SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana De Rosnay

SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana De Rosnay, 2007. This is a haunting novel of a small Jewish family in Paris, France. It starts out in July 1942 when 10 year old Sarah is brutally arrested with her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup. But Sarah has locked her 4 year old brother in their favorite hiding place and kept the key, thinking she will return soon. That is a very sad beginning.

This is also the story of Julia Jarmond an American journalist working in Paris, who is assigned to report on Vel’ d’Hiv’s sixtieth anniversary. While she’s investigating she stumbles upon a trail of family secrets that connects her to Sarah.

I don’t know why am attracted to Holocaust stories, perhaps I was Jewish in a past life and lived through the horrible times. This is the first novel I’ve read, that’s not based on a personal Holocaust story, although I’m sure some of it’s based on facts, the character’s are not real.

So far each short chapter goes from Sarah’s past life, then to Julia’s present life. So you get the stories pieced together slowly as they meld together. . Maybe that makes the horror of it less hard to take?

The ART of HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker

The ART of HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker, 2006. Translated from the German by Kevin Wiliarty.  This book is a Target Club Pick book.

This is the story of Julia Win whose father disappears one day, much to the shock and confusion of his family. Later they find a love letter he’d written many years ago to a Burmese woman. Julia took it upon herself to solve the mystery about her father’s mysterious past. So she leaves her budding legal career on hold to travel to Burma.  In the small mountain village of Kalaw she is approached  by a man who knows who she is, and was even expecting her the past four years when her father disappeared. The old man met Julia on her first day in the village, where he began to tell her about her father’s life. They keep meeting every afternoon when he tells her the fascinating story of her father’s life, including his romance with a local girl. I imagine the story will be very interesting to read.

NOTE: This is a good book, I’m enjoying it a lot!

GROWING UP by Russell Baker

GROWING UP by Russell Baker, 1982. Russell Baker grew up between the two World Wars in the backwoods mountains of Virginia, in a New Jersey commuter town, and finally in the depression-shadowed urban landscape of Baltimore.  I hope this is a good book, I only have 3 left in my unread pile. I don’t usually read autobiographies, as I find them boring at some point. Maybe this one will be different.

NOTE: I’m not reading this book after all. I’m just not in the mood for it.

MISS. JULIA SPEAKS HER MIND by Ann B. Ross

MISS. JULIA SPEAKS HER MIND by Ann B. Ross, 2000. This book is a little “Old” for me.. the main character is old.. much older than me even, probably about 65-70 years old. So does the title sound like Miss Julia is Southern? Well she alright! Her husband of 44 years died of a heart attack in his car as soon as he pulled into the garage. Now she’s a wealthy widow and as she’s trying to adjust to being a widow she gets a knock on her door. A young woman named Hazel Marie Puckett and a small boy are standing there at her door. Hazel then informs Julia that the little boy names Wesley Loyd Junior Springer is her husband’s bastard child. (I don’t really like that word, do you?) Then she tells Julia she’s leaving the child with her so she can go to beauty school in Raleigh. Here’s a teaser:

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said, hefting up the strap of her shoulder bag. I could see the sheen of perspiration oozing out from under her makeup as she took a deep breath and let the words pour out. “I wouldn’t do this if I could come up with anything else. But I can’t, and he didn’t leave me no choice, and I got to make a livin’. You know how it is: well maybe not. But I’m on my way to beauty school down in Raleigh. Learning nails? You know, acrylic and all? There’s money in nails, and I don’t know what else to do.”

NOTE: Well now, it does sound kind of interesting what a childless 65-year-old widow will do in this situation. I am enjoying the book for now.

I must admit the plot thickens now that I’m half way through the book…almost a low-key suspense novel.

THE SEARCH FOR JOYFUL by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

THE SEARCH FOR JOYFUL by Benedict and Nancy Freedman, 2002. Remember the book MRS. MIKE which you may have read many years ago? Well this is the sequel to it. In the story Mrs Mike the main character Katherine Flannigan grew up in Boston and traveled to Canada where she met her husband Mike Flannigan a Canadian Mountie. She has enjoyed a special friendship with a beautiful Cree woman named Oh-Be-Joyful, who helps care for her children.  When her dear friend dies in an influenza epidemic Katherine and her husband open their hearts and home to Oh-Be-Joyful’s orphaned daughter Kathy Forquet.

The sequel is the story of young Kathy’s life in the Flannigan family and how she grew up with prejudice and grew up during the threat of WWII, during which she traveled to Montreal to train to be a nurse. Later she meets two men who are important to her. One is a Native American who teaches her about her lost heritage and the other is a wounded Austrian soldier who touches her mind and heart. Which one will she marry?

NOTE: I remember how much I enjoyed Mrs Mike, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this book also.

NOTE: Although I found the war scenes boring, I really enjoyed this book!

THE APPLE ORCHARD by Susan Wiggs

THE APPLE ORCHARD by Susan Wiggs, 2013. This book contains apple recipes! three recipes are posted in the front of the book, and one Baked Hot Chocolate recipe in the back. You gotta love it! Since I love to cook and bake I love it when a book has recipes on the food consumed in the story!

The prologue of the story starts out in the Sonoma County, California apple orchard where an 80 year old man is picking apples, he receives a phone call from a old woman friend named Annelise telling him it’s time to fess up on a longtime family secret. The last short paragraph describes his fall from the ladder.

29 year old Tess Delaney makes a living restoring stolen treasures to their rightful owners. Then she informs the client the value of the item and often suggests they sell it to the auction house she works for.  In the first chapter Tess is in the very same Annelise’s apartment returning a family heirloom necklace she found among a stolen Nazi hoard of items. Of course there is some connection between the three people. Later on Tess inherits is shocked to find she inherited half of The Apple Orchard in a town named Archangel from a grandfather she never knew she had. She shares ownership with a half sister named Isabel Johansen she never knew existed.

NOTE: This sounds like a nice story to read, I’m enjoying the story very much so far. Highly Recommended.

THE BEACH TREES by Karen White

THE BEACH TREES by Karen White, 2011. White is a bestselling author of ON FOLLY BEACH, which I never read, but I did read her book THE MEMORY OF WATER. This summary is largely taken from the blurb on the back of the trade paperback book.

This is the story of Julie Holt. When she was twelve years old her younger sister disappeared from their backyard in Massachusetts , never to be found. After that her family grew apart, although her mother never gave up looking for her missing child. When her mother passed away Julie took up the search and hoped to find her one day. Julie has a love for art she inherited from the great-grandfather who was a great painter.

Now that Julie is grown she’s working in an auction house in New York City where she meets a woman named Monica Guidry a struggling artist and single mother with a stange accent of sometimes mispronounced words that’s neither Southern or Northern, who reminds her very much of her little sister, so she is drawn to her and feels protective of her. Monica paints a vivid picture of her Southern family, but never says why she has no contact with them. She also reveals she has a secret heart condition that will soon take her life.

Feeling as if she lost her sister a second time, Julie inherits from Monica a valuable portrait as well as custody of Monica’s young son. The portrait is of a prominent member of the Guidry family that happened to be painted by Julie’s great-grandfather and it unlocks a surprising family history.

NOTE:  Since I am also an artist I find this book interesting, I’ll have to let you know what I think.