“Lady Clementine” Marie Benedict

Rated 5 stars ***** 2020. Sourcebooks. 310 p. (Includes “Author’s note,” “Reading group guide,” and “A conversation with the author”)

Lady ClementineAlmost everyone over the age of 50 has heard about Winston Churchill, and how his speeches, tenacity and love for country led Great Britain through World War II. Despite all of the historical information available on Churchill, his wife has remained a shadowy figure. “Lady Clementine” seeks to address this oversight, and does so in a very enlightening manner.

Benedict focuses on the Churchill’s from their 1908 marriage through the end of World War II in 1945. Important historical events, family life, the ups and downs of Churchill’s political career, and her own battles are told from Clementine’s point of view. Constantly at Churchill’s side, she evaluated his speeches, made speeches of her own on topics near to her heart, and worked tirelessly behind the scenes for her husband. In that time period, being a strong minded and strong willed female in a man’s world often led to ridicule by his associates and her peers for her “unseemly behavior.” Despite naysayers, Clementine continued to further the cause of women’s equality and was a powerful, yet largely unknown, force behind Churchill’s greatness.

This enthralling, quick moving novel about an important women in history who had been largely unknown, kept me reading late into the evenings. I love historical fiction (especially when rich with historical details) and Benedict did not disappoint. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Highly recommended for Adults.

“Lost Autumn” by Mary-Rose MacCall

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. ARC. Published by G.P.Putnam’s Sons. To be published March 3, 2020.

Lost AutumnIn 1920 seventeen-year-old Maddie is learning how to be Prince Edward’s correspondence secretary on his train tour of Australia, feeling overwhelmed by her proximity to royalty.

In 1997 Victoria, a reporter, is asked to cover the death of Princess Diana, but finds herself at a loss for words.

In 1981 Maddie finds herself coming to terms with the loss of everyone she’d ever loved, wondering what she can to do right old wrongs.

In 1918 Helen, an ambulance driver in France, and Rupert, batman to the Prince of Wales, meet on the battlefield when she transports him to the hospital against the rules. They fall in love, but fate steps in to tear them apart.

The author bounces back and forth between these years as she tells stories of love, betrayal, broken relationships, strength and survival. Grief and loss, tinged with hope, survival and strength are woven throughout these stories.

I thought each storyline was interesting, and would have preferred to have each in its own standalone book. A particular favorite of mine was the World War I love story between Helen and Rupert, which inspired Maddie to write “Autumn leaves.” However, having so many storylines in one book was very confusing. In the many switches between timeframes, I had to constantly reread to figure out what had happened to that character earlier in the book.

Therefore I was a half fan of “Lost Autumn,” and will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.

Recommended for Adults.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

“The glittering hour” by Iona Grey

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. St. Martin’s Press. To be published December 10, 2019.

The glittering hourIn early 1936, nine-year-old Alice was confined to her grandparent’s estate while her beloved Mama goes on a business trip with Papa. Polly, her Mama’s former servant, is the only one to show her kindness as most of her time is spent with her Governess or in the nursery. Grandmama doesn’t want her around, while the only bright moments in her dreary life is receiving letters from Mama where she recalls her time as a young flapper in 1925. Her letters contain clues to a treasure she has to find – just like her Mama used to do when she was younger.

In 1925 Selina spent her days and nights drinking and partying with her rich friends. They traipse from one wild party to another, as she tried to forget the pain of losing her brother in the War and to break away from her parent’s tight grip. They want her to stop scandalizing the family name and settle down, but Selina wants to live her life as outrageously as possible. It was during one of her boisterous nighttime hijinks that Selina met Lawrence, a poor painter and photographer, earning his way through portrait commissions. Though they came from two vastly different places in society, they were instantly smitten with each other and fell madly in love.

Told in alternating viewpoints between the past and present, Selina and Lawrence’s love story draws you deep into the emotional whirlwind of their lives. Theirs is a love story that will leave you longing for a Lawrence of your own, someone who will love you forever and whose love is deeper than the deepest sea. I laughed. I cried. I couldn’t put it down. You will feel the same way. My only criticism is the cover. It, as well as the flowery UK cover, are too bland as neither captures the emotions this book generates.

This cover (see below) was the best of the three. download

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“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.

 

“An American princess: The many lives of Allene Tew” by Annejet van de Zijl

An American Princess5 stars ***** ebook. 2015. AmazonCrossing. (Includes “Author’s Note,” “Sources,” “Notes,” and an “Index.”)

Allene Tew was born in 1872, and her family came from Jamestown N.Y. Previously I had only heard of Jamestown because of Lucille Ball, of “I love Lucy” fame. Who knew that two women, both famous in their own rights, would be associated with such a small town?

Many years ago during my undergrad years, my Related Arts professor was a huge advocate of  “putting history into its time and place.” She advocated for the importance of knowing what was going on in the world of an artist, a musician, an architect, etc., as the events in their world explained how their work was a byproduct of that world.

Knowing someone’s time and place in history is so important, and is very informative. I love how Van de Zijl puts readers into Allene’s “time and place.” I had never heard of Allene before reading this book, but knew many historical figures with whom she associated and also knew about the many historical events that are discussed (the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, World Wars I and II, to name a few.) To know Allene was part of those times made her that much more real.

Van de Zijl’s describes how Jamestown, her marriages, and the current events of her time affected Allene, while her contemporaries were also part of the path she wove in life. Knowing what was happening to Allene, the people she interacted with, and why she acted the way she did in various circumstances are all-important to understanding her as a real person.

The title tells readers that Allene Tew was an American princess. I wondered what series of events, life decisions, happenings in the world, etc. led to her becoming a princess. Van de Zijl’s detailed, and heavily researched portrayal of Allene’s life and marriages, answering the reader’s question of why her future royal husband would accept an American without a title to become his wife (and how someone from the rugged town of Jamestown could aspire to royalty) are more examples of putting a character into their correct time and place. Van de Zijl did not disappoint.

This book is for readers who like to know history, both European and American, and how history’s events relate to the people of its time. It’s for readers who want to know about someone who found a way to be successful, despite the odds. It’s for those who enjoy going back in time, and feeling characters in a book “come to life.”

Highly recommended for Adults.

“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.