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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.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series
Little Failure 

BREATHE: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict ~Kelly Kittel

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat writes that there’s a group of people who carry the sky on their heads.  They are the People of Creation.  Strong, tall, and mighty people who can bear anything. Their maker gives them the sky to carry because they are so strong.  These people do not know who they are, but if you see a lot of trouble in your life, it is because you were chosen to carry part of the sky on your head.  We understood this burden, but frankly, my chunk of sky was giving me a headache.”  Page 340

BREATHE is a story about healing, understanding, revealing, forgiveness, and all the junk swishing around in extended family dynamics and conflict.  I am told that the most healing process one can undertake is to tell your story, understand the lessons, and allow other people to see that there are transitions and possibilities.  The story needs time to mull and ferment to make sure it includes the truth the writer knows to be real and not just reaction and emotion.  Kelly Kittel took her time, and numerous workshops, and lots of counseling and it took her another seven years to actually write the book.  She did not do it alone and she thanks so many for helping her hold her piece of the sky.

The story line is thus: 2 people are starting their journey in the Peace Corp; one from the East Coast of the USA and one from the West Coast of the USA.  They fall in love, are happy together and they are celebrating their family; enjoying their 4 children.  They are living on a street in Oregon which is dominated by the husband’s family and they are not so fond of the Eastern Interloper who is a scientist.   Much of the huge extended family is gathered at the Oregon Coast when the 16 year old niece backs a Chevy Tahoe over the 15 month old child who she cannot see.  It is a harrowing accident with helicopter airlifts and drama. It creates huge family tension and brings the blame game out into the open; the author becomes an unfit mother.   Noah is gone and buried and the family grieves and works on counseling and keeping the remaining 3 children growing and loving. The in-laws keep acting up and out.  Kelly becomes pregnant and has high blood pressure problems and too soon Jonah is stillborn.  The grief is magnified and the support groups continue and the family works on their own healing.  The in-laws evict the family and they move back to the East coast nearer Kelly’s family.  Once again the author is pregnant and miscarries.  The emotional stress is elevated and they are caring for each other, and the family is enjoying being a single unit of love and support.  Another pregnancy and Kelly finds a High Risk Pregnancy Expert, who says Jonah did not need to die, her medical records indicate negligence. New medications and better timing and test results- care – and Isaiah is born and doing fine.  The family decides to prepare a lawsuit against the Physician and Midwife Clinic in Oregon – a five year endurance test.  The in-laws testify against the family and yet the jury decides for the family.   Bella was born after the lawsuit and the family is complete.  Lots of love, communications, forgiveness and breathing are between the covers of this story about conflicts.

The writing is full of details, emotions, and water. The writing is beautiful-memorable.  The author is not tepid or angry about her experience.  She is working it through and finding her own answers and recovery.  She is not vindictive.  It is also a study in how family communications get misconstrued and can develop a pecking order which stops being useful and cuts off any growth.  When one cannot communicate with others, there is no bond, responsibility is sidestepped and the only pathway open is to BREATHE and separate.

This book touched me personally, as I share life with a child who had 12 major surgeries and my own life full of healthcare that was not workable and no insurance; maybe we all have family members who want to control and make our lives a competition; it was good to see it from another angle and so graciously stated.

tlc logoTLC Online Book Tours   and She Writes Press shared a finished signed copy of this book for me to review.  I know you know someone who would benefit from reading – BREATHE

Kelly Kittel’s Blog
Kelly Kittel’s on Facebook

So Far Away
Little Island
The Fault In Our Stars
Wild- Plate  (We need more comments on this one for the Giveaway!)

LITTLE ISLAND: A novel ~Katharine Britton

Monday, May 26th, 2014

“How many of us live lives driven by rules and assumptions that we never test?  I stood a moment, watching the tide slip out through the channel, feeling a new sense of freedom and an understanding that we are only as stuck as we allow ourselves to be.”   Joy Little

The Little family is gathering at the family’s Inn for a memorial service for their maternal grandmother.  LITTLE ISLAND is a story about that Inn, the family which has been there for generations, and of the people who are connected to this family.  The family Inn is connected to the mainland of Maine by a causeway and the family has to be fully aware of the tides and the rules of nature. The Little family has experienced loss, a major tragedy and they have a wealth of secrets which keep them holding on to old assumptions and communications.

Joy is the narrator of LITTLE ISLAND and we see the family through her eyes and thinking.  She is the second born child, but holds the role as the oldest because baby Abigail died.  Joy’s partner is not at the weekend event because he is driving their only child to college.  She has an emptiness and is attempting to fill in the gap and tackle her sense of loss.  This weekend is also the 20th anniversary of a drunken driving accident which killed Joy’s best friend.  The family rarely talks about this event, though it is part of every moment of their lives.

Tamar and Roger are the twins and in LITTLE ISLAND twins are a big part of the story.  Roger is not married and has no children, but he is hoping his father will consider him “grown up” enough to take over the Inn for the family legacy.  Tamar is a lawyer who brings her twin daughters to the weekend without her husband so she can prove that she is a good mother. The reader can sense that divorce will be a part of her future.  She is hoping that Joy will take charge of the twins and provide childcare so that she can just be herself and not be responsible.  Tamar adores Roger and wants all his time; to be as close as they were as children.

Gar Little is the owner of the Inn and part of that family tree and he is busy keeping the family involved in traditions at the Inn and all the property issues that need repair and he wants his family to carry on the Inn’s legacy – his work is very physical and demanding.  Grace, the wife and mother, does a great deal of cooking and childcare while trying to figure out her mother’s wishes for a memorial service from a rather cryptic, short list she found.  Grace takes us on several memorable hikes, sharing the beauty of the island and her love of her home.

The writing is very beautiful and the capture of emotions and conversations are wonderful. I loved the moments of humor that the family shared.  The family peeled back the layers in short, little bursts and they did not yell or hit with their angers. Lots of good thinking and actions were part of the story. When there proved to be enough little reveals, they just stopped hiding and let go of the secret; it took a big event to pull them back together. LITTLE ISLAND provided the catalyst for discovery and resolution.  Each character was ready to let go and move forward.

tlc logo  TLC Online book tours sent me this book for review.  The writing was so thoughtful, hopeful, and I just held onto the story – I am sure I will want to read this book again – LITTLE ISLAND.

There is a reader’s guide for book groups included with this story.

The author lives in Vermont and teaches at the Institute of Lifelong Education at Dartmouth College.
Katharine Britton Online
Katherine Britton on Facebook

The Moon Sisters
My Mother’s Funeral
In The Land of the Living