Recent Reads: October

Just like Anne, I am so glad I live in a world of Octobers. There is something about the crunch of leaves on the ground. I also picked up quite a few (new to me) books that I LOVED this month.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigani

I can’t figure out why I’ve never selected this book! I loved everything about it from the cover to the characters. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day. It’s one of the books that you are just hoping the characters get a chance! It’s also a great insight into how our country was built by communities of families helping each other naviagte new regions and businesses.

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Well, bookstores in London during World War II are popular, but this one is completely worth it! The reltationship between the main characters, Gertie and Hedy, as they live together under tragic circumstances progresess at a realistic rate. Their stories, intertwined, as they run Gertie’s bookstore throughout the Blitz of London is captivating and heart wrenching. I highly recommned this novel by Annie Lyons!

London, 1938: The bookstore just doesn’t feel the same to Gertie Bingham ever since the death of her beloved husband Harry. Bingham Books was a dream they shared together, and without Harry, Gertie wonders if it’s time to take her faithful old lab, Hemingway, and retire to the seaside. But fate has other plans for Gertie.

In Germany, Hitler is on the rise, and Jewish families are making the heart-wrenching decision to send their children away from the growing turmoil. After a nudge from her dear friend Charles, Gertie decides to take in one of these refugees, a headstrong teenage girl named Hedy. Willful and fearless, Hedy reminds Gertie of herself at the same age, and shows her that she can’t give up just yet. With the terrible threat of war on the horizon, the world needs people like Gertie Bingham and her bookshop.

When the Blitz begins and bombs whistle overhead, Gertie and Hedy come up with the idea to start an air raid book club. Together with neighbors and bookstore customers, they hold lively discussions of everything from  Winnie the Pooh  to  Wuthering Heights.  After all, a good book can do wonders to bolster people’s spirits, even in the most trying times. But even the best book can only provide a temporary escape, and as the tragic reality of the war hits home, the book club faces unimaginable losses. They will need all the strength of their stories and the bonds they’ve formed to see them through to brighter days.

This novel of the Great War and two characters who begin as antagonists but, through the circumstances of caring for the wounded soldiers and the daily life of a castle, they begin a relationship. The descriptions of Scotland provide a beautiful backdrop for the story. It’s also a peek into the social hierarchy of the early 20th century and how that influenced relationships, even during a world war. I really enjoyed this one, and it’s a nice, quick read for a rainy day.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.