Category Archives: world war 2

IN FARLEIGH FIELD … by Rhys Bowen (2017)

in farleigh field     Mystery Fiction                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I have been a Rhys Bowen fan for years and I  await each installment of her two current series with eager anticipation.  The “Molly Murphy” mysteries feature a capable and enterprising young woman – an Irish immigrant with an unfortunate past – rebuilding her  life in early twentieth century New York City.  There have been 16 installments in this series, with a new adventure available later this year.  It is always nice to have something to anticipate.

 The “Royal Spyness” mysteries  are set in England between the wars, and feature a young lady who is 35th in line to the throne.  Lady Georgiana  is dirt poor but rich with connections and usually finds herself performing some favour or another to stay in the good graces of her royal family.  In the background, her cousin Edward is courting a certain Mrs. Simpson.  There are nine books and counting in this more lighthearted series.

As soon as I heard that Rhys Bowen had a new novel coming out I knew I had to read it.   I am happy to report that I was not disappointed.  This is a World War ll era novel with great characters (and in my opinion Rhys Bowen writes great characters)

 Farleigh Place is the stately English manor of Lord Westerham, his wife, and five daughters.  England is at war with Germany and half the estate has been commandeered by the British army; meanwhile the family learns to live in more reduced circumstances.  Middle daughter Pamela has a position at Bletchley Park, although her family thinks she is doing secretarial work.  Another daughter, Margot, is living in Paris and refusing to return home to England.  Ben is the son of the village vicar, and Pamela’s childhood friend.  (of course he is secretly in love with her)  A recent accident has kept him from enlisting but he does undercover work for the government and receives a lot of flack for not doing his part.  Another childhood friend – dashing flying ace Jeremy Prescott- has joined the RAF.

One day, as youngest daughter Phoebe is crossing the estate on her pony, she comes across a battered body in soldier’s clothing.  He has fallen from the sky due to a failed parachute.  This sets off  an inquiry with lots of  questions and Ben is tasked with discretely finding some answers.

 Each daughter has her own story.  This is where I always admire Rhys Bowen; I think she is great at writing characters that the reader can care about.  And she excels at writing women with good minds and strong personalities.  This novel has been promoted as a “stand alone” but I , for one, would love to see it become a series.  I feel the author has only scratched to surface with these characters.

IN FARLEIGH FIELD is a novel about WW ll with great characters and an exciting plot;  espionage, secrets and alliances of all kind are all explored in this excellent book.

The reader may want to read THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) as a companion book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, General fiction, historical fiction, Mysteries, mystery fiction, world war 2

IN THIS GRAVE HOUR by Jacqueline Winspear (2017) …A Maisie Dobbs Novel

in this grave hour

Mystery Fiction

Historical Fiction

“In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.  For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war. ” — The opening lines of a speech given by King George Vl of England, on the day it was announced that England was at war with Germany. (September 3, 1939)

 The 13th novel in the MAISIE DOBB’S series begins with Maisie rushing to the home of her dearest friend Priscillia, so they can listen to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the wireless: war has been declared. This is a time period the British often refer to as the “phoney war”, or Churchill’s term “the twilight war” where nothing much happens on land, involving the Allies,  for about eight months – ( although the seas are a different matter). The children of London are evacuated to country homes and the adults of London must carry gas masks and adhere to strict blackout rules. The initial  chaos contributes to the cases that Maisie must confront since the police force,  and the bureaucrats are overburdened.  Maisie is employed to investigate the murder of a man who was a Belgium refugee in the first war and she also attends to a little girl who is an evacuee with a mysterious background.

Fans of this series will remember that the first novel (MAISIE DOBBS, 2003) began in 1929 with Maisie, also a psychologist, opening her inquiry agency.  Many of the early cases had seeds in the first war and many of the characters were physically or mentally wounded by that war. But there was also healing and new life.  It is therefore terribly heartbreaking that many of the children that offered up hope throughout the series are now eligible to fight in the new war. And here is what separates a series from a stand-alone novel; the reader may become totally invested in the characters in a series. I thought the last book ( JOURNEY TO MUNICH, 2016) was the weakest in the entire collection but I still wanted more Maisie (and friends).

The author manages to convey an overall sense of incredulity among the older characters that there is – indeed – another war.  And some acceptance.  But the younger characters – meaning those who weren’t yet born during the 1st war or those who were too young to remember – often display a sense of excitement.

Overall I felt this was maybe not the best entry in this series – but it was good – and I will look forward to reading about the next chapter in Maisie’s life.

IN THIS GRAVE HOUR, a Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear, (2017), Harper Collins, 332 pages.

 

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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, General fiction, historical fiction, Mysterious Ladies, mystery fiction, world war 2

Treaty of Versailles

Nonfiction
My daughter recently did a school project on The Treaty of Versailles and I helped her source some of the books from the local library. She had many more sources from her school library and, of course, her research was much more intense than mine but a strange thing happened – I learned a few things. I won’t even try to claim that I read all these books cover to cover but, by golly, I did absorb a few details. I now have a better understanding of the players involved and a pretty clear understanding why the treaty might have failed. In fact, if you ask some people when World War 2 started  they may reply “June 28, 1919” — the day that the Treaty of Versailles was signed.paris 1919
These are some of the books from our local library;
Paris 1919 Six Months that Changed the World by MacMillan, Margaret, 2002, Random House

The Guardians –  The League of nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pederson, 2015 ,Oxford University Press

With Our Back Against the Wall –  Victory and Defeat in 1918 by Stevenson, D., 2011, Belknap Press of Harvard

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin 1989. Holt

A Shattered Peace by David Andelman 2014, Wiley, John Wiley and sons

The Long Shadow by David Reynolds, 2014, W. W. Norton and co.

The Lights That Failed by Zara Steiner, 2005, Oxford University Press

The Deluge by Adam Tooze, 2014, Viking

The Fall of The Ottomans by Rogan, Eugene, 2015, Perseus Books

The Wilsonian Moment by Erez Manela, 2007, Oxford University press

Laurence In Arabia by Anderson, Scott, 2013, Signal

These books have lots of information on the Paris Peace Treaties and The Treaty of Versailles in Particular. I am not an academic yet I found some information that fascinated me. Here are a few points that fascinated me.

  • The Germans agreed to surrender based on Wilson’s “fourteen points for peace” yet these were pretty much ignored once the negotiations began
  • In fact The United States Of America opted out of “The League of Nations”
  • It seemed each country had their own agenda.
  • France suffered the most casualties and damage during the war and they demanded reparations from Germany resulting in a hungry and impoverished and unhappy Germany. This led to the groundwork for an upstart named Adolph Hitler and his Fascists to improve the conditions in Germany and become a hero.
  • They league of nation had no muscle and the treaty was broken at various times by various countries with few consequences
  • Boundaries all through Europe were redrawn willy nilly, especially in the Middle East
  • Eventually several nations withdrew from the league of nations.

I usually like to write about fiction. novels but this subject peaked my interest so I thought I would include this biblioghraphy on my blog. Of course, I have only touched the surface on this topic.

 

 

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Filed under books, hstory, non fiction, world war 1, world war 2