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WHISTLING WOMEN: A Novel ~Kelly A. Romo

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

“A whistling woman and a crowing hen always come to some bad end” ~Proverb

The story begins in a Nudist Camp in California in 1935. The members are preparing to take their healthy lifestyle to the 1935 Worlds Fair in San Diego.  They will be a part of the exhibitions and earn money for their community in Northern California.  Addie has lived in the community for 17 years and has felt safe and happy within the ranks, but now she is learning that she will be asked to leave because she is not so young and beautiful any more and will not make the community needed funding. She does not wish to go to San Diego where her sister lives and will not communicate with her.  There is no choice. she must go if she is to stay on with the group.

The backdrop of historic San Diego and the Exposition makes this a very interesting read.  Romo has done her homework and then interjected a story about being an orphan and domestic abuse, incest and rape.  The reader is taken through a search for love and safety, forgiveness and fear, right up to the door of a family reuniting and healing.

Addie and Wavey’s parents have died.  Wavey is older and more useful on the Uncle’s farm as a worker in the early 1900s and so it is decided that Addie will leave Ohio and go to Kansas to a Orphan Asylum which also takes children who have been involved in crimes.  After many years, Addie has been sent for by her now married sister Wavey to join her family in San Diego.  There is lots of hope in this arrangement.  Wavey’s husband is violent and a rapist and after their daughter is born he begins to attack Addie also.  Addie does something terrible and is sent away to the Ohio farm and to more pain and sorrow.  She runs away heading back to California and finds the Nudist Colony.  Her sister no longer communicates with her-refuses her letters.

Wavey has 2 daughters now, Mary and Rumor.  Rumor is 15 and so excited about going to the exhibition and seeing all the future ideas exposed.  At church they hear about the Nudist exhibit and her friend is restricted from attending the exhibition.  Addie comes to their front door and is hoping for reconciliation with her sister.  Rumor is so excited to meet her aunt and begins a secret relationship with her; boldly visiting the in the exhibition and trying to understand life and her future.

The story was moving and a good read, but I found myself several times finding it too long.   I figured out what was happening and then there would be too much detail and redundancy.  The story would pick up again and would move forward.  I thought the religious sections didn’t really launch though were good transition material but sometimes confused the issue and theme.  That could be another story, the moralizing was important and provided boundaries in the story but also bogged the reader a bit.

I loved the Proverb at the start, thought it a good story and an interesting reflection on history.  Safety is often a tough issue when mixed with poverty and being female. Very readable and good sister dynamics – unraveling the family secrets.

Kelly Romo currently lives in Oregon with her three children, where she teaches writing, literature, and social studies.  She loves the outdoors: hiking, kayaking, and camping.  Kelly grew up in California running around with all her thrill-seeking cousins and siblings; exploring caves on the beaches of Mexico, riding dirt bikes, water skiing and snow skiing.”

“Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the lasting consequences of a single impulsive act.” (From Amazon page)

TLC Book Tour 

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LOVE AND TREASURE: A Historic Novel ~Ayelet Waldman

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

I am having trouble finding the words because I am so excited to share this fascinating story with my wonderful readers.  I received an unproofed copy of this book on my Kindle.  The book’s title page was there and the book was there, and then it disappeared.  It was quite a learning experience to get my copy recovered.  As I write, the final copy is being released today so I believe you will not have that trouble.  The final file of the book did not record how many pages (450 pages) or the correct time (about 13 hours) – It is a fairly substantial book so allow enough time to enjoy this read.

LOVE and TREASURE begins as Grandpa Jack is waiting in Maine to meet his granddaughter’s train to arrive.  Natalie is a young lawyer in New York City and is ending her marriage of 3 months by wanting to take care of her Grandfather who is dying of Pancreatic Cancer.  Trains are going to be very important in this story as are the themes of community, family and recovery.  What happens after a trauma when you are the only one left?

Jack Wiseman, or grandfather, has stolen a Peacock necklace and he would like Natalie to return the necklace to its rightful owners. This necklace is the journey of the story, the main character, and the connecting devise to transition the story to fullness.  The necklace was stolen from The Gold Train  in Salzburg, which Jack is assigned, as a Lieutenant and a language expert, to inventory and protect as the American Soldiers take control of the recovery after WWII.  The Gold Train is full of art, jewelry, crystal, dishes, silver, telephones, watches, and anything of value that the Jews of Hungary and specifically Budapest were to turn over to the Germans before they were sent to the camps.  The train had been looted again before it arrived in Salzburg and much had been stolen.  Although, it was intended to be returned to the people of Hungary almost nothing was.  There are a number of books about The Gold Train if you want to explore more.

Salzburg in 1944 was a giant refugee camp for Displaced Persons and it was a depot for sorting out and reconnecting people at the end of the war.  There was hope but primarily hunger there.

The necklace is the story of the Treasure and the trains carry the reader from Love story to Love story over the saga.  How do you find yourself and how does one trust enough to find relationships and community after trauma?  Where does that recovery begin?  What shape does it take after realizing how alone one is in the death defeating experience; which needs a new commitment to be alive?

Part of the 1913 segment was focused on the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Budapest.  LOVE AND TREASURE is a good history lesson and it is well written.

I know that many readers will enjoy LOVE AND TREASURE. This book will capture your imagination, go ahead and put it on your list.

Ayelet Waldman is a novelist and essayist who was formerly a lawyer. She is noted for her self-revelatory essays, and for her writing about the changing expectations of motherhood. Wikipedia  Waldman has written many stories some of which have been on the New York Times Best Seller List and have been made into movies.  She lives in Berkley, California with her partner Michael Chabon, the novelist and screenwriter, and their 4 children.

Ayelet Waldman  Online
Ayelet Waldman on Facebook

tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours sent me a copy of LOVE AND TREASURE to read and review.  It was definitely a pleasure to read this historic novel and to be able to share LOVE AND TREASURE with my readers.

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