Some Girls Some Hats and Hitler By Trudi Kanter A beautiful, poetic memoir of a young gorgeous woman living in Vienna in 1938. Trudi is a stylish, sharp hat designer with her own successful boutique. She is in love with Walter and her intelligent, kind parents live nearby. They live an exciting yet simple life in a lively city that is filled with art and culture and romance. Through the eyes of this young woman we read of the destruction of this life, of this city and all Trudi knows and loves as Vienna is taken over by the Germans. The people of Vienna lose their freedom and livelihoods very quickly. Fear is instilled seemingly overnight. But Trudi is not in denial and she quickly uses her wit, her charm and her instincts to guide her family out of their beloved city. This is a unique memoir of a time when Trudi is recalling not only the terror but the details of her young life, love and passions. Trudi is amazed people are still wearing hats at a time such as this.
The Tea Rose By Jennifer Donnelly In the year 1888 Fiona Finnegan is 18 years old. She and her family live in Whitechapel, a town in the east end of London. Their lives are not easy, they struggle to make ends meet and sometimes don't have enough to eat, but their home is filled with love, support and dreams. Joe Bristow, Fiona's childhood sweetheart holds their tin that is filled with all their savings and all their hopes to someday have their very own shop. What sounds like a most simple story develops into a lengthy tale of love, trust, mystery, friendship and lots of tea. The reader holds on to the characters, both loveable and adventurous as it twists and turns through a decade of their lives. Although by the end the story is mostly predictable, the writing is easy and enjoyable and I highly recommend this novel. Note: It is lengthy, start when you have an ample amount of time!
Seating Arrangements By Maggie Shipstead A wedding weekend meticulously planned by the Van Meter family. No detail left unattended. But this is no ordinary wedding. Daphne and Greyson are to be married on the small vacation island of Waskeke. The one hitch of this perfect hitch is the rush before the baby is born. Daphne is pregnant. And in this world of perfect table settings and lots of cocktails her saving grace is that they are a perfect match and very much in love. The chaos that ensues around the happy couple are predictable and hilarious with the island celebration bringing the two families together. Throw in some beautiful bridesmaids, a father of the bride who openly lusts one of them, a groom with three brothers and a whale found dead on the beach and there is quite a party weekend to be had by all. Highly recommend this light, funny, easy read about social ladders, weddings and family. This author is terrific at character building. You feel like you know them from somewhere, maybe you do?
In the Shadow of the Banyan By Vaddey Ratner Raami is a 7 year old girl in 1975, when the Khmer Rouge revolted and took over Cambodia. The uprisings, massacres, violence, and starvation were ongoing for four years. Raami's family was torn apart. They lost everything, everyone and every way of life as they knew it. They had been a peaceful, spiritual, loving family and its these memories that keep Raami alive, believing and even when all odds are against her survival, holding on to a bit of hope. This novel, based on the authors own life history is moving and honest in ways very few people can describe. I was both on the edge of my seat wondering what the outcome would be and in tears as Raami has to accept things most adults, let alone a small child could endure. This novel and the writing are stupendous. I have learned and loved these characters and their story will always be in my heart.
Paris in Love By Eloisa James This memoir is the year Eloisa James, her husband Allesandro and 2 children stopped "merely existing" in a suburb of New Jersey, by taking a sabbatical and moving to Paris for one year of French living in one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is written almost as a diary, partially a blog as it occurred and I could not put it down. Paris in Love is a witty, loving, honest, funny, charming and delicious (oh, the foods they eat!!) adventure! Ms. James continues to write (when she is not eating at a scrumptious cafe), she explores the most unique museums large and small, and takes care of her family, all while learning the most important lesson of life, to LIVE it!! I give her an A+.