Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham MooreThe Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 368
Published by Random House on August 16th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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A thrilling novel based on actual events, about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America—from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?
The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?
In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

My Review:

This is one of those stories that if it weren’t mostly true, would absolutely shred the willing suspension of disbelief. But it is mostly true. And it is fascinating.

The story is about the birth of the modern technological world, as midwifed by three extremely different men. Men without whom the world as we know it would be much the poorer – and also still in the dark.

In the late 1880s and early 1890s the United States (and the rest of the world) was on the edge of a technological revolution. And that revolution was in the midst of a great battle, admittedly one being fought in law offices and courtrooms, and not with rifles and bayonets.

But this story still begins with a death. Young (very young) attorney Paul Cravath witnesses a man’s electrocution on the streets of New York. It was an accident, but it certainly sets the stage for what happens next.

And for the rest of Cravath’s life.

Electricity as a public utility was in its infancy. In fact, the country was still deciding whether Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC) would be the way to go. The conflict was heightened, exacerbated and pushed to greater levels of mania by the antipathy between the leaders of the competing schemes.

The great inventor, Thomas Alva Edison was a proponent of direct current. George Westinghouse was the leading proponent for alternating current, and was building generators to push his movement. As history knows, AC won the “War of Currents”, but no one knew that at the time.

Edison and Westinghouse were locked in epic, if metaphorical, battle. But the battleground wasn’t actually the current. Edison took the fight in a direction he was certain he could win. Westinghouse was also selling light bulbs. And Edison seemed to have an iron-clad claim, and the legal and monetary resources to back it, that Westinghouse was infringing on his patent.

Enter young Cravath. He was too young and too inexperienced to have a clue just what he was letting himself in for. So when Westinghouse offered him the job of lead attorney on his case against Edison, he jumped for it. It was the opportunity of a lifetime – if he could pull it off. And Cravath was just young enough at the beginning of the case to be certain that he could. That his career would end in ignominy if he failed wasn’t something he saw at first – and when he does it nearly flattens him.

So the young lawyer placed himself in the middle of the battle between two titans. And into the fray he introduced a third, Nikola Tesla. For years, Westinghouse and Edison fought over the provenance of the lightbulb, the question of which current would power the country, and the life and fate of Tesla, who was a bit too lost in his dreamworld of inventing to know just how much of a catspaw he really was.

In the end, Cravath doesn’t exactly win. But he doesn’t actually lose, either. And the way he gets there, and what he experiences, keep the reader glued to the page until the very end.

And there’s light.

Escape Rating A-: This is a story that rewards sticking with it. It takes a while to build its momentum, partly because Cravath doesn’t start out to be a particularly interesting character. We see things from his point of view, but he isn’t half as interesting as the three giants at the center of the controversy, Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla.

At the halfway point, the story lights up with a flash, and as Cravath finally figures out what he’s doing. From that point on, it’s hard to stop.

Part of what makes the story interesting is the way that Cravath changes. He’s pretty naive at the beginning. By the end he’s a cynical mess, betrayed on all sides. But he’s also finally an adult. And still operating way above his head.

Another point that fascinates is the different perspectives on the three inventors, Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla. They are alike, and they are all different. Tesla is a pure dreamer; he doesn’t need to see his dreams built, he gets satisfaction from the invention just by thinking it up. Westinghouse is the engineer who gets his satisfaction from building the device itself. Edison, the figure who towers so tall over American invention, does not come off nearly as well as the others. Edison wants to win at all costs, and is definitely a proponent of the ends justifying the means.

In order to beat him, Cravath has to become the same. He nearly destroys his life to win. Watching him step up to the line and just barely pulling back from the brink makes the story, and his life.

That most of what occurs in the book also happened in real life just makes the story that much more fascinating. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

Review: Beauty and Attention by Liz Rosenberg + Giveaway

Review: Beauty and Attention by Liz Rosenberg + GiveawayBeauty and Attention: A Novel by Liz Rosenberg
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, literary fiction
Pages: 211
Published by Lake Union Publishing on October 25th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
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The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit.
For misfit Libby Archer, social expectations for young women in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s don’t work. Her father has died, leaving her without parents, and her well-meaning friends are pressuring her to do what any sensible single girl must do: marry a passionate, persistent hometown suitor with a promising future. Yet Libby boldly defies conventional wisdom and plans to delay marriage—to anyone—by departing for her uncle’s Belfast estate. In Ireland, Libby seeks not only the comfort of family but also greater opportunities than seem possible during the stifling McCarthy era at home.
Across the Atlantic, Libby finds common ground with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus, then puts her trust in a sophisticated older woman who seems to be everything she hopes to become. Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets, as well as sudden wealth and unexpected love, Libby’s journey toward independence takes turns she never could have predicted—and calls on courage and strength she never knew she had.

My Review:

This is a difficult book to review. I finished it last night, and now that I’m done, I’m not exactly sure what happened. And that feels weird.

The story takes place in the mid-1950s, at a time when women were supposed to marry young and become model wives and mothers. While a tiny number of careers were open to women – teacher, nurse and secretary – the ambition was to become a stay-at-home wife and mother.

I’m so glad I wasn’t an adult then, because, well, that is so not anything I would have wanted.

And it isn’t what Libby Archer wants, either. Not that she is actually sure what she does want in her early 20s, but that just makes her normal in our 21st century eyes. It does give her contemporaries a great deal of pause, however.

The man who loves her is just certain that she should marry him, right now. And he places way too much pressure on someone who finally has a chance to spread her wings, so she runs.

Libby’s alcoholic father has just died. And after years of tip-toeing around his cold withdrawals and drunken rages, after years of suppressing her every desire and ambition to care for him in his decline (as good daughters were supposed to do) she wants to discover who she really is before she becomes a part of somebody else.

So she goes to Ireland to visit her aunt and uncle and cousin. These are people that she remembers fondly from her childhood, before her mother died and her father started drinking himself to death. Uncle Sacks is her mother’s brother, and it was easy for her dad to drop the connection.

Libby picks it back up again. She finds a second home with her aunt and uncle, and a fast friend in her dying cousin, ironically named Lazarus. Whatever is killing Lazarus, which is real but ill-defined, he will not be rising from the dead.

She finds strength as part of their rather eclectic household, but she is still drifting inside herself. When her uncle dies, the household scatters to the winds, and Libby finds herself drifting again, but this time, drifting into all the bad decisions that her friends back home warned her about.

It is only at the side of her cousin’s deathbed that she begins to pick up the reins of her own life. Where those reins lead her is left to the reader’s imagination at the end of the book.

Escape Rating B-: I liked the first part of the story very much. Libby is a bit lost and uncertain, and so she should be. She’s free of her father’s domination, and feels both exhilarated and guilty at the same time. After years of being forced to deal with her father’s “illness” she wants the freedom to explore herself, and everyone else’s very forceful good intentions just feel like an attempt to put her in a different cage.

Only because they are.

Libby’s life in her uncle’s house, and the story of her deep friendship with Lazarus, are bittersweet. It is a safe harbor that is doomed to end, but still surprises Libby when that end comes.

One of the fascinating things about Libby is that she is so much of a blank slate. She is bright, naive and innocent and has a desperate need to please. Several men fall in love with her, not necessarily for who she actually is, but what they think they can make of her.

And she is easily manipulated and led. Which is what happens. Someone she thinks is a friend seems to maneuver her into the terrible marriage that everyone back home feared for her. But one of the faults of the book as that we don’t see it happen. One page, she’s just meeting the future Mr. Awful for the first time. The next page, she’s married and obviously miserable. That missing link took the heart out of the story for this reader.

In the end, the reader is left with the impression that Libby has finally seized her life in her own hands, but there are fits and starts even to that. Her independence is not assured, merely seems to be in the offing. And the equivocation of the ending left this reader a bit bereft.

I hope that Libby finally rescued herself. But I wish I knew.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of Beauty and Attention to one lucky US/Canada commenter.

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Review: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty + Giveaway

Review: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty + GiveawayThe Girl Who Fought Napoleon: A Novel of the Russian Empire by Linda Lafferty
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 430
Published by Lake Union Publishing on September 20th 2016
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In a sweeping story straight out of Russian history, Tsar Alexander I and a courageous girl named Nadezhda Durova join forces against Napoleon.
It’s 1803, and an adolescent Nadya is determined not to follow in her overbearing Ukrainian mother’s footsteps. She’s a horsewoman, not a housewife. When Tsar Paul is assassinated in St. Petersburg and a reluctant and naive Alexander is crowned emperor, Nadya runs away from home and joins the Russian cavalry in the war against Napoleon. Disguised as a boy and riding her spirited stallion, Alcides, Nadya rises in the ranks, even as her father begs the tsar to find his daughter and send her home.
Both Nadya and Alexander defy expectations—she as a heroic fighter and he as a spiritual seeker—while the battles of Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Smolensk rage on.
In a captivating tale that brings Durova’s memoirs to life, from bloody battlefields to glittering palaces, two rebels dare to break free of their expected roles and discover themselves in the process.

My Review:

Nadezhda Durova in officer's uniform
Nadezhda Durova in officer’s uniform

I was astonished at the end to discover that The Girl Who Fought Napoleon is a fictionalized version of a true story. Nadezhda Durova was a real woman, who seems to have done pretty much what is claimed of her in this incredible novel.

And also, just as she is in this story, Nadya is an unreliable narrator of her own life, editing out the parts that detract from her tale of bravery, battle and disguise.

As a child, Nadya was very much the daughter of her father’s regiment in the Russian army. Her mother “followed the drum” as her father served in one posting after another, and blamed Nadya’s father for seducing her away from her wealthy family, and blamed the infant Nadya for everything that was wrong with her life. When she threw the infant Nadya out of a moving carriage, it was the last straw.

Nadya ended up being raised by the soldiers, having an aide-de-camp assigned as her nursemaid and guardian. For years, she had the freedom of a young boy, riding where she wanted and living in camp away from her mother’s influence and abuse, cossetted and coddled by the soldiers who saw her as a mascot.

It all changed when her father retired. Unfortunately not the bad parts, just the good parts. In a town, Nadya found herself suddenly restricted to the closeted life of a young girl, completely under her mother’s abusive control.

At 17, she rebelled, wearing boy’s clothes and “stealing” her own horse, she escaped her mother’s plans for her marriage and ran away to join the Russian Army, disguised as a boy. In the cavalry she found the place where she belonged, even if she wasn’t quite strong enough to keep her lance steady.

She tended to let circumstances overwhelm her orders, and sometimes found herself committing an insanely brave act for the most unlikely reasons. It brought her to the attention of her commanders and eventually the Tsar. And somehow, in her tumultuous nine years as a soldier, she rose from cadet to Captain, and managed to see action on all the major Russian battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars. She became a legend.

In counterpoint to Nadya’s story, we see those same years and that same war from the perspective of Tsar Alexander I, the leader who defeated Napoleon the first time around and sent him to Elba.

In Nadya’s story, we see the view of the war from, if not quite the bottom, very near it. She saw war not as glorious, but as the hell it truly is. She never sees herself as a hero. Sometimes, she barely sees herself as a survivor. Alexander, on the other hand, shows the view from the top in all its vainglory and willingness to sacrifice his army to feed his ego or vanquish his demons. It is a tortured picture, but never a pretty one in spite of its beautiful trappings.

In the end, both the soldier and the statesman pass from history into very, very different legends.

Escape Rating B: Discovering that this is mostly a true story changed some of my opinions about it. At points, it almost seemed too fantastic to hang together as fiction. But historical events don’t have to make sense, they just have to have happened. And that’s the case here.

Throughout my reading, I found myself questioning the choice of presenting Tsar Alexander’s and Nadya’s stories in alternating chapters. While the stories do cover the same period of time, their intersection is minimal, and because of this they don’t hang together well. Just as the reader gets really into Nadya’s story, the focus switches back to Alexander. And vice versa. I think this would have felt more cohesive, at least for this reader, if the story had stuck with one or the other, preferably Nadya. Her story is as bizarre as it is fascinating, and also mostly unknown outside of her native country.

We know that women have disguised themselves and fought in every war, or nearly so. Prior to the most recent era, when documentation wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous and medical exams weren’t required, it was relatively easy to pretend to be a male, at least long enough to enlist. The trick was in maintaining the illusion in the close quarters of company life. Many of the disguises failed when the female soldier was wounded, and treatment required baring more of the person than normal life at the time required.

Because this is fiction, I would have been very interested in seeing more of Nadya’s inner life than is described in these pages. As this story is based on her published diary, we see a lot of “war is hell” and also a significant amount of fear of discovery. But not much else.

The truly fascinating thing about Nadya’s story is just how unreliable a narrator she was. She did all the things she said she did, but she also left out a great deal of her early life. Notably the seven years when she married and had a child. She abandoned her family to become a soldier. In the end, she comes back not because she misses anyone or anything of her old life, but because she is sick to death of war and killing. She has seen and experienced too much. As do so many soldiers.

In the end, it was Nadya’s story that grabbed me. I wish I’d had a bit more of it.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of The Girl Who Fought Napoleon to one lucky US/Canada winner.

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Review: Autumn in Oxford by Alex Rosenberg + Giveaway

Review: Autumn in Oxford by Alex Rosenberg + GiveawayAutumn in Oxford: A Novel by Alex Rosenberg
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, suspense, thriller
Pages: 426
Published by Lake Union Publishing on August 30th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Goodreads

After being blacklisted for having communist sympathies as a student twenty years before, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Tom Wrought escapes America’s Cold War climate to teach at Oxford. There, he falls in love with Liz Spencer, a beautiful married woman. When Liz’s husband is pushed in front of a train in the London Underground, Tom is immediately arrested for the murder. Scotland Yard is convinced it has its man, as he had means, motive, and opportunity.
Certain of his innocence, Liz hires a young solicitor, Alice Silverstone, to defend Tom. But they discover that Tom’s former secret work as an American spy made him a number of powerful enemies. Russian intelligence, British counterespionage, and even the FBI all may have reason to frame him. If Liz and Alice can find out who is behind the murder, they stand a chance of freeing Tom, but doing so puts all their lives at risk.

My Review:

Autumn in Oxford is a conspiracy theorist’s dream of a novel, set during the period of one of the craziest conspiracies of all – the Red Scare of the late 1950s. It’s even presided over, in a rather perverse way, by the queen conspiracy theorist of all, J. Edgar Hoover.

And once the story gets going, it doesn’t let the reader go.

At first, this seems like a simple thriller. A man is pushed into an oncoming train by a mysterious assailant and is instantly killed. But of course it isn’t nearly that simple.

Tom Wrought witnesses Trevor Spencer being shoved off that train platform and knows that he is in deep, deep trouble. Tom was on his way to a rendezvous with Spencer’s wife. He knows that he has the obvious motive for killing the man, and that witnesses will eventually place him at the scene, especially since the real killer bears at least a passing resemblance to himself.

So Wrought pretty much does everything an innocent man shouldn’t do. He runs out of the station, chasing the real killer. He leaves the scene of the crime in a way that draws attention to himself. He stops to phone his lover to tell her that she should go home to meet the cops, who will inevitably come to give her the “bad” news.

He knows that he didn’t do it. So who did? And why?

And that’s where the fascinating part of this book begins. Not with the recitation of the beginning of Tom’s affair with Liz Spencer, but with what happens next. And with what happened in Tom’s life long before this little mess. All the events and chances that dropped Tom into the soup at this point in time, and why they have all come to a head now and not earlier. Or later.

And all the things that people in high places will do to get Tom both locked up and discredited. The collateral damage of a little murder isn’t even the worst act they commit. But watching Tom, Liz and their attorney unravel the conspiracy, piece by ugly piece, is one hell of a story.

Escape Rating A-: In the end, I absolutely loved this book. But it needs an editor. The affair between Tom and Liz is the least interesting part of the entire story. It’s only purpose is to provide the means and method for what follows. And frankly, the reader knows enough about their affair when Tom witnesses the murder that we don’t need the complete rehash. It’s what happens after the murder, and the story that Tom tells of his life before Oxford, that give this story its punch.

And what a punch it is. The Red Scare of the 1950s in the U.S. makes for very bizarre reading from the 21st century. Except where it resonates all too clearly.

Tom flirted with the Communist Party while he was in college. A lot of people did in the 1930s. Tom was also extremely anti-segregation long before integration became remotely accepted. And an awful lot of very important people in the 1930s believed that any challenge to the American status quo, including calls for integration, were automatically part of a Communist plot.

All of this makes Tom an obvious target for the powers-that-be. He’s had the fortune, or misfortune, to be in the right place at the right time to be a witness to history, and to be able to expose the lies and deceits of powerful people. J. Edgar Hoover, in particular, was not known for being merciful to those he perceived as his enemies – whether they saw themselves as his enemy or not.

The story of Tom’s life before the murder is what draws the reader in. And also what provides the motive for the murder. The ways in which Tom ran afoul of people in high places, and the underhanded means they used to strike at him without regard for either collateral damage or irreparable harm to U.S. relations with their post-war allies piles conspiracy on top of conspiracy into an unstable but absolutely compelling house of dirty little cards.

The thrill-a-minute chase at the end provides the perfect conclusion.

Reviewer’s note: I was born in 1957, two years before this book begins. While I obviously don’t remember the historical events that form the backdrop of this story, they were still very much “present” and part of the cultural zeitgeist as I was growing up. It is really weird to see times that I lived through portrayed as “historical” fiction.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I’m very pleased to say that I am giving away a copy of Autumn in Oxford to one lucky US or Canadian commenter. I really enjoyed this book, so I am very happy to be able to share it!

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Review: The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

Review: The Girl in the Castle by Santa MontefioreThe Girl in the Castle (Deverill Chronicles #1) by Santa Montefiore
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: family saga, historical fiction
Series: Deverill Chronicles #1
Pages: 576
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on September 27th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.
Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo-Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched—even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds.
Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all.
When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested—and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened.
A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

My Review:

The Girl in the Castle is one of those big, sprawling historical family sagas that they don’t seem to make anymore. But maybe they should.

This is a big story. While it focuses on one family, the backdrop is large and tumultuous. The story takes place in the first quarter of the 20th century, and gives readers a glimpse into the causes and the effects of the Irish Rebellion. Our main point of view character is Kitty Deverill, a child of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, who feels herself to be Irish to the bone, and English not at all. But through Kitty we see the world around her, her family who both love and hate Ireland, and see that the world they ruled is fading away, while being drenched in blood.

But the Deverills aren’t the only people in their little town Ballynakelly. Kitty’s best friend is Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the Deverill cook. Bridie is the only girl Kitty’s age, and the two become fast friends in spite of their differences in class and religion. The only thing that divides them is that they both love Jack O’Leary, and neither can have him.

As the veterinarian’s son, Jack is too far above Bridie and her poverty stricken family for his family to consider her a good match for him. And aristocratic Kitty is seen as an English interloper, whether she fights for the revolution or not. Her family will see Jack as too far below them.

It’s ironic that a marriage between Jack and Kitty would end an old family curse. A curse that Kitty, gifted with the proverbial second sight, knows is all too real.

But as the Irish Free State rises, the three young friends are forced to scatter. Kitty to glittering salons in London, Bridie to a new life in America, while Jack languishes in prison as a convicted rebel.

It’s only when they all return to Castle Deverill and Ballynakelly that there is hope of healing all the wounds – if they don’t break out afresh over old and new wrongs.

Escape Rating B: This is a book that rewards sticking with it. It’s a big story and it takes a lot of pages to set up the real action. The story begins when Kitty, Bridie and Jack are all children, and it takes a while for them to reach adult age with adult sensibilities.

Not that child-Kitty isn’t very observant, but she lacks adult context that the reader has to piece together. Once the trio are all grown up, both the personal stories and the battlefields heat up.

There is a lot of tragedy in this story, with happiness being difficult for the characters to grasp, even at the end. World War I casts its shadow over much of Kitty’s teenage years, and British treatment of the Irish both during the war and immediately afterwards is as tragic as the loss of life on the battlefields and in the trenches.

Readers who loved Downton Abbey, especially the subplot involving Tom the Irish chauffeur, will find much that strikes the same chord.

The family drama and melodrama are a big part of the charm of this story. This is not a functional family, which makes them much more interesting to read about. Kitty in particular is a high-spirited young woman who refuses to bend to either society’s expectations or her mother’s. While she is capable of doing the right thing, her tendency towards self-indulgence spells trouble for future books in the series.

The other fascinating story is Bridie’s tale of rags to disgrace to riches (and social opprobrium). After her own tragedy, she moves very far from the life she was expected to lead, and becomes something new and different. She also becomes cynical and practical, at least until she returns to where she began, only to discover that not nearly enough has changed.

daughters of castle deverill by santa montefioreThis is the first book in a projected trilogy. The Girl in the Castle was published last year in Britain as Songs of Love and War to rave reviews. It ends with not a conclusion, but an extremely pregnant pause. I’m looking forward to the US release of Daughters of Castle Deverill whenever it makes it to these shores.

Review: The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley + Giveaway

Review: The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley + GiveawayThe Buried Book by D.M. Pulley
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, literary fiction, mystery
Pages: 399
Published by Lake Union Publishing on August 23rd 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.
It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.
As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother—and now it’s chasing him too.

My Review:

The Buried Book is a chilling story about the loss of innocence and the end of childhood, told by a narrator who is unreliable for all the right reasons, but who just keeps trying to understand.

Jasper Leary is 9 years old. He feels abandoned when his somewhat mercurial mother takes him to her brother’s farm in rural Michigan, and leaves him there for an indefinite future. It is 1952 and all Jasper can see is that his mother doesn’t want him and his father doesn’t care enough to know where he is.

And living on the farm isn’t half as much fun for real as it is for vacation.

Everyone is trying to protect poor little Jasper. This isn’t the first time his mother has run off, but this is the first time she’s left him so far from home. And Jasper’s picture is probably the one in the dictionary next to the saying about “little pitchers” and “big ears”. No one tells Jasper exactly what’s going on with his mother, but he hears plenty – and all of it bad.

When he finds his mother’s childhood diary hidden away in the burned wreck of her parents’ old house, Jasper finds himself seeing into the thoughts and feelings of his mother when she was a 15-year-old girl – and discovers that there was plenty of bad stuff swimming below the surface of this sleepy little farming community back then – and fears that some of it might still be chasing his mother all these years later.

We follow Jasper as he tries to piece together a picture of what happened to his mother, then and now. There is so much that he tries to understand about the world around him, and he so often fails.

Not because he’s not intelligent, but because he has so little to go on. Everyone is trying to protect him from what they perceive as the inevitable awful truth. As far as most people are concerned, his mother is just a bad seed who probably came to her rightfully bad end. And he is, after all, just 9 years old, and he doesn’t yet understand all the terrible ways that the world works.

But she is Jasper’s mother. And he can’t give up, no matter how much trouble he gets himself into. He keeps pursuing that elusive truth, no matter how much the adults, both good and bad, try to keep him from pursuing his missing mother.

Jasper takes a journey through dark places that he is too young to understand. But he keeps going anyway. And in the end, learns that there are some things he would be better off not knowing. But he’ll never be a child again.

Escape Rating A-: The Buried Book is a story that rewards the reader’s patience. The set up takes a long time, and Jasper’s necessarily limited understanding and rightfully childish point of view can make it difficult for adult readers to get inside his head. It’s not a comfortable fit.

But it is a rewarding one. At about halfway, the story suddenly takes off. Jasper has learned enough, or stumbled into enough, that whatever is chasing his mother is also chasing him. He’s afraid to trust any of the adults in his world. He has no way of knowing friend from foe, but he is rightfully certain that the adults mostly want to stop him. And even if it is supposedly for his own good, he can’t let go.

There’s a painful lesson in here about the darkness that lies beneath, and that people don’t want to see. The events of his mother’s adolescence are still with her in Jasper’s present. She wasn’t able to trust any of the adults in her life, either. But the way that they failed her, and continue to do so, is a big part of what destroyed her life, and may also consume Jasper’s.

The end of this story is utterly heartbreaking. Jasper learns a terrible lesson. It’s the one about being careful what you wish for, because you might get it. When the story ends, Jasper is 12, and his childhood is over.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley to one lucky US or Canadian commenter:

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Review: Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

Review: Pistols and Petticoats by Erika JanikPistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook
Genres: feminist history, historical fiction, historical mystery, history, mystery, women's history
Pages: 248
Published by Beacon Press on April 26th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years
In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.
Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.
Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison and Law and Order’s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.
Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

My Review:

I want to make a joke about Pistols and Petticoats being “two, two, two books in one”, but the problem with the book is that it isn’t. Instead it is two books that attempt to be combined into one. Unfortunately the seam between the two books is rather visible, and leaves a nasty and distinguishing scar.

What we have feels like an attempt to yoke a scholarly study about the changing roles of women in detection and police work joined at the slightly non-working hip with a book about the changing roles of women in detective fiction and the lives and careers of women who have made successful and even groundbreaking forays into the mystery genre.

The desire, often stated in the book, is to show how the increased roles of women in novels and later other media often presaged the increasing roles for women in real-life police work. But the two parts don’t flow into one another, possibly because there isn’t much there, well, there.

Instead, in the historical narrative, police work for women was often proposed as, and in many cases restricted to, an extension of the reform zeal of the late 1800s and the belief that dealing with social problems and juvenile crime were a natural outgrowth of women’s roles in the home. Fictional female sleuths, on the other hand, were created first of all to entertain, but created in a way that was not supposed to upset the status quo. Which explains both Miss Marple and the reason that so many young female sleuths’ careers ended in marriage.

Women were supposed to remain in the domestic sphere, and that sphere was supposed to be the pinnacle of all their ambitions. Elderly spinsters like Miss Marple needed something to occupy their time, particularly in eras where so many women were left without spouses after a generation of young men died in warfare.

Pistols and Petticoats does not read like a successful amalgamation of the author’s two “plot” lines. The historical sections that detail women’s real and increasing contributions to police work and detection, read, unfortunately, like rather dry history. It’s interesting, but only becomes lively when the women themselves have interesting lives, like Alice Clement or Kate Warne.

The parts that thrill are where the author sinks her teeth into the history of female detectives and the history of the females who have written successful mysteries. The early years of female writers who made the genre what it is today, but whose works have not continued to find readers, was fascinating.

The information about where certain trends in mystery took their cues from contemporary life and women’s places in it also pulled me in. Not just the heroines of the Golden Age, like Christie and Marple, and Sayers with Harriet Vane, but also how those characters fit into their own society.

murderess ink by dilys winnEscape Rating C+: All in all, the parts of the book that dealt with mystery fiction made for more compelling reading. They also reminded me of a book that I have not thought of in years, Murderess Ink. Murderess Ink, the followup to Murder Ink, was a lighthearted study of the women who created and populated the mystery genre from the Golden Age until its late 1970s present. As much as I enjoyed the sections of Pistols and Petticoats that dealt with the genre, perhaps it is time for an update of Murder Ink and Murderess Ink.

Review: A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

Review: A Certain Age by Beatriz WilliamsA Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 336
Published by William Morrow on June 28th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.
As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.
But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.
Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

My Review:

There’s a pun in the title of this fascinating story. The protagonist, Mrs. Theresa Sylvester Marshall, often refers to her 40-something self by the coy term, “a woman of a certain age”. But in addition to Theresa’s “certain age”, the time period in which this story takes place is also “a certain age”. It’s the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. Prohibition, speakeasies, bootleg gin, the lost generation of young men and women who survived the war, the hedonistic freedom of an era of excess without restraint.

Until it all crashes at the end of the decade, but no one sees that coming in the early 1920s. From here, it seems as if the good times will roll on forever.

Among the New York City upper-crust, Theresa is one of the shining stars. Her family is old New York blueblood, and her husband is new New York money. But she is also a woman slipping from youth to middle-age, and she is in the throes of a crazy and slightly desperate fling.

She’s in love with her young lover, and that turns out to be a recipe for disaster.

Not that it’s a problem for her husband – they have an understanding and he has a young mistress of his own. But Captain Octavian Rofrano is an honorable man who wants to marry his lover, and Sylvo Marshall is a middle-aged man who wants to grab at happiness one last time before it is too late.

And in helping her brother enact an old family tradition, Theresa makes the mistake of introducing her lover to the woman he has been searching for all his life.

When the dust finally settles, everyone’s world is a much different place from where they began. Except for Theresa and Sylvo. They find themselves right back where they started.

Escape Rating A-: For the first third of the book, the story seems a bit slow. Or perhaps I should say quiet. The action is set up in a way that tries to pull the reader into the middle of the story, but doesn’t quite gel at first.

Once it gels, it takes off like the gallop of Man o’ War, the famous horse that brings Theresa and Octavian together. Once the story gets its legs under it, so to speak, I couldn’t put it down, not even when I needed to be someplace urgently. Once the story grabbed me, I could not let it go until the end.

About that beginning – we find ourselves reading a gossip columnist covering the latest “trial of the century”. Theresa is one of the witnesses, as is nearly everyone else in this drama. And her scandalous relationship with her young Captain really gives the gossip mongers something delicious to chew over.

Some of what they are chewing over showcases the shallowness and self-absorption of that upper-crust. It’s only as the layers are stripped away that the people develop depth and become interesting (very interesting) enough to care about.

But as we see the events that led up to the trial, we get involved in the lives of all the players. Because the young lady that Theresa’s brother wants to marry is the daughter of the accused murderer. And she’s the woman that Theresa’s young lover should have been with all along.

But he’s the person who exposed her father’s crime – if her father committed a crime at all. Something that the jury will have to decide.

In the events leading up to the trial, we discover just how entangled all of these relationships are.

The central relationship in this story is the one between Theresa and Octavian, who she always calls “Boy” or “Boyo”. And that’s the way she refers to him in her own head, whenever she thinks about him. As much as she claims to love him, it’s clear that what she really loves is the idea of him and the way that he makes her feel. And she certainly doesn’t see him as anything approaching an equal. He’s a toy that she indulges, and that she indulges herself with. He’s not a separate entity in his own right, until he begins to pull away.

It is ironic for Theresa that all of the events that turn her life upside down are at her own instigation. She’s the person who insists that Octavian present her brother’s ring to Sophie as part of an old family tradition. She’s the one who asks Octavian to look into the Fortescue family to find out if there are any major skeletons in the family closet. And in the end, she’s the one who finally does the right thing.

Which redeems her character, and takes the whole story from interesting to awesome.

I tried to describe A Certain Age at dinner, and fell into hyperbole. It’s a Jazz Age story. And a coming of age story. And a story of the “lost generation”. It’s a woman finally finding herself. And another woman losing her identity. And a story about the dawn of aviation. And a bit of murder mystery. It’s just a great read. Enjoy!

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Review: The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan + Giveaway

Review: The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan + GiveawayThe Woman in the Photo: A Novel by Mary Hogan
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, library binding, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, women's fiction
Pages: 432
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 14th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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In this compulsively readable historical novel, from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of two young women—one in America’s Gilded Age, one in scrappy modern-day California—whose lives are linked by a single tragic afternoon in history.
1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.
Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?

My Review:

In The Woman in the Photo there are two stories. One is the story of Elizabeth Haberlin in the May of 1888 and the critical May of 1889. She’s the wealthy daughter of a doctor. Most important for this story, she’s the daughter of the private physician to all of the rich “bosses” who have their second homes at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club on Lake Conemaugh. The dam and the lake are perched ominously, and eventually disastrously, above the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Until the fateful day, May 31, 1889, Elizabeth Haberlin led a privileged, if restricted, life. She chafed at those restrictions but didn’t often challenge them, at least not until the flood, when she took a horse and attempted to warn the citizens of Johnstown before the dam gave way. In the face of the disaster wrought by the sheer selfishness and greed of her peers, Elizabeth chose to take up a life of purpose, assisting Clara Barton and her newly established Red Cross in their disaster relief efforts.

Her family never took her back. And she never forgave them for their callous self-centeredness.

In the 21st century, Elizabeth Parker, called Lee by her adopted mother, sees a picture of Clara Barton and an unknown woman who looks like her when her closed adoption file is pried open to give her limited genetic information.

Lee begins a quest through libraries, databases and finally back to the scene of that long ago tragedy, in her attempt to find out who she is and where she came from. Only to discover that while her family history is interesting, she is who she has always been, the daughter of the woman who loved and adopted her.

Escape Rating B-: I don’t believe that I have ever read a story that buried the lede as deeply as the author has in this book.

To “bury the lede” in journalistic parlance is to begin a story with details of secondary importance to the reader while postponing more essential points or facts.

Throughout most of the story in the past, Elizabeth Haberlin is a self-absorbed and vain young woman who has nothing better to do than choose which dress to wear and how to escape her mother’s suffocating expectations for her.

And we get to read a whole lot of that, to the point where it drags, in order to get to the incredibly fascinating parts of her life. After the terrible tragedy, Elizabeth becomes an entirely new person, finding joy in purpose and throwing off the expectations of her family. That’s the person I wanted to read about and follow along with, and it is that part of this story that gets the fewest number of pages and the least amount of time. I wanted to see who she became, and how she felt about it. Her life as a debutante was so pointless and boring that it bored even her.

I loved the parts about Elizabeth Haberlin after she chose to become her own person, and that’s what I got the least of in this story.

The 21st century parts also suffered from too much setup and not enough payoff. We get a lot of exposure to Lee’s current circumstances, which pretty much suck. The fascinating part of Lee’s story is her search and eventual discovery of her blood relations, and that is the shortest part of her story with the least emphasis.

I want the book I didn’t get – the story of Elizabeth Haberlin’s life after the Flood. I want to know so much more about the person she became, the life she led, and how she felt about turning her back on her old life and its old expectations. That’s not the book I got. Damn it.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

The publisher is giving away a copy of The Woman in the Photo to one lucky US/CAN commenter:

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Review: June by Miranda Beverly Whittemore + Giveaway

Review: June by Miranda Beverly Whittemore + GiveawayJune by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: family saga, historical fiction
Pages: 400
Published by Crown on May 31st 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever. 
Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?
Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.
As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

My Review:

June is two stories that run kind of in parallel, but finally come together at the end. The two stories themselves are fascinating, but how much the reader will enjoy this story may come down to how you end up feeling about the house having, and providing, dreams to its inhabitants.

In 2015 Cassie Danvers inherits the shambling, decaying mansion of Two Oaks in small-town Ohio from her late grandmother, June. When Cassie holes herself up in the crumbling pile, she is suffering from a deep depression and a truckload of survivor’s guilt.

Cassie’s grandmother raised her after her parents were killed in an alcohol-fueled automobile accident when Cassie was 8. The last time Cassie and her grandmother spoke was at Cassie’s exhibition of her photographic recreation of that accident. June was incensed at the wanton display of her life’s greatest tragedy. Cancer took her before enough time passed to heal both their wounds.

Into Cassie’s grief-stricken wallow, comes Hollywood actress Tate Montgomery and her entourage. Tate is Hollywood royalty, her parents, Jack Montgomery and Diane DeSoto, were big Golden Age stars, who, once upon a time, filmed a movie in Cassie and June’s tiny little town of St. Jude. Jack has just died and left his entire considerable fortune to Cassie – but no one knows why.

As the story unfolds, and as Cassie, Tate and her assistants Nick and Hank investigate that long-ago summer, truths are revealed that change the lives of all involved. And some history repeats itself, just a tiny bit.

But when the revelations poke every bit as big a hole in both Cassie’s and Tate’s identities as the giant hole that opens in the mansion’s roof, they both have to go back and figure out who they really are, and what they really feel about the world that has so suddenly changed.

And Cassie has to decide whether she loves Nick enough to forgive him for choosing his job over his life. And hers.

Escape Rating B: The two stories themselves are absorbing. In 1955 we see June and her friend best friend Lindie as the entire town is captivated by the stars that come to their little town. Because the perspective is mostly Lindie’s we also feel her heartache. Lindie, who is 14 when this story opens, loves her friend June, even it she isn’t ready to acknowledge exactly what she feels or what that means about her and her future. June is 18, and has no clue. She expects to live a conventional small town life, marrying the man who has been chosen for her and making her own kind of happiness.

Instead, the events surrounding the movie shoot change both their lives forever. Whether for the better or the worse is something that the reader has to judge for themselves. But Cassie’s discovery of the events of that long-ago summer change her life in 2015.

In the present, Cassie, Tate and Tate’s half sister Esmeralda become caught up in the hunt for the truth about that long-lost summer. It is only after the facts are finally revealed and the Hollywood invasion is long gone that Cassie discovers that the truth has been living across the street from her all along.

As I read June, it also felt a bit reminiscent of Nora Roberts’ Tribute. Parts of the setup are similar – granddaughter inherits house from grandmother, discovers that grandmother’s past with the movie business was different and more dangerous than she was ever told. The difference is that the past in June wants to be revealed, and the past in Tribute contains evil that still wants to be concealed.

Back to June – I found the events in the past more compelling reading than the present. But it’s Lindie’s story at the end that is really sticking with me. What I’m still having a difficult time coming to terms with is the whole thing about the house dreaming and revealing the truth of the past to Cassie through dreams as a plot device in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward – but fascinating – family saga.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of June to one lucky (US/Canada) commenter on this post:

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