“May the road rise up to meet you” by Peter Troy

Rated 5 stars ***** Doubleday. 2012. 386 p.

May the road rise up to meet youMary Wilkens and Micah are southern slaves in 1853; Ethan McOwen survived the great famine of Ireland in 1847, while Marcella Arroyo (Abolitionist and feminist) is a Spanish immigrant living with her rich family in 1860 New York. Spanning the years from 1847 until 1867 the evils of slavery, along with the horrors of the Civil War, are described for readers. All have roles to play in the stories of these four characters as, with losses to endure and tears to cry, their stories eventually intertwine. Readers learn that there are good people in an evil world, and that good can come from bad – especially when you can’t see the whole picture of what’s happening.

This novel is reminiscent of great, sweeping historical dramas like “Roots” and “Gone with the wind.” The storyline jumps from person to person, so can become confusing. For example I’ll read about Ethan for a while then the storyline goes to Marcella for a few chapters. Afterwards I’ll read about Mary for a bit, then it meanders to Micah’s story. By the time the story returns to Ethan I forgot what he was doing.

However the book is interesting, emotional, and has great plot twists. I love historical fiction, so was willing to overlook the back and forth dilemma to give it 5 stars.

Recommended for Adults.

“The poppy field” by Deborah Carr

Rated 2 stars ** ebook. 2018. HarperImpulse.

The poppy fieldAfter fleeing a failed relationship, Gemma ends up in a small French town to renovate a farmhouse that belonged to her father’s cousin. There she meets handyman Tom, and they set about getting the house into shape. Within a short time she finds herself falling for him but, despite all the hints he drops, feels that he’s not interested. When they find an old box with letters written a hundred years earlier, Gemma finds herself immersed in the life of a nurse named Alice Le Breton.

Alice worked as a volunteer nurse in France during World War I where, despite the rules of not forming relationships with patients, she fell in love with an injured soldier. The more Gemma reads of Alice’s life and her romance with Ed, the more similarities she finds to her current life. Ultimately, Alice enables Gemma to finally make a difference in her own life.

I had problems with this book. As Emma and Alice told their stories in alternating chapters there were times when they were too wishy washy, but Gemma was more annoying. I thought Tom, and especially Ed, were much stronger role models than the women. In addition there was much comma misuse and poor sentence structure. A blatant editing error occurred in chapter 22. Gemma was upset that she’d have to leave Alice’s letters behind when she left the farmhouse. Tom showed up, hugged her, and was referred to as “Ed” instead of “Tom.” I’m not sure how all this made it past the editor, but these indiscretions conspired to make me go down a star in my review.

Though I had issues with this book, I will leave it up to you Adults to decide if you want to read it or not.

“Beyond the moon” by Catherine Taylor

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Published June 25, 2019. The Cameo Press.

Beyond the moon

Louisa, devastated at her beloved grandmother’s death, was drunk and a little confused at the top of a cliff during a foggy evening. Unsure of her footing, she fell partway down. The doctors were convinced she was suicidal, and admitted her to a psychiatric hospital against her will. A ruthless and uncaring staff ran the hospital, with patients left to fend for themselves.

During a smoke break a friend showed her how to sneak into the abandoned part of the hospital, which dated back to Victorian times. There Louisa discovered Robert, a soldier recovering from World War I injuries. She’s shocked to discover that when she’s with him it’s 1917, but when she leaves his presence she returns to her own time period – one hundred years later. It doesn’t take long before the two of them fall in love but how can their relationship work when they’re separated by time, and only Robert sees her?

After an unpleasant parting back to her own time period, Louisa somehow manages to travel back in time again. Her name is now Rose, a VAD nurse caring for wounded soldiers in France. Her desperate work as a nurse, and her hopes to be reunited with Robert are interspersed with his story as a British Prisoner of War in Germany as the author weaves seamlessly from 2017 to 1917 and back as she tells their wartime love story.

I was absolutely enthralled with this book, and couldn’t put it down. I loved reading about World War I, and was really upset at the way psychiatric patients were treated in 2017. The head nurse Louisa and her friends nicknamed Nurse Enema reminded me of Nurse Ratched from the movie “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” If you’re interested in historical fiction, time travel and romance, then this book is for you.

Highly recommended for Adults.

 

“White Rose Black Forest” by Eoin Dempsey

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2018. Lake Union Publishing.

White Rose Black ForestTwenty-six year old Franka Gerber experienced terror, turmoil and loss as a nurse in Nazi Germany. Her time with the White Rose movement had failed, and she was a traitor. Her mother, father, brother and boyfriend were dead so, with nothing to live for, Franka left her family’s cabin and entered the cold, snowy woods of the Black Forest to take her own life.

There she stumbled upon the body of a Luftwaffe soldier with broken legs, tangled in a parachute. Her instincts to help kicked in, and she managed to get him back to the cabin. Though he was the enemy she cared for his injuries, but soon suspected he was not who he claimed to be.

When Franka learns the real reason why the soldier had been in the snow that fateful night she knows the Gestapo could arrest both of them. Though filled with distrust, they realize the war’s outcome rests upon their cooperation. When she agrees to work with him, the responsibility weighs heavily on her shoulders. However, because of all that Hitler and his cronies had done in Germany, she was willing to bear it. Unfortunately the Gestapo is soon breathing down their necks, and they are forced to flee for their lives.

I absolutely loved this book, as Franka’s story kept me turning pages in my kindle until I reached the book’s satisfying conclusion. It was so good I finished it in just 1 day!

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

 

 

“More deadly than war: The hidden history of the Spanish Flu and the First World War” by Kenneth C. Davis

5 stars ***** 2018. Henry Holt & Company (Macmillan). 291 p. (Includes Appendices, a Bibliography, Notes and an Index.)

MoreDeadlyThanWarUsing period photographs, timelines and quotes from historians and physicians, Davis’ attention to detail puts the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 into its historical time and place. His finely researched book gives background information about the causes of World War I, in easy-to-read chapters, while also thoroughly explaining the pandemic that cost millions of lives around the world.

In a story like, narrative manner, Davis weaves in details of how the flu affected armies and civilians across the world. Readers are introduced to physicians who worked over the centuries to isolate the cause of various illnesses, showing the mindsets of their times. Fascinating facts about the spread of the flu, long hidden to history, are laid out and dissected.

High school and adult lovers of history will find this book to be an important one to add to their collections.

Highly recommended for ages 18 and up.

 

“The stolen marriage” Diane Chamberlain

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook.St. Martin’s Press. To be published October 3, 2017. (Includes “Author’s notes and Acknowledgements.”)

TheStolenMarriageIn 1943 twenty-three year old Tess DeMello was set to marry Vincent, the love of her life, in their Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore where they’d grown up together. He had become a doctor and she was studying to be a nurse so, when a severe outbreak of polio struck children in Chicago, Vincent volunteered his services for several months. His absence set the stage for Tess to visit Washington D.C. where she met Hank Kraft, a rich furniture maker from Hickory, a small North Carolina town. When she becomes pregnant she abandons Vincent, marries Hank, and moves to Hickory.

Hatred from her mother-in-law, as well as from Hank’s sister, former girlfriend, and all their friends greeted her, causing loneliness to cloud her every move. In addition, Tess soon realized Hank seemed to be hiding secrets, and had no feelings for her. Anxious to find a way to relieve the pressure of her marriage, Tess disobeyed Hank to volunteer her services as a nurse at the hospital the town built in 54 hours when polio struck their part of the state.  There she learned to stand on her own again, finally able to become the person she was meant to be.

Many themes are at work in this book, ranging from infantile paralysis (what polio used to be called), religion, mediums, relationships, racial inequalities and more. Readers will definitely have much to ponder, making this a great choice for a book club.

As a child my mother suffered from polio in the mid 1940’s, which caused her to be in a leg brace. To this day, she still has problems with that leg. This is the first book I’ve ever read about infantile paralysis/polio, which helped me understand what she and thousands of other children had to endure. Thank you Diane Chamberlain for enlightening readers on the subject through your excellent research and, of course, a huge round of applause is reserved for Jonas Salk.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.