Tag Archives: history

Salvaged Love by Susan Blackmon

Salvaged Love

From Susan Blackmon’s web site

Salvaged Love is subtitled A Historic Novel of Key West 1828-1829.  The words “historic novel” caught my eye and I loaded this to my Kindle on a whim.  I had never heard of its author, Susan Blackmon, and quickly learned Salvaged Love was her debut novel.

Despite having traveled to Florida many times, I have never visited Key West or heard much about its history.  After reading Salvaged Love, I felt as if I had visited the island, albeit as it was in 1828-29, and knew I had learned a bit of its history.

The story centers around the coming of age of Abigail Bennington, 19-year old daughter of Richard Bennington.  Bennington acquired his fortunate in the shipping business. Her father surprises Abigail when he invites her to join him on one of his business trips.

As he explains, Bennington’s next trip is to the Caribbean and then on to Montgomery, Alabama, where his brother has a cotton plantation. Spurred on by desperate desire to excape her current situation, Abigail excitedly accepts her father’s invitation.  Their holiday will last six months.

A detour changes their plans when they become stranded on Key West, a newly formed island community inhabited mostly by men and sitting on treacherous coral reefs near the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico.

All is well until circumstances force Bennington to insist that Abigail must marry.  Soon, Abigail finds herself battling not only her own emotions but her husband’s reason for never returning her love and affection in any but a sexual way.  Will this young couple’s marriage survive?  Will happiness ever inhabit their home?  How will Abigail resolve this painful situation?

Susan Blackmon writes with a fluid style which quickly draws her reader into the book by descriptions of people, places and traditions among society.  The first sentence in the first chapter is Bennington’s question to Abigail, which sets the story in motion:  “Would you like to go with me to the Caribbean?”  Immediately I know that this will be an efficient piece of writing, not wasting the reader’s time attempting to figure out the book’s course.

Blackmon further has shown that she is correct in the use of historical research.  The Author’s Note at the beginning gives a brief overview of the history of the land known as Key West and some of historical figures who lived and/or visited Key West.  In addition, a note is included on why the author chose the time period, 1828-29.

As a debut novel, this one ranks high on the charts for me.  Blackmon has a natural gift for writing, often “painting” scenes, places, and people for her writers.  Although a few minor grammatical errors were noted (her editor or proofreader should have caught these), they do not impede the enjoyment of this novel.

Once I began Salvaged Love, I could not put it down; and I cannot wait until the second in the series comes out.

When Jesus Wept by Bodie & Brock Thoene

When Jesus Wept

Two things caused me to select When Jesus Wept:

1. The Lenten season was upon us, and the title seemed in step with Jesus’s journey as He moved closer to the cross; and

2. The cover artwork is astounding and held great meaning for me.

Additionally, I had heard nothing but good things about Bodie and Brock Thoene and their writings.  I confess I had perused their books in the past but had never read one.  Still, reading my first Thoene book would be enjoyable based on friends’ comments.

When Jesus Wept chronicles the life of Lazarus beginning as his 30-day period of grieving had ended.  According to his people’s customs, Lazarus was now allowed to return to begin his life over without his wife and newborn son.  Ironically, he had just passed his 30th birthday.

The reader watches as Lazarus travels to experience John the Baptist’s teachings, his first meeting with Jesus, the Roman treatment of his people and others, and so many other experiences involving Jesus’s teachings and life.

Unfortunately, for me at least, it is difficult to read Biblical stories in the context of a novel.  I had never attempted this before.  Although I believe the Thoenes’ have done their research and their factual information is mostly correct, I found myself questioning some things as I read.

One Biblical question that arose for me surrounded the Marys involved in Lazarus’s story.  The implication in the book is that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene are the same woman.  I have my own personal doubts about this.  Having done research on Mary Magdalene for a presentation on her involvement at the time of the resurrection, I do not see her as being the Mary highlighted in the Bible as Lazarus’ sister, the servant who anointed Jesus’s with expensive perfume.

Also, the looseness of the story once it moved from a Biblical note or story back to the thread of Lazarus’s life as a novel troubled me.  I realize, as a writer, the need for character development and dialogue in this particular genre.  However, for me, that part of the book never had a tight fit as I read.  I admit to skipping several pages from time to time.

This book is the first in the Jerusalem Chronicles series.  I seriously doubt I will pick up the next.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

soldiers_wife300Browsing the shelves of the library recently, my eyes were drawn for some inexplicable reason to the spine of The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy.  On reading the publisher’s synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this book.

Set in the Channel Islands, specifically on Guernsey, The Soldier’s Wife tells the story of Vivienne de la Mare and the sacrifices she must make as World War II comes to the shores of Guernsey.

Living with her two daughters and her mother-in-law, Vivienne finds her household no different from many others on the island.  Her husband, Eugene, has left home to fight in the war.  Yet life seems not too much different without him.  Vivienne and Eugene may have slept in the same bed, but the distance between them when he left had grown to immense proportions.

Soon the Germans bomb and then occupy Guernsey and the other islands, building work camps for prisoners of war.  The house next to Vivienne’s is taken as a residence for several German soldiers, one of whom is quite intriguing and tall, with a rather long, pink scar on his face.

Vivienne is soon faced with negotiating her way through a life of new rules, new faces, and a risky but new and rich love in her life.

Margaret Leroy has written a rich and evocative work in which her characters waltz between mystery and romance, days of domesticity and military life, amidst the horrors of war.

Vivienne is a quiet, unassuming woman but one who depicts bravery, courage, compassion, and resilience of the kind only found in the midst of the face of love — love for her children, her mother-in-law, her island and home, and even the German soldier.

RECOMMENDATION:  Lovers of historical fiction, World War II history, the Channel  Islands and their role in WWII

STARS:  5

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ISBN:  9781401341701
New York:  Hyperion/Voice, c2011
404 p. | map
Includes discussion questions

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