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GONE TO SOLDIERS: A Fiction Novel about WWII ~ Marge Piercy

Monday, April 25th, 2016

I discovered Marge Piercy the writer in the early 1990s.  GONE TO SOLDIERS was published in 1987 and I had already read GOING DOWN FAST, SMALL CHANGES, WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME,  FLY AWAY HOME, and HE, SHE, IT. The women I was in a support group with in New York City were praising Piercy’s work and we were sharing copies.  I enjoy her writing very much and her outlook.

After posting the review for HE, SHE, IT, an email* came in asking me if I would like to read GONE TO SOLDIERS for review.   I said yes I would like to read it, forgetting that I had read it first 30 years ago.  I just was so happy to read more of Piercy’s words.   The Kindle told me that at my reading speed it would take 32 hours and 30 minutes to get to the end.   I dove right into each chapter and hardly came up for air.  I am not incredibly fond of books about war.  This one is quite exceptional.  It took 7 years to write and perfect before it was published and winning so many awards.  I was so happy to read it once again.

The book has an interesting shape as 10 characters and their stories are highlighted throughout the book. Some have 14 chapters to their stories.  We begin before the start of the war in France and before the USA became involved.  WWII is over and recovery is beginning at the end of the story.  The primary theme is about being Jewish and how the Jewish experience of the war overlaps and touches so many lives.  I was amazed at how badly the USA Jews were treated and particularly by the Marine corp.  Some American Generals had no trouble with killing Jews in Europe and participated in the process. Each character was well defined and the connecting characters gave continuity to the story and kept the thread of the themes moving forward.

Extraordinary writing. So revealing about the hate we are seeing displayed even now in the USA, so much fear, and how working from that fear keeps us holding on and not moving forward.

Whenever the control is too great, there are scapegoats and then they are vilified and verbally derogated.  It was important for me to read this novel once again. I feel it with mature eyes.  There is more and more to the story; I become a witness.

I not only humbly give this book top stars and I feel as though it should be required reading in our schools today.   I highly recommend this story.

“Marge Piercy has written 17 novels including The New York Times Bestseller Gone To Soldiers; the National Bestsellers Braided Lives and The Longings of Women, and the classic Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It and most recently Sex Wars; ; 19 volumes of poetry including The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems 1980-2010, The Crooked Inheritance and in spring 2015, Made in Detroit; and a critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats. Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.“ (Header at website)

Marge Piercy’s Website and Bio

*Kindle book was sent by Greta Shull, Marketing Coordinator, Open Road Integrated Media, 180 Maiden Lane, suite 8A  New York, NY 10038

Related:
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PARIS TIME CAPSULE: A Little Romance Within a Real Life Mystery ~Ella Carey

Monday, September 28th, 2015

I was so ready for a romance read on the schedule and PARIS TIME CAPSULE did not disappoint.    I just gathered up my Kindle and headed to the deck umbrella for a lovely day of escape reading and staying cool in the unusual heat wave.   The city became still as folks left for a last holiday experience and to escape the heat before school starts here.  I traveled to Paris and enjoyed the adventures of CAT.

The story begins with the arrival of a mysterious package and the information that Cat has inherited an estate of a woman who lived in France.   This opens the story up to the true historic event that intrigued the author to write this novel.  In Paris, an apartment was found which had been locked up for 70 years and belonged to a French Courtesan in the 1840s up until World War II.  It was a time capsule of a lifestyle and a life and has revealed interesting secrets of its own.  The author found this to be a fascinating idea and a good foundation for her novel.

I found myself to be desiring a croissant and a glass of wine very soon into the story and the reports of the lovely food kept my mouthwatering.   Cat becomes engaged to a young man who is a member of the wealthy New York jet set and likes being in NYC close to his extended family.  Because Cat’s parents are deceased the family takes her under their wings and begins to make all the preparations for the parties and wedding.  Cat loses herself into the hustle and bustle of the expectations and yet still flies off to Paris to remedy the inheritance and to work on solving the mystery.

Enter dreamy, handsome French man and his family who have been left out of the will and their family’s inheritance.  Oo La La!   We have quite a story to tell now and yet the time capsule of the apartment and the mystery of the connections keeps us reading forward.

TLC Book Tours sent me the advanced reading copy of the book for review and apparently for a lovely afternoon escape.   I enjoyed the book and can recommend it to my readers as a delight – PARIS TIME CAPSULE

Ella Carey has been studying French since she was five and has degrees in music and art, and was a classical piano major in school.  Writing is her passion and this book was independently released in 2014 and rose to #10 on Amazon’s Indie selection during the year.  It is now being published by Lake Union Publishing and to be made into a motion picture.   She has been to Paris many times and is currently working on her second novel, walking the beach with her dogs and enjoying her life with two children.

Ella Carey Facebook 

PARIS TIME CAPSULE has gone to #1 on historic fiction!  And is free for Kindle Unlimited readers

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MIREILLE: New Steamy Summer Romance ~Molly Cochran

Monday, June 8th, 2015

“Near the end of World War II, seventeen-year-old Mireille de Jouarre flees the home of her stepfather, a Nazi collaborator and abusive drunk.  She finds shelter with her childhood friend Stefan, and the two fall deeply in love.  But as the fighting escalates, Mireille must escape alone to Paris, where she discovers she’s pregnant and lacking a way to provide for her child.”  (from cover)

The e-book of MIREILLE is free right now on Amazon and the paperback is extremely reasonable for a 638 page romance.   TLC Book Tours  sent me an uncorrected paperback copy for review and though hefty to get through it was an interesting read.

Though the story begins during the WWII days and all the problems of that time period and the Nazi invasion, we seem to quickly move into the world of high-class prostitution and survival needs.   MIREILLE become known as the The Angel and becomes one of the top escorts in Paris.   She and her friend Barbara are able to hire nanny service for the baby and keep it a secret.  The Life takes her to parties of the wealthy men from all over the world and the world of fashion and jewelry fuels the glamour.

At a weekend party in England MIREILLE meets an American Oliver Jordan, who is married to a very wealthy woman and is himself an incredible womanizer and film producer.   With some pathway distractions, MIREILLE signs a contract with Jordan and by 1962 is winning an Academy Award for her movie acting.  She is treated brutally by Jordan.

There is a great deal of blackmail in the story and sexual violence begins to be the overriding theme as MIREILLE tries to hide her prostitution from her daughter and others.

Her daughter is now in a Swiss school and her story becomes even more complicated by her older friend Nora.   An incredible sub story of mental illness and child abuse by more wealthy men

There was a redundancy to the writing, which made me so happy to finally reach the happier ending and the revealing of the hidden story.  I thought this book could have been made better 150 pages edited out.   I give a warning that if one is not into ugly sex and abuse, this book might not be the one for the beach this summer for you.  I do know that some of my readers really enjoy this kind of romance so I will not be too negative here.

About the author:

Molly Cochran is the author of more than twenty novels and nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Grandmaster, The Forever King, The Broken Sword, and The Temple Dogs, all co-written with Warren Murphy. She is also the author of The Third Magic, and she co-wrote the nonfiction bestseller Dressing Thin with Dale Goday. Cochran has received numerous awards, including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Romance Writers of America’s “Best Thriller” award, and an “Outstanding” classification by the New York Public Library. Recently she published a series of young adult novels, Legacy, Poison, and Seduction, and two novellas, Wishes and Revels. Legacy won a 2013 Westchester Fiction Award.

Visit Molly at her website, mollycochran.com.

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LA BELLE CRE’OLE: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris ~Alina Garcia Lapuerta

Monday, November 10th, 2014

“The phrase ‘creole’ often puzzles the modern reader.  Many think that creole or criolla (in Spanish) means a person of mixed race from the former slave-owning states or the Caribbean.  However, the word merely indicates that someone was born in a colony, generally of European descent.” (From the author’s notes)

LA BELLE CREOLE is a biography about Maria de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo.   She is a heroine to the people of Cuba, who was raised by her material Great Grandmother on the family plantations  where she had free reign in her comings and goings until she was reconnected with her parents at age 9 with her Father and 13 with her mother.   Mercedes lived many years in Paris and Madrid before returning to Havana in the 1840s.  She was born February 6, 1789 in Havana, her parents left for Europe a few months later.

Her father thought a convent would be the best situation for Mercedes, but that was not to be with this society girl and her big ideas.

I read an advanced PDF copy of the book which did not include pictures or cover; I thought I should share Amazon’s Book Description here so we would both know the cover words:

The adventurous woman nicknamed La Belle Créole is brought to life in this book through the full use of her memoirs, contemporary accounts, and her intimate letters. The fascinating María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as Mercedes, and later the Comtesse Merlin, was a Cuban-born aristocrat who was years ahead of her time as a writer, a socialite, a salon host, and a participant in the Cuban slavery debate. Raised in Cuba and shipped off to live with her socialite mother in Spain at the age of 13, Mercedes triumphed over the political chaos that blanketed Europe in the Napoleonic days, by charming aristocrats from all sides with her exotic beauty and singing voice. She married General Merlin in Napoleon’s army and discussed painting with Francisco de Goya. In Paris she hosted the city’s premier musical salon where Liszt, Rossini, and great divas of the day performed for Rothschilds, Balzac, and royalty. Celebrated as one of the greatest amateur sopranos of her day, Mercedes also achieved fame as a writer. Her memoirs and travel writings introduced European audiences to 19th-century Cuban society and contributed to the debate over slavery. Mercedes has recently been rediscovered as Cuba’s earliest female author and one who deserves a place in the canon of Latin American literature.

The early reviewers on Amazon have all given it 5 stars and written very positive reviews.  For those readers who love a biography this book is a “treat” and it is very well written.   The author went to Georgetown University and now resides in England and is also Cuban heritage.  I was thinking as I worked my way through the book, how much my mother would have loved this story and enjoyed the extensive family history and the stunning descriptive paragraphs all gleaned from the author’s extensive research.

About the Author 
Alina Garcia Lapuerta Facebook

The copy of this book was sent to me by Chicago Review Press  for review and I appreciated the opportunity.

LA BELLE CREOLE was a good read.   I was saddened to learn that my copy did not include the family tree which was at the back of the book.  I grew a bit weary of the long narratives about the family at the beginning – the begats.  Family intermarriage was a security issue to keep the rich, rich and I get exhausted by the private club this creates in the world.

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