Genre: Fiction

Waiting on Wednesday for The Lake House by Kate Morton

Waiting on Wednesday for The Lake House by Kate MortonThe Lake House by Kate Morton
Published by Atria Books on October 22nd 2015
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Historical
Goodreads

The beguiling new novel from Kate Morton; the number one bestselling author of The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper. An abandoned house... After a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police and retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. There she finds herself at a loose end, until one day she stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace. A missing child... June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. For Eleanor, the annual party has always been one of her treasured traditions, but her middle daughter, Alice, sixteen years old and with literary ambitions, is especially excited. Not only has Alice worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night sky, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great they leave Loeanneth and never return. An unsolved mystery... Seventy years later, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past and seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape...

Cornwall. A Detective Novelist. An Unsolved Mystery. A Romance.

Need I say more? These are just a few of the elements purported to be in the upcoming Kate Morton novel!! Yes, that’s right–I did say KATE MORTON!

Do I have any The House at Riverton fans?? The Distant Hours? The Secret Keeper?

You can bet that when fellow Kate Morton friends, including Lindsey, Alyssa, Morgan, Laura, and Jess, and I found out about the new Kate Morton and saw its cover, we freaked out just a bit.

group dance

You guys. This is big. Kate Morton has a new book coming out in October!!! And it’s called The Lake House!!

yes am excited

The first time I encountered Kate Morton was through a paperback copy of The House at Riverton I picked up at Target before going on vacation. Wow–was that a lucky pick! I discovered that I adored Kate Morton’s style, and was soon buying all subsequent titles that she wrote. She’s Australian but many of her books are set in England, one of my favorite places in the world!

I get swept up in her books–I love the DRAMA, THE ROMANCE, THE SECRETS, THE MYSTERY, THE ENGLISH LANDSCAPES. I LOVE IT ALL!

And don’t you think Atria designs the most gorgeous covers for Morton’s books?

Just look at them!

the house at riverton distant hours secret keeper

What are you waiting on Wednesday for this week? If you’re not a Kate Morton fan, do you think you might pick up one of her books? Which one?

Did I tell you I was excited about the new Kate Morton book?!?!?

excited 2

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, in which we share those upcoming releases we are most excited about!

What Katie Read

Historical Fiction Review: The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin Hannah

Historical Fiction Review: The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin HannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 448
Goodreads
five-stars

FRANCE, 1939: In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne's home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive. Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Illuminations:

If you’re reading this, then the very next thing you do after you finish this post is to go immediately and secure of copy of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah!

TRUST ME.

This book is THAT GOOD. I haven’t read a book in awhile that has touched me quite like this one has—the last one might have been Code Name Verity. This is an amazing, heartbreaking, moving, and powerful story set during a time in our history that changed the world in so many ways…and revealed the courage and bravery of so many people. It’s been awhile since I cried over a book like The Nightingale. If a book makes me laugh, that’s good, but if a book can make me cry, then it’s usually REALLY GOOD. And I would have to say that Kristin Hannah’s newest book really is superb, in my book at least.

This is a book to get excited about.

group excited

One aspect of this novel concerns how women (in the Resistance and outside of it) risked their lives and the lives of their families through their simple and courageous acts of bravery and love to save others during World War II. Relationships are tested, and the women in this book have to make huge sacrifices in the face of war. They are faced with the possibility of people they love being shipped away or worse, and they are prepared to take these steps of sacrifice.

Love, family, heartbreak, and war—it’s not surprising that all these elements fit into this novel, but it’s their treatment that, to me, was particularly well-executed.

The book opens in 1939, in France, but a few chapters shift all the way into 1995. The reader isn’t told the perspective of the character in the 1995 chapters, so nothing is really given away there. The events of the book continue to the end of the war, and finally, jump forward to 1995 again.

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

Spiritual Illuminations:

Vianne’s Love & Sacrifice for Children: Vianne doesn’t just love and care for her own children—she risks her life to shelter the children of others who are Jewish, so that they might have a chance at survival. Vivian is different than her sister, Isabelle, but that doesn’t mean she is any less brave or courageous. She fights her own war, and this makes all the difference for certain families. (But no spoilers here!) I definitely saw this as a spiritual aspect of the story, because Vianne really had to move into selflessness (as many people did during WWII) in order to save and protect those around her. In this way, I think the spirituality of her character is revealed.

The Family Dynamic: In addition to depicting the relationship between Vianne and Isabelle, the book also introduces us to the girls’ father—largely absent during their childhood after their mother died. However, the war is surprising in the way it can either bring families together or tear them apart. I appreciated the depiction of the father and daughters throughout the book—it’s not a perfect situation, and all three family members have their flaws, but love is the stronger force. What happens among the three family members took me by surprise. I started the story, having a particular conception of the girls’ father, but my perspective of his character evolved throughout the narrative and was quite different by the end. In this way, I think Hannah successfully fleshed out multiple characters about whom I cared a lot.

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

Who Should Read This Book:

If you are an avid reader of WWII fiction, then by all means, make sure this book is on your shelf. I had no idea how much I would love this book. I had an inkling I would like it, but I wasn’t prepared by its ability to grip and move me.

If you are a historical fiction fan, I think this story would be one you want to check out. Fans of Kristin Hannah will probably all flock to The Nightingale, but even though I had read one of her books before, this one took on an entirely different status for me because it is historical fiction set during WWII.

I don’t usually bring up Goodreads Stats, but, people, this book has an average 4.53 rating with 13,192 ratings. So!

The Final Illumination:

“Love. It was the beginning and end of everything, the foundation and the ceiling and the air in between.”

At 440 pages, I wouldn’t have minded if this novel had continued on. It was stunning. Marvelous. Luminous. Moving. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. Beautiful.

This reminded me of Code Name Verity and also Rose Under Fire, both by Elizabeth Wein. Some aspects of it made me think about Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman, and I couldn’t help but remember one of my other favorite WWII historical novels, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.

And I hope you will host it on your bookshelf and see for yourself.

Did you read The Nightingale? Are you planning to?!? No pressure here….

 

five-stars
What Katie Read

Bookish Illumination: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (2015) by Rachel Joyce

Bookish Illumination: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (2015) by Rachel JoyceThe Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold's cross-country journey. A runaway international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed its unassuming hero on an incredible journey as he traveled the length of England on foot--a journey spurred by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, writing from a hospice to say goodbye. Harold believed that as long as he kept walking, Queenie would live. What he didn't know was that his decision to walk had caused her both alarm and fear. How could she wait? What would she say? Forced to confront the past, Queenie realizes she must write again.   In this poignant parallel story to Harold's saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy's voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold's; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths--about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.   A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person's life.

Illuminations of Spirituality:

Was I ever delighted to discover that Rachel Joyce was writing a companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye! If you read my review of that one, you know that I read this book last fall for the first time. I picked up a copy in London and fell in love with the story and with its characters. A man who decides to walk the length of England to visit a dying friend? At first it may not sound all that exciting, but it was such a beautiful and moving story, filled with ordinary encounters hiding the extraordinary.

Knowing I would be able to return to a world with Harold Frye and Queenie Hennessy, but this time with more of Queenie’s story made my world get just a little brighter! The story takes place at the SAME TIME as the other book. It just focuses on Queenie’s perspective instead of Harold’s.

I am starting again, I thought. Because that is what you do when you reach the last stop. You make a new beginning.

Like Harold Frye, this novel really highlights the importance of looking beyond appearances and recognizing that people are complex individuals who deserve respect and connection. We are all striving to connect with each other, and I think that both of Joyce’s books effectively depict characters who need that kind of connection. These characters become willing to reach out so these connections form with others.

Long ago Harold said to me:

“There are so many things we don’t see.”

What do you mean? I asked. My heart gave a flip.

“Things that are right in front of us,” you said.

There’s no sugar coating how difficult life can be in this story. Queenie is a flawed and broken woman, but she’s honest about that, and through flashbacks, the story illuminates different points in her life that give insight into the woman she has become.

The place was a part of me in the same way that the past was a part of me and you were a part of me and so were my bones.

Not only does the book illuminate matters of the heart in a way that speaks to me of the book’s spirituality, the story also highlights an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. This is revealed through Queenie’s sea garden, and her memories of the garden represent a significant part of the book, for it gives further insight into who Queenie is. She’s experienced Beauty, but beauty can reach us in different ways.

Every once in awhile you have to stop in your tracks and admire the view, a small cloud and a tree outside your window. You have to see what you did not see before. And then you have to sleep.

The last thing I wanted to mention about this book’s spiritual aspects is the notion of forgiving yourself. Queenie has to come to terms with some events in her life, and one key question for her is whether she can forgive herself for something from her past. It is with the help of others and through her own writing that Queenie begins this journey towards forgiveness. In case you haven’t read the book, I won’t say anything more.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you enjoyed Harold Frye, you will appreciate this story. But, even if you didn’t read Joyce’s other book, I would still recommend this one to you if you’re in the mood for a moving and beautiful story about broken individuals striving for connection and love in the world.

I can honestly say that this book brought tears (like Harold Frye) but it was a good kind of tears. You will know this if you read Harold Frye, but Queenie does have cancer and is living with other people with terminal illnesses in the book. But it’s definitely not a depressing story–Trust me!

The Final Illumination:

I approached this book with some particular ideas about what Queenie would be revealing and who she had been in love with. I actually was quite surprised by what I discovered, and I appreciated that element of surprise. I may have even enjoyed this companion novel to Harold Frye even more, because we don’t get much of Queenie’s perspective in the other book. And that’s ok, because it is Harold’s book and his pilgrimage. This is another fabulous book club book, like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye.

“People think you have to walk to go on a journey. But you don’t, you see. You can lie in bed and make a journey too…”

I wish I had someone else to chat with about this book, so if you read it (or are reading it) do comment below or tweet me your thoughts!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley and this in no way affected my review.

four-half-stars
What Katie Read
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