When the temperature dips into the single digits, I look for a book cuddle up with and escape. This was just what I needed. The book is written in a series of letters between Evie Elliott and Tom Hardy during World War I (plus letters from their friends and family) Truly, it is the letters between these two that I had to read. The two are childhood friends along with Evie’s older brother, Will. It is 1914 in England, and Tom and Will enlist in the to fight to win the war. The letters begin as friends sharing their different experiences of the war. Evie is at home living a privileged life while Tom is in the trenches facing the horrors of war. They share their dreams, hopes, love of literature, and so much more.
The war was expected to be over by Christmas 1914, but this is not to be. The correspondences continue through tragedy and unimaginable events. They dance around their feelings, and will it be too late for them? Evie makes a decision that puts her in harm’s way and in the thick of all the danger. Will the war, influenza, typhoid, or the love of another come between them?
I fell in love with the characters and found myself begging for the two of them to speak their mind honestly…but that is not the decorum of the day. All prim and proper….the tragedy of it all. You must read to discover what comes to be.
This is my first encounter with Stewart Hoag (Hoagy) and his sidekick….an anchovy-eating Bassett Hound named Lulu. And I loved it! This is number 9 in the series! Number 9! This means I have 8 more books that I need to read in order to complete the mysterious adventures Hoagy and Lulu. Here is a rundown of who Hoagy is:
In the past, Hoagy wrote one best-seller and was the talk of the town…he had it all. However, this was followed by an extreme case of writer’s block and a second novel has not come to be. He lost his fancy home, the fancy life, and his marriage to movie star Merilee. He now lives in small apartment in New York with Lulu and spends his time ghostwriting. His new career has provided him not only with the opportunity to write fascinating and interesting stories, but to use another of his skills…amateur sleuthing. He natural ability to deduce and reason helps him solve some fairly scary and dangerous cases…all that start with a new ghostwriting assignment. Who knew writing could be so dangerous?
The Girl with the Kaleidoscope Eyes reunites Hoagy with Reggie….a beautiful, yet wounded poet who he spent three passionate and wild years with. Reggie’s father is a famous author who has become a recluse (think a bit J.D. Salinger). No one has heard from him in years….not since his wife committed suicide. That is no one has heard from him until now — twenty years later. Reggie and her sister Monette (who have not spoken in 20 years) receive letters from their father….or someone pretending to be their father. He wants something from his daughters. The public is intrigued.
Enter Stewart Hoagy. He has been hired to author the story of the reunion of Richard Aintree (recluse author) and his two daughters. Hoagy flies out to Monette’s home in LA and discovers that Monette’s empire is crumbling away after a Hollywood scandal. Hoagy gets thrown into the scandal when bodies begin to pileup in Monette’s LA mansion. Hoagy immediately tunes into the detective part of himself and starts to uncover the truth.
Fun, witty, fast-paced….I recommend this for an rainy weekend read…make sure you have some coffee and pastries to keep you fueled through the read.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is a cleverly written novel of intellect and historically interest. It is written in a Charles Dickens-style…rich in details and flourishing vocabulary. The story is about a woman, Cora, whose husband has died. In some circumstances, this would make for a sad story, but Cora’s husband was not kind and loving. Cora, who is a woman not of her time, is interested in science and nature and travel. She now has her chance to focus on her interests without her horrible husband around. She has an unusual child, a boy of 11 , and a companion whose name is Martha. The three of them embark on a journey which leads them to the coast of Essex where a rumor of a serpent resides. A young man is found dead, and people believe it to be this serpent, but Cora who does not believe in myths and fantasy is determined to discover the truth behind the murder. Think of her as Scully (X-files)….the truth is out there, and she does not believe in the supernatural.
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.
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.
Hallie Ephron writes stories that command your attention until the end. I picked this up and read until I had to put it down…I had to find out what happened to Janey. Lis was a 7 year-old little girl when she was playing in the yard with her 4 year-old sister, Janey. Lis sees a little dog and chases it into the woods, and her sister is left alone and ultimately disappears. Lis is now in her 40s with her own daughter, and she has been living with her mother for quite a while. Janey’s disappearances has effected them for decades.
Here is the creepy part, Miss Sorrel, Lis and Janey’s mother, is a doll maker. She makes porcelain dolls in the likeness of a child who keeps the daughter….made with that child’s hair. One day, a woman appears to Miss Sorrel with an old doll that looks just like Janey…..could this has been the doll that Janey had when she disappeared? If it is the doll, where is Janey and what happened to her?
The story unfolds quickly, and Miss Sorrel and Lis realize they are in danger as they get closer to discovering what has happened to Janey.
Quick, easy read. A few flaws with the characters, but nothing that gets in the way with the story. Well-worth the read!
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?