(Review) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 2014.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 384.
Source: Little Free Library in Fayetteville, Texas.
Rating: Recommend. Excellent.

Amazon

Summary:
The Invention of Wings is a story based on Sarah Grimke. She was a abolitionist during the early 19th century.
After reading several of the websites with information on Sarah Grimke, The Invention of Wings shows correct information in regards to her family of origin, the handmaid she taught to read and was then whipped, the Episcopal upbringing and conversion to Quaker, the letter that was published without permission and thrust her into the abolitionist movement, public speaking tour, and the close relationship with her sister who worked alongside her in the movement.
The book is correct in many factors. The story of the character Hetty “Handful” Grimke, who was a slave and handmaid to Sarah, this story is fictionalized. In the Author’s Note, Kidd wrote she tried to be true to the character of Sarah Grimke. I believe she did.

Links for more information on Sarah Grimke:
Britannica
PBS
Women History-blog

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Sarah Grimke 1792-1873

My Thoughts:
I love this story!
•Two women from vastly different worlds, even thought they lived in the same home. Both were restrained by the culture and standards of being a female in the 19th century; and by the belief of a people group that human bondage was justified.
I cannot imagine the courage it took for Sarah Grimke to leave her home in South Carolina and relocate to Philadelphia. It took grit to change religions. It took grit to speak out publicly against slavery. It took grit to remain single and without a husband in a male dominated culture.
I enjoyed reading about Sarah Grimke, and this is the first reason I love this story.
•The voice of Handful shifted away from the refinement of the plantation owners, and even away from Sarah. Handful is a strong character. She is a person who is intelligent and wanting so much to speak for herself. She has spirit. And I loved her all the more for it!
•Sarah’s mother is the real nemesis. The father is the plantation owner, but it is the mother who is in charge of the household servants. She is despicable. I feel that all the hate she has for her life and situation is taken out on the slaves. She looks for creative ways to punish.
•Kidd breathed life into both Sarah and Handful. I easily pictured their lives in my mind. This is the main reason the book was difficult to lay down. I became immersed in the story from the first page.

 

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(Review) The German Girl by Lucas Correa

The German Girl

Publisher and Publication Date: Washington Square Press. August 8, 2017.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Holocaust. World War II.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.

Amazon

Summary:
Two young girls. Two time periods. Two lives who have been shattered by tragedy. Both girls are related. Their lives will intersect.
Hannah lives in Berlin in 1939. She is the only child of a wealthy Jewish family.
Anna lives in New York City post 9/11. The year is 2014. She is the only child of a widow. Anna’s father died before she was born.

My Thoughts:
•A clincher of an opening line. The narrator, Hannah, is talking about killing her parents. It is obvious from the start of the story she is a person under deep stress and anguish. Berlin is a powder keg. The fuse has been lit by Nazi Germany. The Jews are the target of the fuse.
•The setting of both stories, and the emotion of the stories, is the biggest aspect of the book. Both girls are pushed from a young age to become adults. They are heavily burdened by their circumstances. They are at times alone in their minds. They scramble for an answer to their plight.  The German Girl is heart-wrenching at times, because I felt strongly about the outcome of the two young girls.
•Both of the mothers of the two girls are lost in their own “place.” Anna’s mother is lost in the past, and in her grief and depression. Hannah’s mother is lost in the refinement and wealth of her material possessions.
•Anna is a compassionate person. She often looks away from her own situation and is focused on others-their sadness is a heavy weight in her heart. It is so “different” to read about a person who is not selfish and self-entitled. I read about and see so many people focused on their selves that Anna stands in stark contrast.
The German Girl gave me a riveting view of living under the grim conditions as a Jew in Berlin in 1939.
•I’d heard about the ship carrying Jews headed to Cuba. This is the first (fictional) story I’ve read about this history.
•Several photographs are in the back of the book of passengers on the ship, St. Louis. In addition, eight pages of signatures from the passengers.

(Review) Charlotte Gray, French Trilogy #3 by Sebastian Faulks

Charlotte Gray

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage. 2000.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 401.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Occupied France, and the Resistance.

Amazon

Have you seen the film Birdsong? It’s available on PBS Masterpiece subscription through Prime Video. The same author wrote Charlotte Gray and Birdsong.

 

Summary:
Charlotte Gray is a young Scottish woman who moves to London during the early years of World War II. She rents a room from a young woman named Daisy. The first night in her new lodging, Daisy invites her to a literary party. At the party, she meets Peter Gregory, an RAF pilot. One evening together and it’s an instant connection. Peter goes on a mission to France and does not return to England. Charlotte makes a bold move by joining and training with G-Section as a courier. Her goal is to find and bring Peter home.

My Thoughts:
•Charlotte is not a dimensional character. She is stoic. I pictured her throughout the book with a straight face. She has events that bring her to the point of showing emotion, but continues to emit a quiet strength. I know little about her life before coming to London. Her father was in World War I and has a difficult time adjusting to life post war. There is a painful memory of this period that is spoken about in brief later in the book. I felt this last aspect was thrown in as a glimpse of a dark childhood. This event is not explored in depth. It is a few crumbs thrown in the story that is a bit of a surprise to me. Charlotte comes across as a straight forward, conservative type gal. Later in the story and while in France, she takes a dip that I didn’t expect. I wondered if the author was exploring a bit with Charlotte’s character by adding these two events? By using these two elements in Charlotte’s character, she became more human and imperfect.
•Peter Gregory is a man’s man. He is not interested in serious relationships. His focus is flying and the war effort. Meeting Charlotte and the relationship that “just” happens, takes him by surprise. Love at first site or there afterwards is not something I believe in personally. Lust yes. Love no. Love take time to grow and deepen. However, Charlotte Gray is a fictional story.
•I’ve read several stories that are about the Resistance and SOE work. Charlotte’s duties are not complex. And her work is limited. The focus of this story is less on the work and more about the relationship with Peter Gregory.

 

(Review) I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights And Dilemmas Of The Reading Life by Anne Bogel

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Publisher and Publication Date: Baker Books. September 4, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 160.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Baker books, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very Good.
Audience: People who love to read.

Amazon

Anne Bogel is the originator of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the podcast What Should I Read Next? Also, the author of Reading People.

Baker Books is a Christian publishing group. I’d Rather Be Reading is not a Christian book.

Summary:
This book is about the topic of reading. From the type of literary carnivores we are, to how to organize the books on the shelf, to what our favorite books say about us.
Not all readers plan out their next book to read, but some readers do plan and organize. Bogel tries to give a broad brushstroke to all types of readers.
I’d Rather Be Reading is an entertaining and satisfying look at the activity of reading.

My Thoughts:
Bogel begins by listing different types of book readers. For example, people who are English teachers but have never read a classic work beyond college. People who dislike certain series books or people who binge read certain series books. There are all types of readers and Bogel shares their perspectives.
One of my favorite chapters in the book is how reading is a solitary activity, but when one book reader asks another book reader, “hey, what is your favorite book?” This question breaks the ice to become a perfect conversation starter. The book lovers I know recite a long list of books and might give lists for individual genres.
The focus of the book is page 11 through 145. This is a small digestible book for a bibliophile. It does not dig deep in the topic. The chapters are short-an intro and 21 chapters in all.
Bogel inserts a variety of books in the chapters. For example, from chapter eleven: “The Readers I Have Been.” She refers to Madeliene L’Engle who wrote A Wrinkle in Time. This book “won” her over at a young age. She also enjoyed reading books by L’Engle at older stages in life. For example, The “Irrational Season.”
I enjoyed reading I’d Rather Be Reading.
It is a great gift for a reader. It is a great book for a book discussion group. It is a great book to read on a cold afternoon with a cup of your choice.

(Review) The Lost Queen, Book One by Signe Pike

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Publisher and Publication Date: Touchstone. September 4, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 544.
Source: I received a complimentary advanced reader paperback copy from Touchstone, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who love Scottish history. Readers who love medieval history.

Amazon

Website for Signe Pike

Link for news about a television show based on this book: Deadline news.

signe pike

Her memoir Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, was a “Best of 2010” Pick from Kirkus Reviews and received glowing reviews from Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Adventure Magazine, and renowned spiritual leader Marianne Williamson among others. Pike has been featured on WPR’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” in an episode on enchantment along with Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, and A.S. Byatt.

She was born in Ithaca, New York and currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Summary:
AD 550. Land of the Britons. Strathclyde, Scotland.
Languoreth, and her twin brother, Lailoken, are the children of a king. Their mother died. Their nursemaid is Crowan. Languoreth is strong-willed and independent. She wants to become a Wisdom Healer like her mother had been. Instead, she will someday marry a man of her father’s choosing and become a queen. Lailoken has a gift of reading signs from the gods. Languoreth can read Lailoken’s thoughts. They are handsome children. They have a close bond. When the story begins, Languoreth, and Lailoken are children destined for greatness.
The timeline of the story is AD 550 to 572.

My Thoughts:
Medieval history is one of my favorite periods to read about. I love historical fiction. These two combined loves led me to read this book.
I have several thoughts:
The Lost Queen has been compared to the Outlander series and Camelot. I disagree. Outlander is a different period in Scottish history and time travel is involved. Camelot is a larger than life story. It’s a famous story. A story with a bit of magic, and a lot of romance. I’ve not read The Mists of Avalon series (so I cannot compare.)
•Languoreth is the narrator or voice in the story. Her brother is a strong character, but it is her thoughts and words that is prominent.
•For most of The Lost Queen, it felt more like a young adult novel. Until the last quarter of the story, the main characters are young people who are headstrong and valiant. Plus, the story lacked a maturity (probably because of the ages of the twins.)
•Languoreth is in love with a young man whom she’s spent only a brief time with. For me, chemistry and lust is something you feel immediate. Love takes time to grow. Also, love over the years takes dips and turns, it develops roots, and it may or may not look anything like the love that was there at the start.
The Lost Queen showed the practice and culture of people living in this time period. I enjoyed reading about the medicinal arts and mysticism.
•Despite how Languoreth feels, and despite her strong-willed nature, she obeys her father in marrying another man. I love characters who do the right thing despite how they “feel.” Feelings often lead people astray. Of course, I’m in my mid 50’s and I’m reflecting back on those feelings that led me astray. Doing the right thing requires courage, humility, and sacrifice. This gave Languoreth a maturity in the story. This was a sign she had blossomed and developed.
•The romantic element is strong but brief. Brief in that most of the romance is in her mind and heart. She remembered their stolen moments and wonders how he truly feels? She wondered if it was something of lasting value?
The Lost Queen covers at least half the life of Languoreth. I can’t imagine what a second novel will reveal? Possibly it will be the story of Lailoken. He is the basis for Myrddin or Merlin.
•I was not swept away in The Lost Queen; however, I was entertained. I recommend this novel and I’m enticed enough to read its sequel.