Category Archives: World War I

“This Is How I’d Love You,” by Hazel Woods — A Perfect Read Any Time of the Year

I discovered the novel This Is How I’d Love You totally by accident. I was searching for books about the history of chess. Among the selections was this World War I-era story about chess players. After being matched, the correspondents share some details about each other’s lives, but the main purpose of writing is playing the game. Each man enjoys the chess challenge and is very good at it. Although they have never met, they like and respect each other.

Sascha Dench is a journalist at the New York Times who is very much against the U.S. entering World War I. In fact, he’s penned incendiary opinion pieces–and they have cost him his job. Charles Reid is from a wealthy New York business family. Unwilling to join the family firm, he enlists–much to the ire of his father. He is now serving as a medic in France, confronting war’s horrors and adjusting to life as a soldier.

Meanwhile, Sascha Dench is at loose ends. His independent-minded daughter Hensley, a seamstress, has recently graduated from school. However, she is facing her own serious problems. Deciding that a new start is in order, her father accepts a mine supervisor job in New Mexico through a distant relative of his late wife. Hensley goes with him–feeling alone and very unsure of what to expect in an unfamiliar part of the country.

One day, Hensley intercepts a letter from Charles to her father. She writes back, and encloses her letter with her dad’s reply. In addition to telling Charles about herself, she includes descriptions of their new home, and a few sketches and doodles.

Charles responds, and he soon looks forward to the family’s letters. On some days they are what keeps him going. “Your words have become as necessary to me as my own heartbeat,” Charles tells Hensley. His words are just as vital to her. When tragedy strikes, they are there for each other. It isn’t long before they fall in love through their correspondence. However, Charles and Hensley still have to dig deep to reveal truths about themselves. As they journey toward each other to meet in person, their relationship is strengthened even more.

This is Hazel Woods’ first novel. I can’t wait for the next one!  And I hope it will be just as beautiful. Here is an interview with the author.

 

Image result for free clip art chess pieces

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Filed under historical fiction, Romance, World War I

A Spooky Halloween Read

I guess my motto should be “Better late than never.” I read the young adult novel In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters, last Halloween. I stayed up until the wee hours to finish it, and it was worth the effort. It had been a Big Library Read selection, and appropriately eerie for the holiday. It takes place during the time of World War I, in 1918. This was also the time of the influenza epidemic in the U.S. Also around this time, many people were into spiritualism–communicating with those who had gone before. Mary Shelley Black is the main character. She is mourning her friend Stephen, who had enlisted and was killed.

We see the events of the story through Mary’s experiences, thoughts, and memories, and there are many twists and turns.

The photo below was taken a couple of years ago. There’s a Halloween tradition around here that businesses paint their windows for the holiday. Some of the local school kids participate.  This one was a favorite–appearing in Mad Fox Brewery’s window.

 

Great Mad Pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fiction, historical fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized, World War I

The Lake House–An Edge-of-your-seat Tale of a Cold Case

First of all, don’t mix up Kate Morton’s  2015 novel The Lake House with the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves movie drama of some years ago. They’re not the same at all. But let me tell you–I couldn’t put the book down! At just over 400 pages, it was well worth the late nights I spent enjoying the ups and downs of the book. And the chapters move fast.

If it’s possible to love a place that you’ve never been to in person, that place, for me at least, is Cornwall, England. The setting alone was enough to attract me. I only learned the story as I began reading. For once, I skipped the complete synopsis.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the plot centers on DC Sophie Sparrow, who is on enforced “holiday” in Cornwall, visiting her grandfather. She has gotten too close to a case she is investigating. At the suggestion of Donald, her partner on the force, she is advised to “take her time.”

At loose ends, she runs every morning with her grandfather’s dogs. On one jaunt, she discovers Loeanneth, a secluded, abandoned estate of the Edevane family. Without knowing exactly why, Sophie believes something horrible happened there. As always, she asks questions, and they lead her to a tragic cold case. Just before a Midsummer party in 1933, eighteen-month-old Theodore Edevane disappears, and is never seen again. Was he murdered? Kidnapped? There’s only been speculation for years.

As she uncovers the facts of the case, Sophie’s search brings her to famous mystery writer A. C. Edevane. Theo is her youngest brother. But she has no desire to dredge up the past. Has Sophie hit another dead end?

As the story unfolds. time shifts between the years of the two world wars and the early twenty-first century. The characters are richly drawn and real, with many sides, There are many surprises. Don’t assume this is an easy one to figure out. Whatever you, do, don’t read ahead!

And if you like this story, you will enjoy her other books.

Visit the author’s website for gorgeous pictures of Cornwall.  Here are some of my favorite free clip art images of the place:

 

Image result for Cornwall England free clip art

 

Image result for Cornwall England free clip art

 

 

Image result for Cornwall England free clip art

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Filed under Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized, World War I, World War II

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Erik Larson is a favorite author in my book group. We have read nearly all of his work. Several people have been lucky enough to hear him speak. He has a reputation for being enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and gracious.  What I have also learned in conversation with other readers is how everyone has his or her own  favorite, for a variety of reasons.

There was immediate interest in Dead Wake from its release, and so many people raved about how good it is. I first tried the print version, but for my book group I decided to try the audio version. I was not disappointed. Although I have forgotten the name of the gentleman reading it, I was immediately drawn into the time period. Readers and listeners can’t help but think of the sinking of the Titanic, which happened just three years earlier. But in 1915, it was wartime. From history class, everyone remembers  that things don’t end well for the Lusitania. 

However, through Larson’s meticulous research –another of his trademarks as an author–he makes the time period, the people, and the politics come to life. You’ll learn much more than you did in school. Suspense is maintained so strongly throughout that you can’t put it down, and you are somehow hoping for a different outcome until the very end.

Unlike Larson’s previous books, no photos accompany the print text. Perhaps Larson would prefer that readers see events in their minds in this case. The book also makes readers think about what choices they would make in certain situations.

The Acknowledgments and Source Notes are also interesting and worthwhile reading.

 

 

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Filed under Audiobooks, History, journeys, New Titles, Nonfiction, World War I