Tag Archives: World War II

Review: City of Secrets

City of Secrets

City of Secrets
By Stewart O’Nan
Viking, Hardcover, 9780670785964, April 2016, 208pp.

The Short of It:

O’Nan is a master storyteller. He can take any topic and make it good

The Rest of It:

From Goodreads:

A noirish, deeply felt novel of intrigue and identity written in O’Nan’s trademark lucent style, City of Secrets asks how both despair and faith can lead us astray, and what happens when, with the noblest intentions, we join movements beyond our control.

In 1945, Jewish refugees were forced to flee to Palestine. There, they had to rely on the underground for survival. As you can imagine, taking on new identities and trying to blend created quite a challenge. City of Secrets follows a man named Brand, as he tries to navigate the new life he is forced to live.

This is one of those situations where the topic isn’t really my thing but because of O’Nan’s  writing and an effort on my part to step outside of my comfort zone , I decided to read it anyway. That said, O’Nan delivers quite a satisfying read.  As Brand’s character evolves, things become more complex which makes the reading a little tense at times.

All in all, I think this is a very different book for O’Nan. I’ve read many of his books and this one has a different feel than some of his others. He always manages to deliver strong characters and a good story though which is why I continue to go back to him and this one is so short!

With all of the summer reading lists coming out right now, this one is a little different but if the subject matter appeals to you give it a go.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Where My Heart Used to Beat

Where My Heart Used to Beat

Where My Heart Used to Beat
By Sebastian Faulks
Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9780805097320, January 26, 2016, 352pp.

The Short of It:

A well-told story about love and loss.

The Rest of It:

Description from Indiebound:

London, 1980. Robert Hendricks, an established psychiatrist and author, has so bottled up memories of his own wartime past that he is nearly sunk into a life of aloneness and depression. Out of the blue, a baffling letter arrives from one Dr. Alexander Pereira, a neurologist and a World War I veteran who claims to be an admirer of Robert’s published work. The letter brings Robert to the older man’s home on a rocky, secluded island off the south of France, and into tempests of memories–his childhood as a fatherless English boy, the carnage he witnessed and the wound he can’t remember receiving as a young officer in World War II, and, above all, the great, devastating love of his life, an Italian woman, “L,” whom he met during the war. As Robert’s recollections pour forth, he’s unsure whether they will lead to psychosis–or redemption. But Dr. Pereira knows.

I really enjoyed this novel and I am not a fan of “war” stories so that should tell you something. This story is delicately told and hints at darkness but there are plenty of moments where the light shines through.

Hendricks is a lonely man. He seeks the company of women many times in this novel, mostly of the paid variety, but when he meets Luisa he knows he’s met the love of his life. However, all is not perfect and she has her own story to tell.

When Hendricks agrees to meet with Dr. Pereira to discuss the possibility of working for him, he finds himself revisiting his past where he’s forced to deal with the death of his father and the events that have shaped him thus far. All of which have everything to do with his current relationships.

This was a good read for me. Good storytelling, liked the setting, and although parts of the story were tragic, it never seemed heavy to me. I enjoyed it.

Source:Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.