Sunday, September 30, 2018

Once Upon a River

The storytelling element of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield sparked my imagination. Instead of snuggling in my bed reading, I was transported along the riverside, sitting by a bonfire, the chill permeating through my bones, yet leaning forward to catch every word of the storyteller’s voice. 

Oh, how the author spun this story into a web of intrigue! The characters were REAL, the scenery tangible, the mystery, heartache, love, life, death all twisted into the river somehow. 

A little girl, seemingly drowned and quite dead, regained consciousness … or is it some sort of magical intervention? The parentage of this mute child becomes the focus of the story, two families claiming her, but the other villagers are enthralling.

I closed this book with a sigh of regret because I wanted the story to continue.
I highly recommend this wonderful read.

complimentary copy of book from Netgalley

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

House of Gold

The Goldbaum dynasty, loosely based on the real-world Rothschild family, depicts what life was like for the privileged family during pre-WW1. Both male heirs and female family members have pre-destined lives. The men are expected to be bankers, and women must marry suitable men, (even first cousins to keep everything within the family!)  Other than arranged marriages, the women are expected to produce heirs to carry on the family name.

The main character, Greta begrudgingly marries her cousin, Albert. At first I felt sorry for her, but then came to realize Albert wasn’t so keen on marrying her either. Somehow, they grow to tolerate each other, and eventually a tender love begins to emerge. 

I adored the secondary character, Greta’s brother, Otto. His dedication and love for his sister is lovely. My heart broke when he went to war. I also grew to love Albert, and actually started to dislike Greta for the way she treated him. Later in the story, she redeems herself (in my eyes) by helping less fortunate woman, and showing more of her innermost thoughts with her husband.

The Goldbaum men deal with anti-Semitism, and all the banking issues involved with the brewing war. This part of the book dragged on for me. I felt there was way too much info-dumping. I really didn’t anticipate a history lesson, and found myself skimming through these dull parts. There was simply way too much telling and not enough showing in this aspect of the story. 

At times this story line jumped ahead and yanked me out of the story, and left me wondering if I missed something. (I did skim over boring financial discussions after all.) But after turning back the pages, I realized I didn’t miss anything to do with Greta’s self-growth. The story simply skipped an integral part of her life.  Did her ambivalence simply evaporate? When did they consummate the marriage? When was this child born? How did she feel about being pregnant? How did they reach that point in their relationship? Suddenly she was a loving mother and wife, without an inkling that she was pregnant. When did this take place? I, as a reader, felt cheated. I was left with many questions and a slew of disappointment. It was if a chapter or two was omitted. The character growth was suddenly plopped in my lap. My interest began to wane… and it never sparked again.

Copy of book compliments of NetGalley. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Love Letter

I really enjoy when a story includes two time eras. It’s like a buy one get one sale, and I love a bargain.

It was a little more difficult for me to connect with Esther and Hamilton (the Revolutionary War era) and I kept finding myself wanting to skip to the contemporary era with Jesse and Chloe’s story. Their stories involve the movie industry and overcoming upsets of the past, which carried more depth for me. 

The theme of forgiveness weighs heavy and reveals a powerful and freeing conclusion to both stories. 

I wanted a faster pace with the Historical side of the story, but overall, I enjoyed the book as a whole.

Book courtesy of Net Galley