Category Archives: historical

A piece of unknown history

I read this so quickly!  I love history and I love a good story, and Janet Beard did not disappoint me with this story.   It takes place the 19402 during WWII.  In Tennessee, the government created a secret hidden town called Oak Ridge.  This was part of the Manhattan Project to create the Atomic Bomb, and these are fictional stories about the people who worked and lived there.   The story tells how June, a local country girl, comes to work the mysterious knobs and dials of these machines that she is sworn to secrecy to not tell a soul anything about.  There is her roommate Cici who is not who she seems.  Sam Cantor is an angry, young Jewish physicist who is there for reasons that frighten him.  And Joe Brewer, one of my favorite characters.   He comes to work in construction here to make money to support his young family.

Most are working without knowing that they are creating a devastating weapon, and reality does not set it until the bombing of Hiroshima.

While I was reading, I would stop and research the town of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project.  It was a somber experience to put it mildly.

I highly recommend.

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500 pages never read so fast

I have read several books by Beatriz Williams, and I find her style quite agreeable.  She writes historical-mystery-romance stories all jumbled up in one story with many twists and turns.

This story follows two strong women who are related but separated by time and an ocean.   Violet Grant’s story takes place in 1912 in Germany right before the start of WWI.  She is a recent college graduate from a wealthy family. Her family wants her to marry and be a proper lady, but she has other ambitions.   Violet is an intelligent woman and would prefer to study physics than love and motherhood.  She moves to Europe in order to study and research.   She meets and falls in love with her professor that is 30 years older than her.  Yet this relationship is not what she initially believed it to be, and Dr. Walter Grant turns out not to be Prince Charming….enter a mysterious British Army Captain, and an American woman and her 19 year-old son…..Violet’s life gets turned upside down.  She is wanted for murder and then she disappears….

In 1964, Vivian Schuyler (Violet’s great-niece and aspiring writer) receives her Aunt Violet’s suitcase on her doorstep in New York City.   This is the first time that Vivian is hearing about her aunt.   Vivian has a nose for a good story, and she has sniffed this one out.  She is determined to get to the bottom of Violet’s story and recruits a few others to help her play detective: Tibby, editor from the Metropolitan Magazine where she works, her Aunt Julie, and Doctor Paul.  Doctor Paul???  Who is he?   He seems like the perfect guy….too good to be true….I will let you read and discover just who is he.  Frankly, I am not sure what my feelings are for him even after finishing the book.  I have to think on it some more.

They are marketing the book as a beach read….I can see that, but I read it wrapped in a blanket while it was in the 20s outside and the wind was about 12 mph….and yes it is almost May.   Winter has over stayed its welcome in Pennsylvania this year.  This book helped me forget about the cold for a short time.

 

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1920’s in NYC

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I have a love affair with historical fiction, and I am always changing my favorite time period….I am fickle that way.  Currently, I am in love with the 1920’s.  I love Libba Bray’s series The Diviners which mixes historical fiction with mystery and fantasy.   Very cool.   And now I am devouring Beatriz Williams books.  This one is called The Wicked City.    It centers around an apartment in Greenwich Village that links two wonderfully tragic yet flawed women.

In the 1920s, it is Geneva Kelly who has run away from a horrible home life and has worked to reinvent herself.  She is a snarky flapper who loves to enjoy all life is offering her in NYC….until she is forced to go back home to see her dying mother and confront her toxic stepfather….Duke Kelly.   She gets herself wrapped up with Prohibition agents, bootleggers, sexy college boys, and murder.  Who can she trust?  Why can’t she shake her past and start over?

In 1998, Ella Glbert has discovered that her husband of four years….has been cheating on her.   She caught him with the other woman in a compromised position….she leaves immediately and rents the same apartment that Ginger AKA Geneva lived in decades before.   The other tenants in the building are friendly and welcoming.   In fact, there is one in particular that Ella is drawn to….Hector.  Ella starts to notice strange things about the building….a woman’s voice screaming in the night behind a brick wall….jazz music playing in the basement….she begins to discover what happened there years ago…..

Such a good read!  I could not put it down and was sad when it was over.   But wait…there is good news!   This is the first in a trilogy!!!   Can’t wait!!

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History and Mystery coming soon!

This is Historical Fiction novel that reads as more of a mystery than history.  It is by Beatriz Williams, and apparently she has written previous novels about some of the characters in this story.  I have not read any of them which could be why I am confused by the epilogue.   It was recommended that I read A Certain Age by her before this one….well…I did not do that.

I will tell you that I did enjoy this book…the beginning was a bit slow, but it eventually picked up and I read the last 200 pages in one afternoon.  It is about a strong woman named Virginia who is an ambulance driver in WWI in France, and it is there that she meets mysterious and handsome Captain Simon Fitzwilliams.  The two fall in love and have a passionate affair.  Yet they both have secrets from their past….some serious secrets that create tragedy to their eventual marriage and birth of their daughter.

Five years later, and they are living in America.  Virginia and her daughter are in NYC while Simon is in Florida running several businesses.   The pair become estranged for 3 years when Simon is  suddenly killed in a fire.  Virginia travel south to deal with the details of the death and the businesses she will inherit.  Enter Samuel and Clara Fitzwilliams…Simon’s siblings.  They welcome her with open arms, and yet Virginia senses something is off….something is not quite right.  The more she questions, the more dangerous her situation becomes.

 

 

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Love, espionage, friendship, and war

Two brave women’s lives are entwined after World War II: 1947.  Charlie St. Clair’s mother drags her over to England to discreetly take care of her “Little Problem”, but Charlie has other plans.   She breaks free to discover what happened to her cousin…her best friend Rose.  She has been told that Rose died during the war, but Charlie does not believe this to be the truth and is determined to rescue her cousin.  She has one lead: a woman name Evelyn Gardiner.

She finds Evelyn.  Eve is a mean, bitter drunk who threatens to shoot Charlie once she arrives, but as soon as Eve utters the words Le Lethe, she puts the gun down.  She agrees to help her.  Together with Finn Kilgore (who is quite the handsome mystery and their driver) they embark on an adventure that reaches back to WWI when Eve was part of The Alice Network and worked as a female spy.  Back when betrayal broke apart the group and ruined lives forever.

Both Eve, Charlie, and Finn are looking for things….a cousin, a place, a man, revenge….what they discover along the way is more than they could have imagined.  The characters in this book are so wonderful and I would follow their stories anywhere.  Yet it is not the places that they took me that I loved…it was them.  Their strength, their love, their devotion, their decision not to follow social norms of the time and be their own people.  And in the end, they discover friendship and love….maybe the answers they uncover were not what they quite thought they would be, but in life and adventure it is never has it is planned.

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England and WWII

  This will be my third book that focuses on a different perspective of World War II.  The Women in the Castle was set in Germany and focused on the people who lived there and did not support Hitler.  The Baker’s Secret took place in a small French village that becomes occupied by the Nazis.  This book is set n London, England and tells the story of an American journalist , Ruby Sutton, who is set to London in order to report on the events of WWII.

Ruby Sutton lives alone, grew up in an orphanage, and has no connection to anyone in America, so when she is asked to go to London to report on the war, she does not hesitate.  Her passion is writing and telling a story…true stories.  She makes the journey by boat and is greeted by Captain Bennett and quickly meets all the staff at the newspaper where she will be working.  They are welcoming and friendly, and she quickly finds a place for herself in London.

She spends her days working at the paper  and her nights in a shelter enduring the bombings known as the Blitz.  She could have easily requested to be sent back home, but she is determined to tell the stories of the people whose reality has become the bombings.  She begins to feel an attraction towards Bennett, but he is so mysterious and seems to disappear for long periods of time and returns sullen and secretive.  The war has taken a toll on him, and yet Ruby is determined to love him.  Is he able to love her back?

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Inspiring story of human spirit in the face of evil

  Stephen P.Kiernan has written a story of World War II that takes place in a small Normandy village.  The people in this village live a simple life until the Nazis occupy their village and change their lives forever.

The story focused on Emmanuelle who has worked hard as an apprentice to the town baker known as Uncle Ezra.  The two become as close as family and are known for their expertly made bread.   After the occupation, Kommandant is passing by their shop and smells the fresh baking bread.   He immediately announces that he will provide Emma will enough for rations to make 12 loaves for himself and his men.  Emma does this, but she also has a secret.  A secret plan that will help keep her village alive.

Kiernan has created remarkable characters set in a place and time in our history that is unbelievable…unforgivable…tragic.  He has written how people have this amazing strength to overcome and cope with the unthinkable horrors around them…and in the end  – survive.

(On a side note….I need a break from WWII literature….I need something light-hearted.  I need a potato chip book.)

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