My most favorite novels are those which are set in the 1930’s and 1940’s before, during and right after the Second World War. I enjoy reading everything about that era in history and so was drawn to read “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn. This novel is a fictional account of an actual British spy ring in Paris during the Great War, and the consequences that occurred both during and after the Second Great War.
Charlie St. Clair is a young girl who is unmarried, pregnant, and hounded by her parents to “take care of the situation”. Instead, Charlie takes off by herself with only one note that may lead her to her beloved cousin Rose, who is presumed dead. Charlie thinks that Rose was involved with the Resistance in France during WW II and is not ready to give her up for dead. She finds Eve Gardiner, a mouthy, drunken old woman, who may have information about Rose. Eve Gardiner was recruited to be a spy in France during the First Great War. She and two other women gave valuable information to the British about German troop movements and artillery. Something happened to her during that time, something that made her live a life of drunkenness and seclusion. When these two women join forces to find the truth, this is the story.
I thought this novel was very well researched and written and could not put the book down. The intrigue, suffering and patriotism of the female espionage agents during both wars were painfully shown. I applaud the author for bringing to light the escapades of our brave women who may have turned the tide of the war.
“These Healing Hills” by Ann H. Gabhart was a delightful book. Not only was this book set in the Appalachian Mountains, but it also described what it was like coming home after fighting in WW II.
Francine Howard waited patiently for her supposed fiancé to return from the war, however, his sister told Franny that he had found an English miss and married her. Francine decided to seek a fresh start in the Frontier Nursing Service as a midwife. She was accepted and after training, was sent to the rural Kentucky hills to help the mountain women with birthing and give medical assistance when needed by others.. Some are hesitant to seek help from outsiders, but most welcome the availability of having medical help when it’s needed.
Ben Locke has returned to his Kentucky mountain home from serving overseas. The outlook is bleak from the standpoint of finding a job that is not in the mines. He served as a medic in the army and is considering becoming a doctor. But how can he walk away from his family who needs his help just to survive. Times are hard and the people are harder. Moonshine is the most valuable product to come out of the mountains besides coal. This makes the hills and dales dangerous to the people who live there and to the outsiders.
Is it possible that Francine and Ben can find common ground in these hills? This story is compelling to read and thrilling in another sense. I fell in love with the mountains and the people who live there from reading this book. I know that is a romanticized idea of reality, but I am comfortable living in that fantasy and would recommend Ms. Gabhart’s work.
The Frontier Nursing Service was a real program founded by Mary Breckinridge, a member of an influential Kentucky family who lost two young children. She was determined to improve the health of the women in rural Kentucky.
I received a complimentary print copy from Revell as a member of the Blog Tour Team.
“Kitty’s War” by Barbara Whitaker begins on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia when Katherine spies something in the water. Upon investigation, she finds a very handsome man in a raft, obviously having been at sea before something terrible happened to him. A naïve young girl, she finds herself thinking of him constantly as the months pass. Against her family’s wishes, Katherine (Kitty) volunteers for the WACs for duty overseas as a nurse. She runs into the man again and this time he is an airman on duty in England, but he doesn’t recognize her as his savior. Kitty’s friend, Madge is a forward flirt and captures Ted Kruger’s attention. When Ted realizes who Kitty is, they begin a romance. However, Ted is shot down over Germany and languishes in a prison camp until his escape. Can he and Kitty get back together? Is Madge the one Ted wants?
I thought this novel was well thought out and I enjoyed the descriptive way that Ms. Whitaker moves the story along. Every time I wanted to put the book down to get something else done, I just couldn’t do it. I love war-time romances set during WW II, and I loved this book.
I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com and was under no obligation to post a review.
Every time I read a book, I learn something. Non-fiction books, of course, are true stories (for the most part). Historical fiction books tell a story, but the characters, plots, historical references may be changed due to the writer’s fancy. “Grounded Hearts” by Jeanne M. Dickson is a fictional story of a downed RAF pilot in Ireland. I was not aware that Ireland was a neutral country in the Second World War. I was also not aware that downed pilots were interned in a camp for the duration of the war. Anyone harboring these fugitives was sent to prison. I found this a fascinating aspect of the war that I did not know.
This is the story of Dutch Whitney whose bomber crashed in County Clare in a marsh. He and his crew parachuted out of the doomed plane, but Dutch doesn’t know the whereabouts or status of his crew. He happens upon a house where a midwife lives. Nan O’Neill takes pity on him and tends to his wounds. Since he cannot manage on his own, she decides to hide him from the Local Defense Force (LDF). The story continues as Nan and Dutch are involved in keeping themselves free.
Ms. Dickson’s writing served to keep me interested until the last page and aggravated that I could not sit and read this book in one sitting. I thought this novel touched on something I had not read or heard of and this provided a most interesting read for me. This book was a wonderful debut for the author and I look forward to many more novels in whose pages I can lose myself.
“Catching the Wind” by Melanie Dobson is a very fascinating novel. Dietmar Roth and Brigitte Berthold were childhood friends back in Germany in 1940. Dietmar was three years older than Brigitte at the age of 13. Of course Germany was under Nazi rule at this time and everyone was tense and scared. One afternoon, the children were together playing when they heard screams and ran home. Just in time they hid as they saw the Gestapo taking away their parents. Dietmar ran to the window in his home and saw his mother mouth the words “RUN!”. He grabbed Brigitte and they ran for all they were worth, finally making their way to Belgium. Although Belgium was also under German rule, they were able to escape to England where they were parted and sent to various locations. They were thought to be British children and were being evacuated to escape the Blitz. They were never reunited.
Seventy years later, Quenby Vaughn is doing an article on English aristocratic families who collaborated with the Germans during the war. Some provided safe houses for German soldiers who were infiltrating the public and sending messages over wireless to Germany apprising them of troop locations and air fields. Sabotage was part of their plan. They thought Germany would win the war and they wanted to be ready to accept German rule as a friend to the invaders.
Lucas Hough, a lawyer representing Daniel Knight, seeks Quenby and requests that she meet his employer for a job. Quenby is not interested until Daniel, alias Dietmar Roth, tells her of his past life. He is searching for Brigitte, not knowing if she is dead or alive, but to reassure himself that he finds out about her before he passes away.
Little did Quenby know that along with searching for Brigitte, she will uncover information that her investigation into treason among the higher set also includes Brigitte’s past life. I was SO interested in the chapters dealing with the involvement of so many of British aristocratic members and their savagery. The years gone by have made searching for Brigitte a definitely difficult task, but I was pulled into the story by the intriguing manipulation of the story line by Ms. Dobson. What a great read! My only criticism is that the ending was not as satisfying as I’d hoped. In fact, I was a little disappointed because I did not think it altogether fit the story…a little too contrived, I think. However, I would highly recommend this book because my observations may be very different from another reader.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Adolph Hitler have long been discussed and disputed since the end of the war. “The Taster”, published by Kensington Publishers is a novel based on a woman who was among Hitler’s “tasters”. These women were chosen for their fidelity to the Fuhrer and were required to taste every bit of food and drink prior to its presentation to Hitler. Hitler was scared to death that he would be poisoned and thought that everyone was out to kill him. At the Wolf’s Lair and at The Berghof, Hitler’s places of residence, the tasters followed him and were required to stay within the compound at his service.
Magda Ritter, is the name of the young woman in this novel who is chosen by the Reichstag to be one of Hitler’s tasters. She is schooled in the different forms of poison so she can recognize them by taste and smell. If she falters, then she will be the one poisoned. Magda meets a member of the SS assigned to Hitler’s guard and they become involved. He is also involved in a group planning to assassinate Hitler. This story is so interesting and menacing at the same time. All the while reading this book, I was constantly feeling terrified for all those involved.
I thought that this was a great read and very rooted in historical fact. The author’s list of background books and articles made the book seem real. Based on a true character, who would not believe it?
The book will be published in early 2018 by Kensington Books.
“Soar Like Eagles” is book three in the Promise for Tomorrow series by Terri Wangard. First of all, this book is definitely written in my favorite genre. I love historical novels set in World War II. This book was different because it was written about the Red Cross Doughnut Girls who went to England to staff canteens and to pass out doughnuts and coffee to our boys serving overseas.
Carol Doucet is the young woman in this story who desires to do her part in the war. She is a society reporter for her hometown paper, but wants to do something worthwhile. She and friends join the Red Cross in order to be of service, and for some girls, to meet young men. Carol longs to follow the troops into the battle areas, but has no idea of the hardships and sorrows, danger and heartbreak that it brings. She is serving in a canteen in the states when she meets a young airman, Chet. They feel an instant rapport and both are saddened that they may never meet again. However, Carol is assigned to one of the airbases in England that Chet flies out of. She doesn’t want to marry him because of the danger they both fact and she doesn’t want that fear. After the invasion of France, Carol follows the battles to help the morale of the soldiers by bringing a little cheer in the form of doughnuts and coffee to them. It reminds them of home.
I was totally engaged in the story of this novel. I thought the descriptive writing about the battle areas and the horrors of war were very convincing. The chances that Carol and Chet will meet again seem remote, however, nothing is impossible. I know readers will enjoy this novel, not only because of the historical significance, but also because of the characters, which you will love.