Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Posts Tagged ‘history’

FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU: An American Boy in France ~ Thad Carhart

Monday, July 11th, 2016

“Long before mass tourism and globalization, France was simple, soulful, and every inch stimulating.  Carhart knew it all and shares this with us with the deftness and insight of a master storyteller.”  (Cover:  Leonard Pitt, author of WALKS THROUGH LOST PARIS)

FINDING FONTAINBEBLEAU is a beguiling memoir of post war France with loving stories about baguettes and penmanship learned with quill pens and black ink.  I enjoyed every page and every story in this book and was sad when I turned the last page.  At age 4, Carhart’s military family was moved from the Virginia suburbs to Fontainebleau, France.  The family celebrated their move with trips all over the countryside and discoveries while attending French schools.  With five children and a big old “woodie” Chevy station wagon they explored.  The author captures a great deal about French culture and habits.  It is a remarkable story.

The Nazi invasion truly made a difference to the hearts and minds of the French and the subtle protections on the individual levels are recorded in the stories.  PBS is doing a series on the importance of NATO and this story talks about the beginnings of those treaties.  War changes so much.
About the Author

The son of an air force officer, Thad Carhart grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C.; Fontainebleau, France; Minneapolis; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Tokyo. After graduating from Yale, he worked for the State Department as an interpreter. His first book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, appeared in 2000, published by Random House. Across the Endless River, a historical novel came out in 2009 with Doubleday. He lives in Paris. (AMAZON)

Thad Carhart Website
Thad Carhart Facebook
Thad Carhart Twitter

I was constantly thinking about who I wanted to share this book with and for what occasion.  Carhart has returned to France with his family as an adult and has been given tours by the architect who is refurbishing The Castle Fontainebleau.  The layers of tile, the roofing material, the commitment of the people of France to their historic sites and the damage done by millions of tourists as they visit is fascinating.  Then the stories of the Kings, Queens, Mistresses and how they changed the buildings and added on to the design, and how consistent and authentic the designs and repairs were to the original buildings – fascinating.

The author’s Mother and the recorded stories about the 5 siblings and their adjustments to a new house and country are loving and often humorous.  The word delightful just keeps coming to mind.

I just wrapped up my copy for the biking architect in my family as his birthday is tomorrow and he will so enjoy this story to the max.  It did make me want to visit France and particularly Fontainebleau.  I have been excitedly talking about the book at my book groups as even though it is a very different read, I think they will enjoy the look at the 50s and what it would be like to be transplanted, not knowing the language, as a child.

TLC Book Tours   sent this book to me for review and it is wonderful.

RELATED:
Bridge Ladies
Alice In Bed
The Rivals Of Versailles

THE FURY: A Thriller ~Shane Gericke

Monday, September 14th, 2015

I could not put this book down and there are two reasons why THE FURY held on to me for 8 hours straight.   The first reason the author says someone assisted him in changing the timing of his writing which made the book just zoom in reading speed and flow and the second was this e-book came to me via advanced reading copy and Dropbox and I could find no way to save the PDF file; I had already started reading and I just kept going until I was at the very end.  I was afraid the book would disappear and I had to download it each time I needed to leave the read and do something else.   The book was incredibly good and interesting and I do so love these powerful women who take charge and solve the crisis.

Reassured several times that this is a work of fiction and imagination, there are lots of historic moments in the book, which eventually all tie together and make a complete package.  We begin on an oil rig platform as it is rupturing and falling into the Gulf of Mexico.  The integration of ideas and events indicates the relatedness of current circumstances and how we arrived at such a dire circumstance today.   A real event that pulls the previous events into the story, as we see how greedy fossil fuel guys are losing power and money to the new wealthy and powerful (and violent) drug cartel folks.  The disregard for the environment, humans, governments, most of life is passed on from one group to another, which is vying for control, power and money.  The victims are everyone actually and so many are caught in the crossfire and explosions.  From oil rig explosion to Nazi Chemical Warfare and Japanese Chemical weapons developers, it is a big hurdle back in time and then a leap to the present.  Jump again and we are with the Border Patrol in Arizona attempting to stop a Taliban multi-million dollar drug shipment from arrival and disbursement in Mexico and the USA and the killing keeps going.

There are lots of true events referenced in this story, and it is so interesting how they relate to current events, habits and practices.   WWII comes back and forth and all the mistakes we made as a country when attempting to stop the war and get our own chemical weapons in order.  We hired some of the International experts in Chemical killings into our own program.  I am remembering our torture programs we perfected and were exposed in THE SHOCK DOCTRINE by Naomi Klein.  Several Presidents are mentioned and how their actions affected the whole current drug war and the human dependence on drugs today.  The gun programs which armed the drug cartels in Mexico (fast and furious) and the global knowledge of guerrilla warfare; how to control people and how to make money – greed.

The backstories are good and bring the characters into a fullness of possibility and believability.  I got hooked on the opening quote that was the definition of FURY from storm to a woman’s anger and reaction to that anger.   Wow it was right in my face from that moment on and it all hung together and related.  Superstition Davis was just an amazing character and so true to her part and once again a feisty mother took some action into her own hands to help and remedy a horrid situation.   Yes, I want to believe there are these kinds of powerful woman at work for our behalf.  I felt my own feelings of contempt for those who don’t know history, the ignorant and suffered the fools who ignored what was real.  THE FURY is powerful story telling and I was happy to finish it and let go.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for asking me to review THE FURY.   I admire these writers who can pull so many events together and still write an amazing story.  I think you will find it hard to put down – THE FURY

About the author

“Shane Gericke is an American novelist living in Naperville, Illinois. Before becoming a published thriller writer, he was a journalist, most recently at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1982 to 1994”

Shane Gericke Facebook 

Related:
The Contractors
The Shock Doctrine 
The Fixer 
Ryder 

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire ~ Gabriel Constans

Monday, December 15th, 2014

How do you handle Satire?   This is a very tongue in cheek lesson reference the arrival of Buddhism to China and one needs a keen wit and a good twinkle in the eye for these lessons, koans, and questions!  What a Zen Master to discover!

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA is Amazon Editor’s pick for Book of the Month and if you like satire you will not be disappointed by making this choice.

What the editors said on Amazon’s site:

“This fictional short-story collection challenges perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food, Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

“Enlightenment or laughs? With Gabriel Constans’ book you don’t have to choose. Zen masters usually have a sense of humor, or need one. Gabriel’s got it, and he gives us a world of illusions to laugh about.” Bob Fenster, author of Duh: The Stupid History of the Human Race “

Truly I am having difficulty writing this review, because I start to say something and then dive back into a story and get lost in laughing or crying over a concept explanation or questionable answer.  My Kindle says the book is about 2 hours of reading, but I dare you to read it cover to cover.   Why I just had to deal with my health insurance company and ended the call by picking up this book and learning about Wandering and Meditation by relentless napping.  I just think you should get this book and then do not drink anything while reading the chapters randomly.

Gabriel Constans biography on Amazon:

“Gabriel’s latest works of fiction are THE LAST CONCEPTION and ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: THE ILLUSTRIOUS AND DELUSIONAL ABBESS OF SATIRE. Previous fiction includes BUDDHA’S WIFE, SAINT CATHERINE’S BABY, THE SKIN OF LIONS, and JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY.

He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and journals throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; has 13 books published in the U.S. and continues to discover great stories, provide editing and consultation services and write fiction and non-fiction. His latest work of non-fiction is DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING: GRIEF’S WAKE UP CALL.

Dr. Constans has worked as a trauma counselor in a variety of situations and environments, most notably with local and international non-profit organizations such as hospice, the coroner’s office, hospitals, state prisons, the ROP Center for Street Children and the Ihangane Project (both in Rwanda).

His classes and books on grief, loss, hope and transformation, can be found at The Figley Institute and Quantum Continuing Education Online.

Gabriel’s favorite writers include Deena Metzger, Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Dave Eggers, Ann Petry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingslover, Joan Tewkesbury and James Bladwin.

Oh yes!  Constans sent me a copy of his book for review – Lucky me!

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed this book, I will return to re-read this book often, I so enjoy this kind of humor and I know you know someone who needs a great laugh and twinkly insight.

RELATED READING
The Last Conception
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death
The Garden Plot
US: A Novel 

THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS: a novel ~Dilly Court

Monday, September 2nd, 2013


1912-1917 are the years covered in THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS a novel which takes place in primarily London and a country home 4 hours from the city.  It is during this time period that the Suffragettes are demanding the vote, big estates are breaking apart and old money is moving away from traditional roles, and there are the rumblings of WWI.

Daisy’s father’s business partner bankrupts his business and the family is forced to move to their small country home and start again.  Gone the fancy dresses and vote rallies, parties and social life, gone are the servants and cooks, and gone are the now married chums into the arms of their husbands and family money.

What is a gal to do?   21 and nearly a spinster, wanting to have both worlds of enough money, important work to accomplish and never having tested her feelings, Daisy is now doing the marketing and cooking to keep her family going as they begin again.  Should she marry her childhood friend or look elsewhere; is life just from father to husband? What about the poor women who often have no choice at all?  Could there be more opportunities?

I liked THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS because it was the story of a young woman with lots of questions, searching and having good problem solving skills but also looking for new answers and results. Daisy just rolled up her sleeves and got the job done. The story was fast paced and although marriage and love were an important part of the story, they were not so limiting for Daisy’s choices.   Her younger sister actually benefitted from her explorations.

I especially liked learning about the First AID Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) And Dilly Court had obviously done some fine research on this core group of women who were integral during the War in France.   I loved reading about their training and fitness; how they learned to drive, ride horses, and shoot with accuracy.   They were vital to the War efforts and the story line here was outstanding.  I was reminded of the WWI story LETTERS FROM SKYE.  Lots of ambulance driving and close calls, luckily Daisy had a fur coat!

If you like the series Downton Abbey, I am certain you will like THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS.

As much as I like the flower daisy, I just could not think of the heroine as being a Daisy.  This character was presented as much more powerful and smarter that I could conjure up with the name Daisy; too light weight, simple, and happy to carry off this role.  In my simple search, I found that RUTH was one of the most popular names in 1913 England, now that is a more substantial woman.  Top 5 for 1891 when supposedly Daisy was born = Mary, Anna, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Emma. (Daisy was not even found on the top 100)

What name would you choose for a transition, questioning character?

In the post THE LADY’s MAID  also by Dilly Court, I wrote about her yellow Lab ARCHIE.  THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS is dedicated to Archie with a love poem.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s will receive a few blossoms in my bouquet!  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed

tlc logoI received a Kindle copy of this book from TLC online book tours and Random House Publishing in exchange for this review.   I am happy to share my thoughts about THE BEST OF DAUGHTERS.

Great British Reads is coming to the US! Dilly Court is one of their star authors.

Related Reading:
Walter’s Muse
Letters From SKYE 
The Paper Garden
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon