. Kendra is pregnant and alone because her parents ordered her out of their house. Loretta is a widow with two children and wants her kids to grow up in a simple lifestyle. Eli is a widower who is very lonely after the death of his wife and always hungry because he can’t cook a lick. Ron is a Vietnam Vet whose reasons for being on the Troyer farm are nefarious and we see how being with these others transforms him. This is an interesting group of people and we find that all have shortcomings, but under the tutelage of Heidi, not only do they learn to cook, but they find acceptance and solutions to the problems that beset them.
I always enjoy books by Mrs. Brunstetter. She is a favorite voice of Amish novels and stories. I received a print copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
One of my favorite authors, Suzanne Woods Fisher has written another good book, “The Newcomer”. We are witness to the immigration of German Amish to the Pennsylvania frontier in 1737. This group of people is ready to begin a new life in America and experience the bounty of the land. Anna König and Bairn Bauer have begun a romance and Anna is hoping that Bairn is ready to give up the sea and settle down to homestead.
Problems arise from the beginning as the church’s members cannot agree on anything. Land grants are in dispute and Bairn’s father Jacob, the Amish bishop, is stubborn in his leadership. There are also problems among the church members. Bairn is given a chance to be a first mate for “one last” ocean trip and accepts the offer, which makes Anna wonder if he is ever coming back and if she should wait for him. Along comes another immigrant from another ship, the newcomer, Henrik Newman. The newcomer radiates joy and happiness with every event. He sees the work of God in every hardship. He is interested in Anna and in Bairn’s absence convinces her that he is the one she should marry.
The whole series of events that make up this book serve to give a perspective on the immigrants who settled America before the Revolution. There are many reasons why a people would leave their home country and travel an extreme distance to find a new life. I thought that Ms. Fisher did a wonderful job of portraying the hardships and troubles that these people faced.
I received a print copy of this book from Revell in return for my honest review.
“Titus Returns” by Amy Lillard tells the story of an Amish man who is sentenced to prison for five years. He was the driver in an accident that killed two friends and sentenced another to life in a wheelchair. Although he has not told the true story, he paid the price for his bad decisions. After his release, he returns to his home of Wells Landing. His time in prison was hard and he now has to decide whether or not he will remain Amish or leave the community.
He finds life on the outside is not easy to adjust to, even with his family. His former girlfriend has married another but is convinced that Titus should run away with her and live “Englisch”. She thinks that she is still in love with him.
Abby King, on the other hand, doesn’t want anything to do with Titus because it was her twin brother who was one of the friends who was killed. Life for her family has been very hard since the accident. Her parents are suffering from deep depression and the farm is showing signs of neglect. Abby it trying to do it all and bring the farm back to the way it was, but she is struggling. Titus decides that it is his duty to help her and the King family recover. The story continues with Titus being pulled in many different directions. He must decide what his future holds and make decisions for everyone’s good and find forgiveness for himself.
I enjoyed the book and I think that Ms. Lillard is a gifted writer. I am anticipating reading the next book in the Wells Landing series.
I received a print advance reader’s copy of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.
I really enjoyed reading “An Independent Woman”, written by Anna Jacobs. The story is set in 1918 right after the end of the Great War in England. Ernest Fleming is a slum lord, gambler, womanizer and all around pitiful person. It begins with Serena Fleming, his daughter, caring for her dying mother. Serena knows that the end is near and before she dies, her mother reveals a secret that she has been harboring – the fact that Ernest Fleming is not Serena’s real father.
Serena has spent her life cowering under the hateful and vicious actions of her father and she is overwhelmed with gratitude that she is not descended from this madman. Serena’s brother Frank has been listed as missing in action and presumed dead and she has no reason to stay under Ernest’s thumb. She is to come into her inheritance from her aunt when she turns thirty which is in a few weeks. She plans her escape from the Fleming house carefully so that Ernest has no clue that she is planning on leaving and fighting for her inheritance.
Meanwhile, Marcus Graye has come home from the war wounded in body and spirit. The Hall has been his family’s home for years, but the dissolute actions of his uncle and cousins have left the manor house in more ruin than grandeur. He and his family have been conned and cheated by Ernest Fleming too and the family lawyer is attempting to find out the true condition of the estate. Marcus and Serena are thrown together by the viciousness of Ernest Fleming and they determine to outsmart him and his hooligans.
I thought that this book was a wonderful read. First of all I always enjoy books written about this time period and I especially enjoy novels about Britain and its lords and ladies. Women’s suffrage is becoming a rallying cry for women at this time and this plays a role in what transpires as the story continues. I highly recommend this book.
I received a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.
“Death Among Rubies” by R. J. Koreto is set in Edwardian England and spotlights Frances Ffolkes, the sister of a Marquis. She is very active in civic organizations and a suffragette, which dismays her brother tremendously. She is very independent and lives in a hotel for ladies instead of the family home. Her dutiful lady’s maid, June Mallow is her constant companion and fellow sleuth.
In this novel, the second featuring Lady Frances Ffolkes, we are invited to Kestrel Eyrie, a fabled estate belonging to one of Frances’ friends. This friend, Gwen, is a sweet, unassuming young woman who is a special friend to Tommie. These three women are active in a woman’s suffragette movement which is frowned upon by most of the men of this era. This special relationship between Gwen and Tommie is not looked upon with favor and the two are the recipients of some threatening notes and confrontations. In working to solve the mystery of who is behind these threats, while they are staying at Gwen’s ancestral home with her family, Gwen’s father is stabbed with a jeweled dagger. There is much intrigue and speculation among the important government figures who are at the house and also among the staff and other visitors.
Lady Frances, along with Mallow, her maid, insinuate themselves in many situations which are dangerous, not to mention unladylike. Lady Frances’ brother is a member of Parliament and is not happy with his sister’s nose if everyone else’s business.
I enjoyed this book as much as I did the first in the series, “Death on the Sapphire”. I most enjoy reading about the people and historical times of this series. I received a print copy of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.
“An Extraordinary Union” by Alyssa Cole was a very intriguing book about people of color working with the Union as spies in the South. Ellie Burns, a former slave, has the ability to remember with astonishing accuracy things, conversations, written words, most everything. Her talents are greatly prized by the Union. She is sent back into slavery in the South as a spy to garner any information that she can to help the North. Malcolm McCall is a detective with Pinkerton who is sent to infiltrate a Southern stronghold. Elle and Malcolm are very much attracted to each other although their liaison, since one is black and the other white, is much frowned upon in that day and age. As the two of them work together, they discover a plot that would be disastrous to the North. They have to work together to make sure that this plot is uncovered and destroyed.
I found this book to be very interesting and well-written. I enjoy novels about this time period and thought that this one in particular was intriguing because of the forbidden love of the two main characters and how they handled the situation.
I received an advance reader copy of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.