CHARGE: To show how women worked against the Nazi regime in Germany.
FACTS: This book chronicles the life of Mildred Fish Harnack, as she and her circle of friends attempt to silently wage battle against the Nazi regime in Germany. Using a variety of quiet resistance, this American woman tried to work with the German University system to enlighten her student enough to inoculate them against Nazi propaganda. The regime changes in Germany happened very quickly, in some ways reminiscent of current events: “She could not comprehend how Germany, a country of great philosophers, artists, and intellectual achievement could have succumbed to the poisonous allure of populism…Total totalitarianism had crept up on them steadily, menacingly, and then, with one swift lunge it had seized them around the throats.” Though the facts of this story are often brutal this is a very readable story of how Adolph Hitler got control of the German government, with disastrous results.
VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. Very difficult to read, but important to understand.
CHARGE: To explore how choices can determine our lives.
FACTS: Ethan Frome, caught in a loveless marriage, become attracted to their house guest, brought into their home to assist his ailing wife. When she is forced to leave, the pair must make a choice that will determine the course of the rest of their lives. Did they make the right decision?
VERDICT: Hung jury. I never could get int the story. The archaic language made it difficult to read. The ending was very abrupt. Hopelessness isn’t an easy read.
FACTS: Chief Inspector Gamache is once again called to Three Pines to investigate a murder. Implicated in the murder is a beloved resident of Three Pines. This is my favorite so far in this series. The action is mostly psychological – exploring how the past and the present can collide to determine the future. Once you want more, can you ever be satisfied?
CHARGE: To discover whether a family house can keep a family together.
FACTS: Years after loving and losing their family home, Dutch House, siblings Danny and Maeve continue to be drawn to sitting on the street in front of their former home. What draws them? Why does this house have such a hold over them? Can their association with the house determine their destiny? This is a marvelous novel about love, loss, tenacity, and dreams. Can a house become a force for hearing. This is one I couldn’t put down!
FACTS: Elton John has lived a life that has run the gamut of poor to rich, drunk to sober, and everywhere in between. Stories of debauchery, drug use, and family dysfunction were very difficult to read. I had forgotten that Elton John had written the soundtrack for the Lion King. The stories behind how songs were written, recorded, and promoted were very interesting. The book is written in rather simplistic language, but is an interesting look behind the scenes of the life of a rock legend. Much of the depravity was unsettling.
CHARGE: To describe what happened after the end of the Handmaid’s Tale.
FACTS: 15 years after the Handmaid’s Tale ends, we meet Aunt Lydia and Agnes in Gilead and Daisy in Canada. Gilead is beginning to crumble from within…”as they fail to keep the promises that brought them to power…” Was this foreseen by the Handmaid’s Tale? Will there be outside forces that hasten the collapse? What is the value of women to society? Does society undervalue women – to what effect? Are these new women connected to Offred? Does she figure in the ultimate destiny of Gilead? This book will answer all these questions and more as we see the development of Gilead and its society.
VERDICT: Guilty, as charged, though the shifting voices and time periods often made it difficult to follow. The continued exploits of the residents of Gilead are very compelling.
CHARGE: To explore the lengths to which an individual would go to survive.
FACTS: Inspired by the author’s own life, we see two different stories of young women coming of age during the reign of Pablo Escobar in Columbia. Survival looks very different when filtered by social class. Death, kidnapping, and deprivation strike them all. The choices they make will ultimately seal their fate. The story moves slowly at times, letting gruesome images linger.
VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. The book is hard to read at times, but it covers an important topic.
CHARGE: To discover who would crush a daughter to death with a statue of her father?
FACTS: A remote inn, an anniversary getaway, and a family reunion. What could go wrong? Chief Inspector Gamache, on a romantic anniversary trip with his wife, is actually on the scene of the murder of Julia Martin at the magnificent Manoir Bellechasse. /surrounded by her family, Julia Martin is killed by the force of a newly-dedicated statue of her father crushing her to death. Familiar characters Peter and Clara Morrow are there as members of the family reunion group. Who killed Julia? What was the motive? This is a brilliantly written store of love, hate, and intrigue.
VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. This book was magnificent. My favorite, by far, of this series.
CHARGE: To discover who would murder one of the nicest women in Three Pines.
FACTS: Madeline Favreau is a favorite in Three Pines When she dies mysteriously during a seance at the Hadley mansion. Chief Inspector Gamache is sent back to Three Pines. During the cruelest month of April, Inspector Gamache faces overturned chairs, salt, a dead bird, various suspects, and many questions. The story lags a bit when a lingering back story involving Gamache’s past threatens to overtake the true plot. Some prior characters reoccur and one starving artist may be a big break.
VERDICT: Guilty, as charged, but becomes rather bogged down.
CHARGE: To explore the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff on January 30, 1945
FACTS: This historical novel explores the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII. This was the deadliest disaster in maritime history, through most of us have never heard of it. Approximately 9,000 were killed. Told from the perspective of four different participants, and amazing and devastating story unravels. “Those who are gone are not necessarily lost.”