Tag Archive | historical fiction

The Nightingale #bookclubpick #NYTbestseller

The Nightingale

In France in 1939, in the village called Carriveau, Vianne’s husband is going off to war. While he is gone, the Nazis invade France and a German soldier lives in her home.
In the intervening time period, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is searching for purpose and love in life that has been absent up until this point. Determined to do what she can, she joins the French resistance to oppose the Nazi occupation and risk her life time and time again.
The story tells the narratives of two sisters whose personalities are opposites and describes how each person deals with the challenges in front of them because of the Nazi occupation.

I do not usually read historical novels about the effects of war. That being said, I give the author a lot of credit for the book was well written. The story was true to the time period. The story is very similar to the real story of war heroine Andree de Jongh.

The author does not gloss over any of the atrocities that were happening at the time. It demonstrated the insidious way that the Nazis manipulated people to carry out their nefarious agenda.

From the beginning, Isabelle recognized the threat and wanted to do all she could to fight the Nazis.

Vianne did not want to rock the boat. While she finally acted in a way that helped someone other than her immediate family, she seemed to me to be selfish most of the novel. There was a lot of denial based on a naive assumption of what an occupying military force would do. There was a deliberate lack of perception for fear of what she might find.

The difference in upbringing was evident. Vianne always looked for someone to take care of her. On the other hand, Isabelle knew she had to take of herself. She did not have the luxury of depending on others because she had been disappointed time and time again.

In my opinion, the most character development happens in Vianne. Isabelle has her own evolution, but I think it is more drastic in Vianne.

The author did a fantastic job writing this and I think you will enjoy. When reading, I encourage you to think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what you think will break you. Be honest with yourself and confront what you truly fear. This is the type of book that I would suggest that you read with a friend so that you can discuss. Considering what is happening in the world around us, a lot of what was in the story could have been taken from the headlines today.

Trigger warnings: torture, rape

TOW Final Word: Buy, Borrow, Pass?
BUY especially if you like historical fiction set in WWII. Even though I do not read or recommend a lot of books from this genre, I rate this book highly because it spurred a lot of thought.

Book details
Series: N/A
Heat Level: 🔥
Print Length: 449 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (February 3, 2015)
Publication Date: February 3, 2015

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Love in the Time of cholera #romance #bookclubpick #bestseller

Love in the Time of cholera

This is a story of loss love. Florentino and Fermina were lovers separated at a young age because her father did not approve of the relationship. Fermina was soon married to a local doctor. Fifty years later, Fermina’s husband dies and Florentino decided that the flame of love had never completely been extinguished.

Our book club decided to read this book for the month of January and I was very excited. I thought I would like this book more than I did because, from the blurb, it seemed like a sweet romance.

I do think that the writing was very descriptive and sounded extremely romantic. The author painted a picture of every character that is mentioned with much detail. It made it very easy to visualize the setting and the people within.


When it comes to unrequited love, I have a few rules. One of those is that the hero and the heroine should save themselves for each other. Granted in this case, they had to wait 50 years before they actually got together. I tried to be a little lenient because a person, realistically, is probably not going to wait 50 years pining over lost love.

Image result for you know there's a but meme

However in this book, I think the fact that Florentino slept with more than 600 women seemed excessive. Even when I tried to rationalize it by saying he was trying to re-create the love he had for Fermina, I still think he was a male whore. Many times, he seem to choose women who were emotionally unavailable. In the end, he chose a girl who was around the same age as Fermina was when he met her for the first time, making him a dirty old man.

Image result for you know there's a but meme

I would have preferred if Fermina had been a more likable character. She seems so angry, haughty, and arrogant all of the time. When she had the choice to choose love over money, she chose money. Then it seems as if she was bitter because Florentino eventually had money and wealth that she wanted from the beginning.

I thought there was too much time spent talking about the 50 years that they were not together, especially since they were not pining for each other. They live their lives. While they have their moments where they wondered what could have been, it did not seem that they had a burning love. I would have preferred if the story had focused on them getting to know who they were after the fifty-year gap.

I also took issue with the way that rape was glossed over and even romanticized in the book. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the author was male and probably could not adequately understand how that act of violence would traumatize a woman.

TOW Final Word: Buy, Borrow, Pass?

I say Borrow, but this was an Oprah book club pick. She liked it enough to encourage everyone to buy it. For me, even though the writing was extremely descriptive and beautiful, this was a difficult read because the story’s content fell short for me.

Book details

Print length: 357 pages

Series: No
Heat Level: 🔥 🔥



The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman #historicalfiction

The Light Between Oceans


Tom is the caretaker of a lighthouse and lives on an isolated island with his wife Isabel. When a boat appears with a dead man and a baby, Tom wants to report it. Isabel pleads with him to let her keep the baby and raise it as her own. Tom knows it is against the law, but relents since his wife suffered 3 miscarriages.

While in isolation, they can pretend their actions have no consequences. However, once back in tow, it becomes evident that the implications of one act will affect the entire town in some way.


The book was well written in an artful way. It was very descriptive but I felt like the book was as tedious as trudging through knee-high snow. For example, when the author described some scenes and I wondered where the story was going. Was this important to the story? Does not seem to be. Does this give me additional insight into the character? Not much.

The pace was so slow, almost sluggish. In the first chapter, they find the baby. Based on that, I thought the story would have move faster than it did. Then the second chapter goes back to the time when Tom first started working at the lighthouse, before he met Isabel. There was so much build up, but the ending seemed rather flat, as if it fizzled out like a lukewarm, stale soda.

While all the characters experience different degrees of pain and suffering, the story was the most tragic for Isabel. Not that Isabel had done anything to endear herself to me, but I felt sorry for her desperate desire to have children. Three pregnancies which ended in miscarriages/stillbirth had to be heart wrenching. She had so much love to give a child, but desperation and isolation made her crazy.

When I started this book, I had no real expectations. I had a feeling that it would not end well since the whole plot line was centered on the consequences of not reporting the missing baby.

What good could come of that?

When I finished, I was not surprises that the story had no winners. While the story was interesting, I did not find that I identified with the characters. Tom had a screwed up childhood and acted as if he did not deserve any goodness in his life. On the other hand, Isabel was spoiled as if the world owed her.

Should you buy? If you like reading emotionally charged books that lean towards being depressing, you will enjoy this book. I could not rate this book higher because I like books with a decidedly happier ending.


Book Details
Paperback: 345 pages
Publisher: Scribner (April 2, 2013)
Language: English