The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This is a powerful, painful, horrible and yet wonderful book. Does that sound confusing? I have to say I loved and hated the book simultaneously. Being a Brit we never really spent a whole lot of time studying the French people during WWII and the Nazi occupation therein. This book focuses on a family stuck in the middle of the war in France. This family comes with a whole set of different problems to start but don’t most of us have skeletons in our proverbial closets and things we’d rather not have to remember? Ms. Hannah covers the exodus out of the city of Paris after occupation begins with really good details without beating us to death. The horror of having to leave all you know with only what you can drag or carry to some unknown destination, family if you are lucky enough to have any in some country town, or friends who are yet unaware of what is going on. The occupation obviously doesn’t stop in the city and the entire country is taken over slowly but surely by hate and force.

Most of the men have gone to fight with the Allies so a lot of the story is about the women and children left behind. Even those who would never claim to be courageous have to step up and find the power within to survive. The humanity is what endeared me to the characters. They are just normal people, doing normal jobs and waiting for the end of the war when things can get back to what used to be normal. Nazi soldiers are billeted in civilian homes which I can only imagine how scary that would have been. To think that people were starving as their food was taken away to give to members of the Nazi party and their fighting forces. As you can imagine there are stories of people being taken away as they are Jewish or have Jewish sympathies – all told with the backdrop of children being left behind or friends and neighbours beaten if they try to stop the soldiers. Like I said it is a ghastly story but so powerful that we never forget.

There are only a few books that I have read that literally make me weep – The Notebook was one so beautifully written about enduring love (I still haven’t seen the movie version) and then another that comes to mind is the last Harry Potter book but those were tears of joy. The tears here were different as they mix joy with sadness especially at the end.

Sycamore Row By John Grisham

I never read ‘A Time to Kill’. It was published around the time I had at least one little girl at home and the beginning of the book made me quite ill. I rarely start and book without finishing it – so that one stands out in my mind. I never saw the movie either. The injustice of racial bias makes me feel quite useless – regardless of where it is coming from. I understand that slavery began way before us Brits made use of it. The Egyptians built pyramids using slaves. Thankfully throughout history there have been people who have literally risked their lives to try to end these practices. Continue reading “Sycamore Row By John Grisham”

Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno brings us many moral dilemmas. I have read Dante’s Inferno a few years ago and it isn’t a happy book – it isn’t meant to be. Brown uses the symbolism of that literature and paintings made afterwards as a background for this story. We see the same character, Professor Robert Langdon, who this time wakes up in a hospital bed not remembering how he got there. Continue reading “Inferno by Dan Brown”

A Week in Winter By Maeve Binchy

Talk about mixed emotions when reading this book! As a confirmed Binchy fan I was gobsmacked when the author died last year right after finishing this book. I wanted to savour the entire thing but one cannot do that when it comes to her books. You want to know what is going to happen with each and every character and so therefore whip through the thing as quickly as possible. There is nothing different here. The stories all circle around a small town on the west coast of Ireland, the families that live there, and the people who visit. This book covers many decades but lands in modern times so it is really easy to get stuck in and go with the flow of all the stories. Continue reading “A Week in Winter By Maeve Binchy”

The Inquisitor’s Key By Jefferson Bass

Only when I had read the whole book and then the slip cover did I realize that these books are collaboration between two men – their surnames being Jefferson and Bass. Not only a clever idea but a very catchy name too. One is a forensic anthropologist and the other a writer. They do a fabulous job together and the other thing I didn’t realize was that this is their seventh Body Farm book. I will now be going back and reading them from the beginning.

This novel is a story that takes place in the present but also the past. We go between the 14th Century as well as modern day. As you can imagine from the title, the Catholic Church is involved to quite a degree as well. Some bones have been found in France Continue reading “The Inquisitor’s Key By Jefferson Bass”