Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson
“Years ago my mom told me life sometimes leads you along a strange crooked path, but in the end it will always take you where you’re supposed to be, she replied.”
Irma Joubert’s latest tale once again draws the reader to the complex life of South Africa during WWII. Readers of her previous novel, Child of the River, will find many of the same characters in this book along with many new ones. The story begins in Italy in 1939 and revolves around Marco Romanelli and the Rozenfeld family and their plight to escape the Nazis.
After four years of hiding the Rozenfelds in isolation in a mountainous cave and nearly starving, Marco and the Rozenfelds are captured by the Nazis and shipped to a camp. The depth of their tragedies during these difficult times is heart breaking. After the war finally ends and Marco returns home to his village, a sick and broken young man, his family sends him to South Africa to stay with his brother and recover from the war.
Marco meets Dr. Lettie Louw, who begins to nurse him back to health. Lettie and Marco marry and begin their family, only to have another of life’s difficulties change their course. Read this detailed account of Marco and Lettie’s life as they encounter complexities one can only imagine.
Once again Joubert gives the reader a good look at religious and ethnic prejudices during this very difficult time in history. The author delivers a deep, detailed book for readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in WWII and South Africa.
This copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: October 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Copy from The Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson
“It’s hard to be a woman, child.”
Irma Joubert once again weaves an intricate tale of life in South Africa amid the political turmoil of the apartheid and WWII. Pérsomi Pieterse, a thin young girl raised on a dirt poor sharecropper’s farm in the veld of South Africa, values her education and her big brother, Gerbrand, above all else.
Pérsomi’s story unfolds as her beloved brother goes off to war, and she struggles to be able to continue her education. Before departing, Gerbrand discloses the fact that Pérsomi’s father is not really the father she has been raised to believe, much to her relief. This fact makes a fundamental difference in the outcome of Pérsomi’s education and life choices.
Follow Pérsomi’s journey to adulthood and her success as an attorney as she strives to lead a life that does not always conform to the beliefs of those around her. A woman of strong values and character, Pérsomi sets a fine example as a strong female role model during a time period when women were dominated by men.
The historical detail adds depth to the novel, and the incorporation of the politics of the apartheid offers an interesting intensity. The religious and ethnic prejudices encountered in this book are reminiscent of our own history in the United States at different times.
A very intriguing novel! This is not a light read, but the book is excellent for readers of historic fiction and anyone with a specific interest in South Africa.
This copy was received from Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: May 2016
ARC copy from Bloggingforbooks.com and Waterbrook Press
For those who love a novel filled with romance, food, and history, Together at the Table is the book for you. Author Hilary Manton Lodge has woven a touching story that meanders around the kitchens of modern restaurants in Portland, Washington, as well taking the reader back in time to war torn France during World War II.
Juliette D’Alisa has undergone a rocky time after breaking up with Neil McLaren, a doctor from Memphis while dealing with her mother’s recent death and starting up a new restaurant with her brother Nico. In spite of her ups and downs, she has started a new relationship with sous-chef, Adrian when Neil unexpectedly turns up in Portland.
As Juliette works to gain her equilibrium, she reads her grandmother’s letters from France trying to find answers to missing pieces of the family puzzle. The story takes the reader from Portland to France trying to solve the family mystery of a missing person.
Filled with delicious recipes and descriptions of food that will make the reader salivate, this novel ends leaving one with a sense of peace and fulfillment and a desire to get to the kitchen and try out those recipes! Enjoyable read with a very interesting historical narrative intertwined with Juliette’s story!
This ARC copy was received from Waterbrook Press and Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Click here to download Chapter 1!
Hilary Manton Lodge website
Publication Date: November 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ARC Copy from Thomas Nelson and The Fiction Guild
The Girl from the Train is a very compelling story that begins in April, 1944 when 6 year old Gretl Schmidt drops from a transport train headed to Auschwitz. She is found by Jakob Kowlaski, a young Polish rebel, whose life will become intrinsically linked to hers over the course of the next fifteen years. Gretl’s family connections put her in a precarious position and force Jakob to lie about her background in order to keep her safe. Eventually Jakob must consider his family first and surrender Gretl to a German orphanage.
Gretl learns from an early age to contend with loss, suffering, and prejudice in order to survive. Jakob does the best he can given the situation under which he is operating to take care of the girl. He reads about a program in Germany where the orphans are sent to South Africa to be adopted. He preps Gretl with documents and stories that make it possible for Gretl to become part of the program.
The novel continues Gretl’s life story once she gets to South Africa in alternating chapters with Jakob’s story as he lives through the turmoil following the war and the onslaught of communism in Poland. The historical detail is very interesting, covering different aspects of World War II than many traditional historical novels. The religious and ethnic prejudices encountered in this novel are very vivid.
The personalities of the characters are complex and appealing. Gretl develops over the course of the novel from a scared, but strong six year old to an engaging, resilient young woman. Jakob, almost 14 years older than Gretl, gains maturity and insight into politics and the broader world as he survives the war, communism, and a loss of his home country.
This book has depth and emotion. The suffering, prejudice, and secrets keep the reader engaged. A fascinating book with great perspective! Outstanding novel for readers of historical fiction!
This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild challenge in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Library Copy from St. Charles City County Public Library
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
The Nightingale is a well written novel in a beautiful, spellbinding voice. The fact that the narrator is unknown adds to the intrigue of the overall storyline. The book tells the story of two French sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, and their struggles to save lives and survive during WWII. The author made me feel as though I endured their suffering, fear, and heartache. A wonderful book with considerable depth and passion! Very emotional!
Read this compelling story to find out what ultimately happens to Vianne and Isabelle. Each sister has her own story and together they have a shared story of family and life.
The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Kristin Hannah Website
Excerpt from the book
Series: Hidden Masterpiece, Book 1
Publication Date: July 2014
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson
“. . . the stark coldness of the shaved head, showing a young beauty that had been shorn of her crown and glory . . . the tattooed numbers, shouting out from the left forearm that cradled a violin.”
A beautiful and amazing story set in two very different time periods! The novel runs two storylines parallel with a thread that ties both stories together. A compelling painting of a stunningly beautiful girl touches the lives of those who see it in the desolate WWII prison camp of Auschwitz; as well, the painting also affects the present day lives of Sera James in New York and William Hanover in California.
Sera and William are both searching for the work of art depicting the mysterious bald headed girl with a violin. Their reasons are quite different, but both have a tremendous interest in locating the painting. The story of their search for the artwork unfolds the story of Adele Von Bron, the daughter of a high-ranking member of the Third Reich and extraordinary violinist, and Vladimir Nicolai, a cellist and the son of a poor shopkeeper.
The novel is a wonderful mix of mystery, history, romance, and faith. The historical detail is extremely interesting. The thread of faith shared by Adele and Sera will touch the reader’s heart. Each woman’s faith is tested, but ultimately they find their strength. I felt compelled to do a little research on my own after reading this book. Terrific job, Kristy Cambron!
Read this fascinating book to find out what ultimately happens to Adele and Vladimir and Sera and William. Each couple has their own story and each couple had choices to make to get to their ending.
This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Publication Date: 27 Dec 2011
Publisher: Plume, Penguin Group, USA
ARC Copy from goodreads.com
Cover provided by penguin.com
Set amid the tropical Pacific island of Bora-Bora, the story of Anne Calloway, 21 year-old Army nurse, and Westry Green, a handsome and slightly mysterious soldier, unfolds through the pages of this novel set during the early years of WWII. They meet near the beginning of the story and a friendship evolves through their shared use of a tiny, thatched roof bungalow with abundant yellow hibiscus blooming in its doorway. Their small hut is tucked away from the beach on the edge of the jungle, allowing them a great deal of privacy. As their friendship progresses to love, their time together on the island is shortened due to obligations to their service, the added anxiety of Anne’s engagement to an old friend back home, and their unintentional witnessing of a murder near their bungalow.
The story is a complex one with added tension between Anne and her best friend, Kitty, with whom she enlisted. Kitty is the opposite of Anne, vivacious and outgoing, always attracting male attention. The characters in the novel are complex and thought-provoking. The descriptions of the island are lush and vivid. The mystery lies in the plot surrounding the murder, and a thread of the furtive secret flows through the story. The the enduring love she feels for Westry spans 70 years with a satisfying ending to both the mystery and the heartache.