This story takes place during the Depression era in Kentucky, where a band of women traverse Appalachia on horseback to deliver books to those who need them the most. One of the two main characters is Alice who was from an upper class background in England and after marrying she moved with her American husband and his father to Kentucky, where his father was a coal baron and a very prominent citizen. She feels like an outsider until she meets Margary, the other leading character in the book.
She is inspired to join Marjory as a Packhorse Librarian although her husband and father-in-law strongly disapprove. Alice's new role as a traveling librarian gives her great pleasure and also keeps her busy and allow her to form deep friendships with the other Librarians.
After her marriage becomes unbearable, she leaves the home where she lived with her husband and father-in-law and moves in with Marjory and begins to live her life on her own terms. The women transforms the community and their own futures with the one thing they all have in common, their love of books.
There are many hardships to overcome but this book does have an upbeat ending and I highly recommend it. XO ~ Karen!
JUNE BOOK REVIEW
It begins by telling of Clyde Gillette who is handsome but poor and uneducated.
He is employed as a young man in many insignificant jobs but yearns for the better things in life. He ultimately finds work at a garment factory where because of his charm, he is noticed by the wealthy factory owner.
Clyde becomes involved with a co-worker, Roberta Alden and has an affair with her.
She loves him but he is actually attracted to the beautiful daughter Sondra Finchley who is the daughter of the factory owner. After falling in love with Sondra, Clyde tries to end his relationship with Roberta but when she tells him that she is pregnant, he decides to kill her.
He takes her out on a lake in a rowboat and hits her with a paddle so that she loses her balance and falls overboard. Clyde knows that Roberta can't swim but he leaves her in the water to die.
In the meantime he has a romance with Sondra and with her fathers blessing, he plans to marry her and lead the life he has always dreamed of. Unfortunately for Clyde, Sondra's body is found and evidence points to Clyde being responsible for her death and he is found guilty.
His dreams of grandeur are over as he faces criminal charges for his crime. If the plot of this book sounds familiar, it was made into a movie called "A Place In The Sun" with Montgomery
Clift as Clyde and Elizabeth Taylor as Sondra and Shelley Winters as the unfortunate Roberta.
If you haven't seen the movie... read the book first! ;)
ENJOY YOUR JUNE READING! I'll be back in July with another review! ~Karen
In a time of such derision in this country, it was heartwarming to read such a pro America book that showed young soldiers, mostly barely graduated from high school, willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.
This book is about three young women in their mid twenties who have volunteered to serve as Red Cross Club mobile Girls who served coffee, donuts and taste of home in the USA for the service men. Fiona the narrator has learned that her fiance' Danny is MIA and she volunteers hoping that she will receive more information about him if she is assigned overseas. Viviana is bored with her life and seeks adventure and Dottie is a musician/singer who brings happiness (if only temporary) to the troops that they serve. Their path takes them from London to the English countryside to Paris and Normandy and eventually to Belgium and Germany where Fiona finds out that her fiance' has died.
The girls have become hero's and are praised by the US government and their story also appears in Life magazine. These girls risked their lives daily for their country trying to bring some degree of comfort to the soldiers in the camps that they were assigned to.
An interesting side to this story is that Adele Astaire (brother of Fred) was a widow of Lord Cavindish and she joined the American Red Cross in London.
I recommend this book for a good read that will leave you glad to know how proud is was to be and fight for America.
I would love to know your thoughts once you've read it! Write me at email@example.com and write my name in the subject field!
Happy Reading & Happy Mother's Day to all! ~ Karen
This story takes place in New York City in 1893 when poverty was rampant throughout the United States. A sanctuary run by Lily Doherty was provided for orphan children to be moved by train from New York to the mid and far west where they could be adopted by families who would provide secure and hopefully loving homes for them.
It all starts with Bridget Collins who works as a seamstress in a factory managed by the son of the owner. He seduces Bridget and when she refused his advances he becomes even more aggressive and because she is afraid of him she runs away. Bridget is a religious Catholic and seeks shelter at her church. The pastor, Father Nelson puts her in touch with Lily Doherty
who also provides shelter for abused women at her Sanctuary. It is there that she learns of the Orphan Train and volunteers to accompany Carl Watson who is the leader in charge of delivering the orphans to their prospective parents.
The book tells of the happy as well as the disappointing futures of some of the children.
I am glad to say that after many side roads the book has a happy ending with Bridget and Carl continuing their lives together working to make more orphans lives and futures stabile.
An interesting fact; While this is a novel it is based on actual facts regarding Orphan Trains.
I found it fascinating and hope you do too! Until next month....
While watching a 1941 movie called The Ziegfield Girlls, I noted how beautiful Hedy Lamarr was and then remembered reading a book about her telling that, while she was a star in movies in the forties, she also had a second life as a scientist...
The book I am reviewing this month is The Only Woman In The Room by Marie Benedict. This is a historical fiction biography of Hedwig Kiesler, later known as Hedy Lamarr. While known for her great beauty as well as her acting abilities, she was not recognized until much later for her scientific accomplishments.
The story tells of her journey from Austria where she was an actress to Hollywood where she met Louis B. Mayer, who made her a star in MGM films. It also tells of her unhappy marriage to her controlling and abusive husband Fritz Mandl, who was the wealthiest man in Austria. Her family encouraged her to marry Fritz because she was Jewish and they were fearful of anti-Semitism. Fritz was an Arms Dealer who held meetings with the Nazi's and other political and military figures.
While making movies she was also involved in technology to develop a radio guidance systems for torpedoes which were used in World War 2. She eventually received a U.S. patent for being the co-inventor for tracking submarine torpedoes more accurately.
I admired her greatly and highly recommend this book for an interesting read.
Soon enough, the weather will be nice enough to take a book outside and read! I hope you enjoy your March! I'll be back next month with another review! ~ Karen
The Alice Network is a real story about women spies during World War 1 and was inspired by Louise de Bettignies, known as the Queen of spies. Her name was changed to Alice (also known as Lilly) for her espionage work and was Eve's mentor.
Eve was multilingual in English, French and German which made her very valuable to the network.
She worked as a waitress in a French restaurant, owned by Rene Bordelon who was a collaborator with the Germans who frequented his restaurant. Eve swore to him that she could not speak German and therefore was able to eavesdrop on the unsuspecting Germans.
This valuable information she was then able to pass to Lilly who then passed it on to England. She became the mistress of Rene and for awhile was successful in keeping her true identity secret. When she was suspected by Rene of her passing information, he became violent and broke all of her fingers when she would not reveal who she was working with within the network.
Another leading character is Charlotte St. Clair (Charlie) who years later is on her way to Switzerland to have an abortion. While in France she looks for Eve who is an old, foul mouthed drunk who ultimately helps her to find out what happened to her cousin Rose, who has not been heard from in several years. She decides to pursue her hunt and decides not to continue to Switzerland to have the abortion.
The story vacillates between World War 1 and 2 with the young Eve in the former and Charlie and the old Eve in the latter. They discover that Rene is also responsible for what happened to Rose, and both Eve and Charlie set out to find him and make him accountable for his evil deeds.
I will stop there so I don't give away the ending. It is a wonderful factual book and makes us aware of the courageous women that served as spies.
Let me know if you have read it! I'd love to hear your thoughts! And please feel free to share with any good books you've read!
Cuddle up with a blanket and a good book and stay warm inside!
See you in March! ~ Karen
Hercule Poirot's Christmas tells the story of Simeon Lee who invites his family and friends to his home for Christmas. The guests are suspicious as the family is not on good terms.
He also invites his granddaughter Pilar to come and live in his house, as well as his former partner Stephen Farr who arrives on Christmas Eve.
The family overhears Simeon speaking with his lawyer about updating his will, and later that night Simeon's dead body is found. Hercule Poirot is called in to find the murderer and proceeds to question all of the guests. It turns out that neither Pilar or Stephen Farr are who they claim to be.
As typical in Christie's novels, you can never guess who the real culprit is until the very end and very often is is the least suspicious person.
I found this book to be a perfect escape from the sadness of not being able to be with family and friends during the holidays. I recently suffered a loss in my family and to not be able to hold each other tight in support brought on a stronger sense of sadness. It has been difficult to say the least, as it has been for so many of us. I hope you can delve into a good book that takes you away for a bit or perhaps reminds you of a purpose or a dream.
WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPIER AND PROSPEROUS 2021! SO MANY BOOKS TO READ!!!
Want to start a BOOK CLUB? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and write my name in the subject field. :)
Hello! I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! Here is my December book review, perfect for the cold weather! Just grab a blanket and hit the couch with this book!
It tells the story of a marriage that ends in tragedy. Charles Bovary is a kind hearted but dull, boring and unambitious doctor who marries Emma. She is a beautiful farm girl who is raised in the convent. She lives in her fantasy world of poetry, romance and dreams of shopping for beautiful
things and becomes increasingly unhappy with her marriage to Charles and even her daughter Berthe.
Emma begins an affair with Rodolphe, a landowner who she plans on running away with but he eventually leaves her and ends their affair. She develops brain fever and is bedridden until she meets Leon, a former acquaintance who she falls in love with. Her life becomes chaotic as she loses sight of reality and again goes to her fantasy life. Her shopping is out of control and she begs both Rodolphe and Leon for help with her debts but is refused. She is afraid of public ruin and dies a painful death after swallowing arsenic.
Charles loves her to the end even after discovering her love letters from Rodolphe and Leon and still does not blame her as he struggles to pay her debts. He dies still loving her and blaming all of her faults on fate. Berthe ends up working at a cotton factory, never knowing true love from her mother.
Madam Bovary was made into a movie in 2014.
And just an FYI... I have been following season 4 of The Crown and am loving it!
Until next month... Wishing you all bright and happy holidays ahead. Stay healthy! ~Karen
First Published in 1856 ;)
This months review is of both a book and a movie...
The novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier was written in 1938 and was made into a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as his wife. The wicked possessive house mistress Mrs. Danvers, played by Judith Anderson was quite frightening and scared poor Mrs. Winter (which she intended) and let her know that she could in no way follow in Rebecca's footsteps. Since Mrs. Danvers could not abide having Mrs. Winter live at Manderley, which she thought of as Rebecca's home and no one else should or could take her place, she set fire to the house and died there. That's not giving anything away as you know this from the very beginning... It's the the mystery of Rebecca's death that remains questionable until the end of both novel and movie and I absolutely loved both.
Netflix just released a new Rebecca this week which unfortunately did not live up to the original.
The new cast was okay, Armie Hammer as Maxim and Lily James as Mrs. Winter. Also playing a pivotal role as Mrs. Danvers is Kristin Scott Thomas, who I barely recognized. The performances could not in my opinion stand up to the original actors in the same roles. The Netflix version was not nearly as dramatic as the original. Watch the original first and you'll see.
I know I owe you a review on Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving but... That was one weird book!
Thinking about starting a Book Club? It's actually the perfect time!
I'd love to know! Email me at: email@example.com and write KAREN in the subject field!
I love to read (usually 2 books a week) and my favorites are historical novels and and not mysteries (not gory). And I used to go to the movies once a week until the pandemic and now my best friend is Netflix.
My all time favorite movie is The Red Shoes. I must have seen it fifteen times and always look forward to seeing it again. It is based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale and Moira Shearer as the beautiful happy then troubled red haired ballerina is wonderful and who is called
upon to make a decision between love and her career. Unable to think straight. she runs with her red ballet shoes on and jumps from the balcony of the theater onto the path of an oncoming train. While it is not clear in the film if she dies (I think she does) the ballet goes on without her, only the Red Shoes will dance. I cry every time. The entire cast is terrific and even though is was made in the 1940's. it was filmed in Technicolor and is gorgeous and the ballet called The Red Shoes
is wonderful. As a young girl I took ballet lessons and this may be my main attraction to this film which I highly recommend.
I am currently reading The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, a very different kind of book from my usual tastes. However, I am enjoying reading about this very quirky family who has a pet bear and a stuffed dog that died and was brought back as a reminder of him when he was alive. As I said a very strange family. And I can't wait to bring you my review on it!