The Girls in the Attic by Marius Gabriel

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Maggie’s father dies and friends and family of her mother encourage her to ask her mother about her past. When she does, Maggie learns of the struggles her mother (Lola) faced as a Jewish woman in Nazi-era Germany and the extreme odds she faced of survival when the Nazi’s literally came to the door in the form of the son of the woman hiding Lola and her sister, Heidi, in her attic.

 

If you look at the Amazon description of The Girls in the Attic, its the story of Max Wolffe. Max’s father was a minister who spoke out against Hitler and was taken away when Max was young. The official story is that his father died in prison and Max’s devotion to the protection of the motherland and master race came at the hands of a Nazi who took the boy under his wing when he was tortured everyday as a result of what he believed was his father’s treason. When Max returns home after having suffered a head injury at the Russian front for what he thinks will be a recovery break, he finds that his mother has concealed two young Jewish women in his home. The only thing keeping Max from going to local authorities to turn the women in is that he knows that his mother will also be taken into custody. 

Once you get a sense of the setting, The Girls in the Attic is actually goes exactly where readers will expect it to go. As Max gets to know the women they open his eyes to the atrocity of the War and their confidence that the Allies are coming moves his belief in the dominance of the Reich. Max starts to question his staunch views about Jewish people and his blind faith in the military expertise of Hitler. There are several navel gazing epiphanies from Max and Lola. 

As much as the book is billed as the story of Max, it’s really the story of Lola Rosenstein. Lola starts out, despite having been moved from home to home with her sister for their protection, a little recklessly angry. She hates Max and everything he stands for. Heidi is her voice of reason but the young woman is just angry. As time goes on, she becomes circumspect and once they start to move through war-torn Germany, a bit world weary. The idea of death as a rest is something we hear from many survivors and rang very true. That it is Lola telling the story, the omniscient look into Max’s thought process and private conversations between Heidi and Max’s mother, Magda, are a choice. While Max’s thought process and transitions may play as an excuse for the relationship that develops between Max and Lola (not a spoiler. ANYONE reading this book will expect it), it’s not something our narrator would know and that bothers me more than it should especially as she slips into first person in the epilogue. From Lola the epiphanies tend to be regarding the hearts of man and the lack of control in her own life. From Max, they are grand gestures toward a changing attitude toward people and generally the enemies of existence that serve to romanticize him. Considering that we’re seeing him from the memory of an old woman, it makes sense that she would remember him as he should have been.

Though quite predictable, the story is interesting and the characters engaging. As odd as it may sound, Lola starts as a bit of a reckless young woman. She was protected by her parents and then protected by Heidi and ultimately protected by Max. She has suffered living in the slums and she knows what her sister went through to keep her safe but as she grows in the sense of the novel, she becomes more circumspect understanding how lucky she’s been to survive.

I enjoyed The Girls in the Attic. I have seen the reviews that cite errors. There were errors but I did not find them distracting. The story was not of the quality that I’ll seek out other books by Gabriel but it was a good, solid read and one that makes some very good points. Pick it up and let me know what you think.

 

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The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Laura Lyons is a housewife in 1913 living with her family in an apartment in the New York Public Library where her husband is the superintendent. She enrolls in Columbia Journalism School and finds a new world outside of the library walls and her where women have their own identiy. When someone starts stealing rare books and her lifestyle is at risk, she has to make a choice.

Eighty years later, Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie, is hired as a curator at the New York Public Library. When rare books from an exhibit Sadie is setting up starts to go missing, Sadie starts to dig into the past and may not like what she finds.

 

Readers of my blog will know that I love historical fiction. I full expected to be fangirling in this review when starting the books. The mystery, varied timelines, New York Public Library tie, it sounds fascinating on paper. The paper on which it is fascinating is not the pages of this book. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is not the worst book I’ve ever read. It felt self-indulgent on the part of the author. Davis wanted this setting and timeline tie but the story and characters never really seemed to come together. This is the only book I’ve read by Fiona Davis so the rest of her books might be brilliant. Am I likely to find out? No. 

Continue reading The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Publication Date: January 15, 2021

Morag McGregor is sent to Scottish Court by her father in hopes that she will make a match or, at least, dampen her desire to get revenge on her neighbour, the Campbells. In a setting tense with religious and political strife will Morag sate her desire for revenge and return to her secret love who is waiting at home?

I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.

Highland Lioness is the fourth book in the Highland Ballad Series

 

I have not read any of the previous three books in the Highland Ballad Series and believe that this is the first book I’ve read by Kristin Gleeson and to be quite honest, I did not have high hopes for Highland Lioness in meeting Morag and she and her co-conspirators were lying in wait to sabotage the Campbell’s cattle. First impression was that she was going to be one of these borderline compulsive characters that would careen brainlessly from scrape to scrape until someone “tamed” her completely discounting the historical context of how dangerous a spirited woman might be Continue reading Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

 

Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. KeelsIn Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. Keels, Opal, to the outside world, seems to be happy, carefree and content with her spinsterhood. When she meets the Commander Exemplar of Diachona’s Army, a man who longs for his late wife, she feels an undeniable and yet hopeless attraction. The Exemplar is the first man she’s felt a pull within a long time, but he’s the father of the king. Opal has a dark secret. Is she destined to live her life alone?

Continue reading Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Publication Date: May 16, 2016

 

The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin, is the story of Helen Stein. Helen is a teenager ripped from her family and sent to Auschwitz and lives its horrors but also finds a kindness and selflessness in humanity that helped her survive against the odds.

Continue reading The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer Haven

Publication Date: September 10, 2017

 

Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer HavenIn Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer Haven, it’s 1929 and Silent Film Ingenue. Lottie Landry returns to the home of her adopted parents just outside of Chicago with her intended husband and frequent co-star, Noble Howard. Lottie isn’t sure about the engagement as her affections lie elsewhere. When things with Lottie don’t go his way, Noble threatens to expose what he believes has been going on between his lady love and her adopted father, media mogul Ransom Warne. Will it be a scandal or something more sinister that brings death to the household?    Continue reading Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer Haven

Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose

Publication Date: April 16, 2017

 

Arkansas Summer by Anne MooseIn Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose, it’s 1955 and Catherine is a college student. She travels from California to Arkansas to help her father sort out her grandmother’s situation in the wake of his father’s death. She reconnects with Jimmy, the son of her grandmother’s housekeeper and her favorite playmate as a young child. The attraction between them is strong, but the south is a dangerous place for a black man showing anything other than casual indifference to a white woman. Will their love survive the hate of those around them?    Continue reading Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose

The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Book) by Jerri Hines

Publication Date: July 26, 2016

 

The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Book) by Jerri HinesIn The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Book) by Jerri Hines, it’s 1780 and the Revolutionary War is raging. Sumner Meador has lost everything and pledges to do what he can for the patriot cause. When he arrives at his farm he finds Jane, a woman who has also suffered a devastating loss. Sumner doesn’t have time for distractions and Jane is determined to remain alone but despite their best efforts, love is in the air. Can their love survive the war? The Bastard Son is the second book in the Winds of Change series.    Continue reading The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Book) by Jerri Hines

To Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

 

To Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette MahurinTo Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin takes place in 1894 Captain Richard Dreyfus, a French Artillery Officer was convicted of treason for passing military secrets to the Germans. Dreyfus was sent to Devil’s Island in French Guiana to live out his sentence. When a few years later evidence that Dreyfus was innocent was discovered, the French military did everything they could to suppress the information. French journalist, Emile Zola, ran with the story of the gross injustice in the periodical J’Accuse and became a target of those looking to keep the story under wraps and Dreyfus incarcerated. To Live Out Loud is the story of this historic case and Zola’s coverage of it and the ultimate pursuit of justice at all costs.    Continue reading To Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Knoll: The Last JFK Conspiracist by Stephen Hillard

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

 

Knoll: The Last JFK Conspiracist by Stephen HillardIn Knoll: The Last JFK Conspiracist by Stephen Hillard, the lawyer Bus McIntyre digs into the past of his murdered father, he uncovers a dangerous secret. At the same time, a protege of Edward Snowdon discovers that a project purporting to look for new information in the assassination of JFK is actually identifying people with new information and eliminating them. Is Bus the next victim?    Continue reading Knoll: The Last JFK Conspiracist by Stephen Hillard