Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
During WWI in the trenches of the Somme, five wounded French soldiers are reported “killed in the line of duty.” Mathilde, fiancée of Manech, one of the five, does not accept the official report, and in her attempt to reconstruct the days leading up to Manech’s reported death, she discovers things are not quite what they seem.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is the stunning fictionalized account of the real-life 1843 double murder of Thomas Kinnear and his mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Accused in the murders are two of Kinnear’s servants, James McDermott, a stable hand, and sixteen year old Grace Marks, a maid.
In Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie two young boys, the narrator age 17, and his best friend, Luo, age 18, are sent to a remote village in the mountainous Szechuan region of China in the 1970’s as part of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution of China vilified intellectuals. Schools were closed and many of the educated-class were imprisioned or sent to live in the country for hard manual labor and re-education by the peasant-class. The two exiled friends meet the Little Seamstress, a young illiterate peasant girl, and, ironically, discover a secret cache of Western literature, which has a profound affect on both boys and the Little Seamstress.
Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the twentieth century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, bestselling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières takes place on the Greek isle of Cephalonia under German and Italian occupation during Word War II.
The jovial Italian Captain Antonio Corelli is quartered with Dr. Iannis and his daughter Pelagia. Despite the fact that Captain Corelli is Italian and considered the enemy, his love of life, his kind joyful spirit, and his gifted ability on the mandolin, all work to win Pelagia’s heart.
The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.
“In Korea in those days, newborn girls were not deemed important enough to be graced with formal names, but were instead given nicknames, which often reflected the parents’ feelings on the birth of a daughter: I knew a girl named Anger, and another called Pity. As for me, my parents named me Regret.”
The Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown, is the hotel at the corner of bitter and sweet. In 1986, Henry Lee hears that the belongings of 37 Japanese families interned during WWII are found in the basement of the Panama Hotel. This event sends Henry, a Chinese-American, on a journey back to the 1940s when his best friends were a Japanese-American named Keiko Okabe and a local Jazz musician named Sheldon. Henry was 12 years old and was struggling with his relationship with his father, his feelings for Keiko and the events taking place in wartime Seattle.
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
My Name is Mary Sutter is a book about a well-respected midwife who dreams of being a surgeon in the Civil War era. She gets her chance at an overcrowded Union hospital where she is given the opportunity to assist with amputations when no one else with medical training was available. Her determination and skill win the respect and love of the doctors who were reluctant to believe in her.
Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.
On July 16-17, 1942, thousands of French police, in collaboration with the Nazis, gathered up 12,884 Parisian Jews, including children, in one of the most brutal and overt deportation operations orchestrated by the Nazi regime.
The police come for ten year old Sarah Starzynsksi and her parents in the middle of the night during what has come to be known as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. Sarah, in her panic to protect her younger brother, makes a fateful decision.
“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. Suite Française tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.
Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.
This book was chosen for our very first book club party. It brought family and friends together for one night of strengthening our minds, renewing our bounds and nourishing our bellys. This party went on way past any of our bedtimes but it was worth every yawn. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent is set in the 17th century and deals that period of mass hysteria and religious extremism which resulted in accusations of witchcraft, the resulting imprisonment of about 150 people, including children, and the hanging deaths of fourteen women and five men. The Heretic’s Daughter is told through the knowing eyes of ten year old Sarah, daughter of accused witch, Martha Carrier.
Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
When her parents die on the ship from Ireland, young Lavinia is taken in as an indentured servant at the plantation of the captain. The slaves become her family. When she is taken to the city, she wants nothing more than to return to the plantation and her family. However, when she does, everything has changed.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter.