This is my absolute favorite kind of story. Historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a sprinkling of romance all rolled into one. Bonus points to this one for being set in a bookstore.
When Valerie returns to Paris to take on a job at a bookstore, she has one goal in mind – find out the truth about what happened to her parents. You see, her grandfather Vincent owns the bookstore. Of course he has no idea he’s hiring his granddaughter. He does, however, take an immediate liking to Valerie despite his gruff demeanor.
Slowly but surely, she begins to put together the pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle will tell the story of her childhood and why she was sent away at such a young age. But it’s a painful story to tell with more secrets than she’s expecting to learn.
Such a great, great story. I adore historical fiction set in this era. And this one has such a heartbreaking family component to it that I just couldn’t put it down. A definite winner!
I love, love, love historical fiction. And I love Kristin Harmel. So what could be better than this one?
When Ruby moves to Paris with her new husband, she has no idea what’s in store for the both of them. Sure, war is knocking on the door. But things can’t get that bad, can they? After all, she’s an American so she’ll undoubtedly be safe. As she soon finds out, however, nobody is truly safe in these uncertain times.
She naturally assumes the worst when her husband begins to sneak around, to disappear for days at a time. She could never imagine, though, what he’s actually involved in. And soon she finds herself involved as well.
This was a very enjoyable story. It’s beautiful and epic and emotional and so many other things along with quite an ending!
Books like this one are right up my alley. Historical fiction, World War II era, a bit of suspense thrown in…these are the stories that stick with me.
Elise has a promising career as a ballerina. She lives to dance, allowing herself to escape from the fact that her father is a high-ranking Nazi. She’s somewhat of a disappointment to her family as she chooses to immerse herself in her career rather than fall in line with their Nazi beliefs. When an injury forces her to take a break from dancing, she finds refuge on a small island.
It’s here that she meets Pieter. Instantly attracted to him, she resists for as long as possible. But when their chemistry becomes impossible to ignore, she finds herself in a precarious position as the daughter of a Nazi. Pieter, the man she loves, is part of the Resistance. Will it be possible to keep her two worlds separate?
This is, to me, the best and most compelling part of this story. There’s more, though. Fast forward to present day New York City. Jenni is suddenly and unexpectedly the benefactor of her deceased grandmother’s estate. Because she didn’t know much about her, and because her own life is in shambles, she immerses herself in grandma Elise’s past. What secrets will she uncover?
A great story for fans of historical fiction with some romance and a bit of mystery as well.
I love historical fiction, especially World War II era stories. I’ve read many, ranging from exceptionally good to just so-so to absolutely dreadful. But I’ve learned from each one of them, a bit of something from history that I was unaware of. And isn’t that, after all, the point of historical fiction?
Young Hannah’s family isn’t particularly concerned in the year 1939. Her German family is well to do, after all. They move in all the best circles and want for nothing. But things quickly begin to change in Berlin as the Nazis quickly move in and begin to take over. They find themselves being shunned by those who once welcomed them. Their possessions no longer belong to them. And they no longer feel safe. All because they’re Jewish.
So when her father discovers a possible escape route, he jumps on it. After much struggle, the family finds themselves aboard the St. Louis, bound for Cuba. The country has promised safe haven to those escaping Hitler’s Germany. As the family pulls away from the shores of their homeland, they begin to relax a bit and hope for a happy future. But things take an unfortunate turn when Cuba suddenly refuses to admit them. An entire ship full of passengers is stuck in limbo as they await word of their fate.
This is an outstanding debut novel. It’s clear that the author put much thought and research into this story. We hear the story from two generations, that of young Hannah and that of her great niece, Anna. As Anna discovers her past, she helps us to fill in the gaps as well. An excellent story for fans of historical fiction!
With every new piece of historical fiction I read, I gain something. Knowledge about a previously unheard of occurrence, deeper understanding of an event, compassion for a character that I never imagined…these things are all possible with a good story. Lilac Girls takes a horrible time most are familiar with, the Holocaust, and introduces the reader to an aspect that many have never heard of.
The year is 1939. Hitler has just invaded Poland. France is next. With her work at the French consulate, Caroline feels the tragedy more than most New Yorkers. Her job takes her into the lives of those most affected, finding homes for children orphaned by the war and arranging care packages for families.
Across the sea, Kasia witnesses her childhood stripped away as her town is taken over. Not satisfied just sitting by and watching everything she loves destroyed, she begins working for the underground resistance movement. Never in her wildest dreams does she imagine that not only will this endanger her life, but the lives of her mother and sister as well. When her secret life is discovered, they’re all rounded up and shipped off to Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women.
It’s here that they cross paths with Herta. Her path in life has been changed as well, although surely in not as tragic a way as Kasia’s. Before the invasion, Herta was well on her way to becoming a respected German doctor. Now she’s deep into war crimes and horrible experiments at Ravensbruck.
This is yet another story that reminds the reader of one of the darkest times in our world’s history, a time when people were persecuted and killed simply for who they were. It’s heartbreaking and thought-provoking at the same time, especially in today’s tumultuous climate. It’s also a story of love and survival and hope, things that can get people through some of the darkest times.
Well, I’ll be. Not a non-fiction fan here. I can count on one hand the number of non-fiction books I’ve ever loved… EVER! And I don’t like war books, either. Too much death and heartache. But when certain book friends rave about a book because it affected them so much, I sit up and listen. Plus this book was on sale for $2.99 when I bought it. 🙂
That’s the backstory. The main story is: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK.
City of Thieves is about two guys who normally wouldn’t be friends, thrown together for a week-long hunt for eggs during the German siege on Leningrad. It was a cold week for those young men. They almost die several times. They daily encounter other people’s death. And they fail over and over at finding eggs.
But they find something else. They find humanity in desolation and desperation. They find friendship. They find courage. One of the men finds humor in everything (thankfully, because I frankly needed the comic relief). The other finds love.
And that’s the best part of the whole thing… That LOVE can be found even in the wasteland of hate and war. That there’s a love story here FLOORED me and satisfied me to no end. Oh and it’s a TRUE one. TRUE love. Sigh.
As for the eggs: they can be had for a small wager, but they are no prize.
What can I say about Ruta Sepetys other than she’s amazing? She has this amazing ability to take a piece of history and weave a complex, compelling piece of fiction around it. Her latest masterpiece is no exception.
The year is 1945, the place is Prussia. The war is winding down, but the horrors of it are not. As thousands of refugees attempt to make their way to safety, we are introduced to several of them. They each have a story to tell, and secrets to keep. Their paths converge as one in an attempt to survive.
There’s Joana, a selfless nurse whose only goal is to save people. There’s young Emilia, harboring a secret far beyond what we are led to believe. And Florian, the knight in shining armor who saves her. And Alfred Frick…what can I say about him? He’s shady and secretive and more than a bit unstable. Is he really going to help save the others from sure death?
Time and again, tragedy strikes in one form or another. Until finally, towards the very end, the biggest tragedy of all befalls Joana and Emilia and Florian and the others. And yes, even Alfred Frick. Some will survive, some will not.
Yet again, historical fiction written by a gifted author has given me new knowledge while telling an outstandingly brilliant story. The tragedy of the Wilhelm Gustloff was a real thing, while the tragedy of our characters was not. But the author makes us feel as if the entire story truly happened. And that’s exactly what exceptional books do…