Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Second Mrs Hockady by Susan Rivers


“TAUT, ALMOST UNBEARABLE SUSPENSE . . . This galvanizing historical portrait of courage, determination, and abiding love mesmerizes and shocks.” —Booklist (starred review)
“All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”


When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?



Inspired by a true incident, this saga conjures the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation--and the next--began to see their world anew.

My Review

This beautifully written book is told through the voice of a young seventeen-year-old girl named Placidia through her diary and letters. It is an epistolatory novel that reveals the truth of the murder mystery bit by tantalizing bit. The tale kept me engrossed to the end. With a touch of mystery, secrets, and an enduring love, this is one book set during the Civil War that is not to be missed. Susan Rivers has written a spell-binding first novel. Look for more by Miss Rivers as she has a wonderful talent for storytelling. Definitely highly recommended. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by


For fans of Cold Mountain and The Invention of Wings comes “a tour de force of historical fiction” (Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain) that follows the epic journey of a slave-turned-Comanche warrior who travels from the brutality of a New Orleans sugar cane plantation to the indomitable frontier of an untamed Texas, searching not only for the woman he loves but so too for his own identity.


I have been to hangings before, but never my own.



Sitting in a jail cell on the eve of his hanging, April 1, 1875, freedman Persimmon “Persy” Wilson wants nothing more than to leave some record of the truth—his truth. He may be guilty, but not of what he stands accused: the kidnapping and rape of his former master’s wife.



In 1860, Persy had been sold to Sweetmore, a Louisiana sugar plantation, alongside a striking, light-skinned house slave named Chloe. Their deep and instant connection fueled a love affair and inspired plans to escape their owner, Master Wilson, who claimed Chloe as his concubine. But on the eve of the Union Army’s attack on New Orleans, Wilson shot Persy, leaving him for dead, and fled with Chloe and his other slaves to Texas. So began Persy’s journey across the frontier, determined to reunite with his lost love. Along the way, he would be captured by the Comanche, his only chance of survival to prove himself fierce and unbreakable enough to become a warrior. His odyssey of warfare, heartbreak, unlikely friendships, and newfound family would change the very core of his identity and teach him the meaning and the price of freedom.



From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Life Without WaterThe Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson is a sweeping love story that “is as deeply moving and exciting an American saga as has ever been penned” (Lee Smith, author of Dimestore).


Review
by

If you buy this book, prepare yourself to be utterly absorbed about a good, honest man, but also a poor black slave turned free who wanders and ultimately becomes a prisoner. On the eve of his execution, he recalls his life, his love, and all the events that led him to the gallows. 

Author Nancy Peacock thrusts readers deep into this man's heart and soul, giving us great insight into the tumultuous era in which he lived and loved. Persimmon's motivation is his great love for a woman. It is this love that leads him on a search despite the danger and trouble he will encounter. For her, he risks all, and it endeared this character to me. 

The tale is heart-wrenching and visceral, emotional and rich. One of the best stories I've ever read. Get this book now! It is sure to please and will stay with you a very long time.



Monday, March 20, 2017

The Kaiser's Last Kiss by Alan Judd



Soon to be a movie titled The Exception starring Christopher Plummer, Lily James, and Jai Courtney, this “crisp, adroit, and subtle tale of great personal power” (The New York Times) follows the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm, the young Nazi officer assigned to guard him, and the Jewish maid who unwittingly comes between them.


It is 1940 and the exiled monarch Kaiser Wilhelm is living in his Dutch chateau, Huis Doorn. The old German king spends his days chopping logs and musing on what might have been.



When the Nazis invade Holland, the Kaiser’s staff is replaced by SS guards, led by young and recently commissioned SS officer Martin Krebbs, and an unlikely relationship develops between the king and his keeper. While they agree on the rightfulness of German expansion and on holding the nation’s Jewish population accountable for all ills, they disagree on the solutions.



But when Krebbs becomes attracted to Akki, a Jewish maid in the house, he begins to question his belief in Nazism. As the threads of history conspire with the recklessness of the heart, The Kaiser, Untersturmfuhrer Krebbs, and the mysterious Akki find themselves increasingly conflicted and gravely at risk…

Review

It is always fascinating to get fresh new perspectives on many of the people whose lives were affected by the politics and machinations of World War II. This novel is full of fascinating and mysterious characters who evolve throughout the story, many truly villainous and painfully evil, and others who truly touched me. Although the love story is not a dominant factor, it adds to the ambiance of the tale. One of my favorite plot basics was the setting - an old house filled with precious artifact and antiques. I'm definitely looking forward to the movie version of this story. A quick, easy read which I highly recommend.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

"An enchanting, atmospheric work of historical fiction that is a rich blend of Downton Abbey and Jane EyreThe Echo ofTwilight is a wonderful novel to curl up with this winter."--Booklist

From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.


As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.

In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...

My Review

An orphan all her life, Pearl was raised by her aunt and grandfather. Upon their deaths, she found work as a ladies maid with Lady Ottoline Campbell. They become fast friends and travel from England to Scotland on the eve of World War I. As Ottoline's sons and nephews join up, the two women are distraught.

The two women become further linked by a dark secret that can destroy their lives.

I enjoyed this wonderful family saga set in the early 1900's. The book is well paced with larger than life characters, an interesting plot which culminates in a most satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

Thank You

Richard Patzer
November 20, 1946
to
February 24, 2017
I sincerely thank readers, authors, and publishers for their patience over the past few months as I took a break from blogging to care for my husband during his illness and hospitalization. He passed away peacefully at the end of February. His loss has left me and my family in grief and in a struggle to move forward in our lives without him. 

Slowly, I am gathering up the threads of my work I was forced to abandon in my husband's time of need.  

To authors and publishers who have trusted me with your books to review, please know I am slowly working through a backlog and you will receive a review in due time. To readers who have waited patiently for my opinions and recommendations on new historical book releases, please visit often as I get back to reading and reviewing once more.