Book Club Picks
If participants of a Bookloft Book Club really liked a book, we have them fill out a review card for it! Here's where you can find all those non-employee readers' reviews.
Title: The World That We Knew
Comments: Wow, I did NOT expect this book to be so, so… fantastic. I have not read Ms Hoffman’s prior works and did not know what to expect. I have read a lot of WW2 books this year, many about the Holocaust. Maybe all the anniversaries of disasters and war markers have been a great impetus to push this along by strides.
Me… the jotter here? I confess, I love science fiction, preferably the “hard” kind. After that, I relish historical fiction, as there are always great stories there, even pieces written as modern tales in their time, such as Edith Wharton’s books. I love family stories and heart-warmers too. But mostly I love dreams. I revere Philip K. Dick. He is known to have said for us readers to “suspend disbelief”. Dreams and nightmares are welcome in books I read, and I easily suspend disbelief, and just “go there”.
The World That We Knew starts off as Historical Fiction (Berlin, 1941), as Jewish citizens, homeowners, children, “new” criminals and other characters quickly engage us within their horrific settings, the characters slowly coming ‘round to a center (of sorts) at the end. The story allowed me to maybe see how such desperate characters in this terrible nightmare got themselves through it. Yes, I have read The Tin Drum and other tales. This is a little off that bio-genre but still as strong. The main characters were mostly women in all stages of despair and dodging traps. They generally press on, using cunning and tricks to live and keep moving. We all tell ourselves WE would do that, right? You will not be able to put this book away, BUT, you will occasionally have to “suspend disbelief.” So, breathe, close your eyes, and then keep reading.
Ms. Hoffman has proven, apparently very well, that her unique imagination is appreciated by millions of readers. But I didn’t know that, and I was so thrilled to partake in her writing style, her story, and what I could call “dreams”. Don’t miss this book.
Title: American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt
Comments: What a magnificent story! It was slow to start, but once it got rolling, it was an intriguing read. I enjoyed this inside look at the social and political trials of a Gilded Age heiress who was sold off for an English title.
Title: The Darwin Affair
Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I expect it to be the first in a series dealing with Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field. This is Dickensian England at its best and worst. Pre Jack the Ripper, but a pretty bloody series of murders take place. The main character and his family are well defined so that you have an affinity toward them. I am sure we will see more of them. A lot of the ancillary characters are well drawn and there is an interesting take on real historical characters. Darwin, in particular. Dickens makes an appearance and is important to the Detective. If you are a fan of historic detective stories I am sure you will enjoy this. Make a note of the author and expect to see more in the future by him.
Patron: Zoe F. (age 13)
Title: City of Girls
Comments: CIty of Girls is set in the 1940's and told from the perspective of 19 year old Vivian Morris. Vivian has recently been kicked out of college, much to her parents dismay. She wasn't kicked out because she wasn't clever enough to be there, it simply did not interest her. Vivian's real passion is making clothes. She learned when she was young from her eccentric Aunt Peggy. After Vivian is kick out, her parents (or more her mother), wisks her off to live in New York with her aunt. What I like about this book is that Vivian is unapologetic and knows what she wants and is not ashamed to get it herself. I also enjoyed the detail that is used to describe each scene. It is almost magical.
Title: In Another Time
Comments: "I thought it was entertaining... a period piece on the rise of fascism."
Patron: Chris S.
Title: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Comments: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell shares a story that you won't believe you've never heard before. The book tells the remarkable life and career of Virginia Hall, one of the most effective and consequential spies of the 20th century. In spite of being overlooked and passed over for government jobs as a woman, injured in a hunting accident and losing a leg, and facing the apparently insurmountable obstacles of Vichy France, the Nazis' Gestapo, and the penetration of her initial organization in France by a double agent, Hall materially helps the Allied invasion on D-Day and makes victory possible in Europe. This is the sort of story that should have been a best-selling book and blockbuster movie long before now. Highly recommended.
Title: The Summer Country
Comments: Smart, historically rich novel that has a fast pace. There are elements of mystery and questions unanswered at the beginning that led me to constantly imagine possible outcomes that rarely came to be. Includes social commentary! Romance! Old-timey medical procedures!
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Comments: Frothy and light, at the outset, the Montauk of 1938 felt like a reprieve from the drama of 2019. I enjoyed escaping the winter cold to read about sun and beaches. A more serious tone of class distinctions and slights between the vacationing summer city folk and the locals is never far from the surface, however. Beatrice, the protagonist, finds herself caught between her New York City social sphere and the more comfortable world of the local fishing village. As the prospect of a luxurious vacation turns to a very different reality, she is forced to see her husband with new eyes and finds new happiness and solace in the arms of an unlikely companion. As the summer comes to a close, their hoped-for bright summer literally darkens and a storm threatens to tear lives apart.