Saturday, November 7, 2009

War and Peace

I have read a few books about World Wars I and II lately, so I thought I'd put them all together in one big review. Enjoy!

Gifts of War, Mackenzie Ford
This book begins with the Christmas truce of 1914. A German officer and a British officer exchange gifts, and the German officer reveals that he has a girlfriend who he left behind in Britain. He asks the British officer to find her and let her know he's alive. When the British officer finds her, he falls in love and so begins his deception. The plot alone is interesting, but I enjoyed the look at British life during the war and the insight into how the Brits related to the Germans. There are also subplots into the birth of modern psychology and medicine. It's an excellent and nuanced read.

The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simmons
This is the tale of an unlikely romance in Leningrad during World War II. Tatiana, a young Russian girl, meets Alexander, a soldier in the Red Army, and they fall in love immediately. Their relationship is complicated by Tatiana's family, Alexander's secrets, and the world crumbling around them. I haven't read much about the siege of Leningrad and I learned a lot. Tatiana and Alexander are well written; at times I would be annoyed with them because they were so human and had faults. The Bronze Horseman is a long book that wraps you in its world and releases you only reluctantly at its close.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This was the first book chosen for my new book club and it was a great choice. The book is told all in letters written between the characters, a device I enjoyed as a child in Daddy Long Legs and more recently in Ella Minnow Pea. The novel is set on the island of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between Britain and France which was occupied by the Germans for five years. The Literary Society begins as an excuse for breaking curfew but grows to become an important part of the social fabric of the island, bringing together residents who would otherwise never have been friends. Although the book as a whole is upbeat, it does have sadder plots woven in. Erin is borrowing it next but feel free to get in line!

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