Monday, January 21, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
(Six Tudor Queens #3)
by Alison Weir
Narrator/s: Rosalyn Landor
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.
ISBN: #9781501906145
Length: 19.75 hours

Summary

Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only male heir.

Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.

But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?

Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renown court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it. 

My Thoughts

*I received a copy of the audiobook thanks to Recorded Books in exchange for an honest review. 
"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."

"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived." I learned this mnemonic device some time ago to keep the fates of Henry VIII wives straight. I feel sorry for the lot of them. Did they deserve their fates, or were they just trying to play the game?

I love the Tudor and Elizabethan period. So much drama, intrigue, and WTFery. It reads better than most fiction. I have read a few of Weir's books, both fiction and nonfiction, in the past and know her to be an excellent writer and storyteller. When the opportunity arose to review this audiobook, I didn't say no. 

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen is the third book in Alison Weir's fictional series of the Six Tudor Queens. It seems a lot is known about his first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but wives 3-6 are often glossed over. I'm glad Weir wrote this series, so readers could get to know all of Henry's wives a little bit better. 

The audiobook is narrated by Rosalyn Landor. She's narrated a few other books I've listened to including the Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn. Being familiar with her work, I knew she'd do a great job with Jane Seymour as well. Landor has a way of drawing you into the story with her excellent pacing and characterization. She handles the plethora of characters with ease. 

Jane served in both households of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. She saw the fall of both queens. History is uncertain whether Jane was meek, or if she was as cunning and politically ambitious as Anne. I believe Weir melds these two versions of Jane together to bring readers a more realistic portrayal of this historic queen. While Anne holds the nomination for the most scandalous queen, Jane seems to be the opposite. However, you can see how they both influenced the king in their own way. Though Jane has learned to tread carefully after what befell his first two wives.

The book begins in 1518 before Jane goes to court and ends with her death in 1537. It covers Jane's life before court, during, and finally, when she becomes Queen. Weir address the struggles and uncertainty of the time period and the volatile king. Jane is torn between her beliefs and her country. And what it meant to be married to Henry VIII. 

When I wasn't listening to this audiobook, I was thinking about when I could listen to this audiobook. I absolutely loved it. Landor narrates the whole series so far, and I pray she continues to do so. I may go back to the beginning and listen to the first two book on audio as well. The next book in the series, Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait, won't be released until May, so there's still time.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Another Woman's Husband


Another Woman's Husband: A Novel
by Gill Paul 
Narrated by: Laura Aikman
Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
Published August 21st 2018 by HarperAudio

Summary

As the world mourns the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales, one young woman uncovers a forgotten story of passion, betrayal, and a scandal surrounding the British crown in this unforgettable novel by the bestselling author of The Secret Wife. 

Two women who challenged the Crown.

Divided by time. Bound by a secret...

1911: When fifteen-year-old Mary Kirk meets Wallis Warfield at summer camp, she’s immediately captivated by her fearless, brazen, and self-assured personality. And Wallis has a way with the boys who are drawn to her like moths to a flame. Though Mary’s family isn’t crazy about her new best friend, she steadfastly stands by her side—even years later when they’re adults and rumors swirl about Wallis and her reckless behavior with none other than the Prince of Wales. But when Mary’s loyalty to Wallis comes into question, their friendship will be put to the ultimate test.

1997: After a romantic proposal in Paris, Rachel and her fiancé Alex are in a cab when suddenly the car ahead crashes. They’re stunned to learn Princess Diana is in the car. By the wreckage, Alex finds a heart pendant with an engraved letter “J” and Roman numerals XVII and gives it to Rachel to hold. Haunted by the crash and Diana’s subsequent death, Rachel is intrigued when she discovers that Di had visited the last home of Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the accident. Eventually, the revelation of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world...

My Thoughts

I listened to Another Woman's Husband as an audiobook and I loved it! Laura Aikman did a fantastic job giving each character a unique voice and dealing flawlessly with the duel narrative of Gill Paul's exciting novel. If you're going to read this novel, I highly recommend the audiobook!

Another Woman's Husband switches back and forth between two time periods and two stories that are entwined. The first story line begins in 1911 with Mary Kirk and Wallis Warfield. They're both teenage girls at a private school. This book tells their story from their first meeting into adulthood, where their friendship is tested. The second story takes place in 1997, just after the death of Princess Diana. Newly engaged, Rachel and Alex witness the crash that killed Diana. Rachel is haunted by the accident, while Alex becomes obsessed. 

I remember the night that Diana died. I was coming home from a concert. The news shook us, like it did the rest of the world. It was surreal to read a historical novel involving her death. I had mixed feelings about it. I didn't like the story in this timeline like I did with Mary and Wallis's story. For starters, Rachel's too good for Alex. He is a jerk, and she could do better! But it's not a bad story, I just like delving a little further into the past.

I enjoyed learning about Wallis Simpson through the fictional eyes of her best friend, Mary. Their story kept me captivated and engaged. I think Wallis was an acquired taste that not many people liked. As a whole, this book is really good and well worth the listen. Gill Paul has written a fascinating look into the life of  the notorious Wallis Simpson full of intrigue and more. Reading this book was a absolute pleasure!

*My thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Audio for a review copy of this book. While I'm grateful for the opportunity to review this novel, it in no way influenced my opinion.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

0 Review: Prisoner of Night


Prisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5)
by J.R. Ward
Published January 7th 2019 by Gallery Books
ISBN13: 9781501195174)

Summary

From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes an unforgettable story of passion and vengeance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

When Ahmare’s brother is abducted, there is nothing she won’t do to get him back safely. She is unprepared, however, for the lengths she will have to go to save his life. Paired with a dangerous but enticing prisoner, she embarks on an odyssey into another world.

Duran, betrayed by his father, imprisoned in a dungeon for decades, has survived only because of his thirst for vengeance. He has been biding his time to escape and is shocked to find an unlikely and temporary freedom in the form of a determined young female.

Battling against deadly forces and facing unforeseen peril, the pair are in a race to save Ahmare’s brother. As time runs out, and the unthinkable looms, even true love may not be enough to carry them through.


My Thoughts

There was a time where I devoured urban fantasy books on a daily basis. J.R. Ward was one of my go-to authors for said genre. I loved the BDB books. Not all of them, but a good many. But many moons have passed since I picked up a book in this genre. I recently had the opportunity to revisit the world that Ward has so carefully cultivated, and I couldn't say no. 

Prisoner of Night fits between The Thief and The Savior in the series. Because this is a .5 book, it is still in the BDB world, but it doesn't really deal with the main characters of the series. Prisoner of Night's two main characters are Ahmare and Duran. Ahmare's brother has been abducted and to free him, she is sent on a task with a prisoner, who may be her undoing. Duran has been in a dungeon for two decades, and Ahmare might be his only chance of escape. Together, they have to overcome major obstacles, or lose everything they hold dear. 

Ward always gives her characters interesting backstories and characteristics. Her characters are flawed, yet you can't help but cheer for them. Ahmare and Duran complement each other with their strengths and weaknesses. The story line was fast paced and exciting. I didn't love this book like I love some of the earlier books in this series, but I was entertained nonetheless. 

It was nice to go back and revisit this world. Looking at the series list on Goodreads, I see I have some catching up to do though. New readers will be able to jump into this series with little trouble. Urban fantasy readers will enjoy Prisoner of Night.

*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley. This in no way influenced my opinion. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Crazy Rich Asians


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Narrated by Lynn Chen
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 13h 53m
Published June 11th 2013 by Random House Audio

Summary

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

My Thoughts

Crazy Rich Asians was one of my favorite books of 2018, even though it was published in 2013. I had heard buzz that it was fantastic and so I bought it through audible and there it sat in my queue waiting to be listened to. Then, the news that it was being made into a movie came about, and I decided to wait until the movie was released before I read the book. Except things never go as planned because life. Despite my disappointment of not seeing the movie in theaters, I decided to go ahead and listen to the audiobook, which, in my opinion, was pretty fantastic. 

The audiobook is narrated by Lynn Chen. Lynn Chen is an actress on stage and on film. I was unfamiliar with her work before starting this audiobook, but it didn't take me long to discover she was the perfect choice. She voices a multitude of characters and accents and does so with gusto. My only complaint is that I didn't love her Australian accent. It needed a little work. Other than that, she's great. Though the audiobook is almost fourteen hours in length, it didn't feel that long.

The story line to Crazy Rich Asians is fantastic. It covers the complexities of families, class distinctions, society, and expectations. At the heart of the story is Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young. Two young lovers, who want nothing more than to be together. However, Nicholas has been keeping Rachel in the dark about his background. He is crazy rich. The kind of rich you can't even relate to because nothing in your life can compare. The kind of rich where people judge you on the designer you are wearing rather than the kind of person you are. The kind of rich where even if you are rich, whether you are old money or new money matters.

The opulence of wealth in this novel is crazy. But you fall in love with the characters nevertheless. Nicholas brings Rachel home to meet his family without preparing her at all for what she's about to do. Thus, I was angry at Nicholas for some time during the first half of this book. I mean, he should have told her. Anyway, his family views her as a gold digger and strives to tear them apart. Rachel has to decide whether or not Nicholas is worth all the trouble.

This book is a roller coaster of emotion. From laugh out loud to tears, it doesn't disappoint. I adored this novel. Kevin Kwan is a brilliant writer. His characters have layers upon layers. It was so easy to fall in love with this story and its characters. I plan to listen to the rest of the trilogy as audiobooks as well. I highly recommend this book.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

0 Review: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume I by Collins Hemingway


The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume I
by Collins Hemingway
 200 pages
Published June 20th 2015 by AuthorHouse
9781504911023

Summary

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a prim and proper life as a single woman. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she—and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?


The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is a trilogy that resolves the biggest mysteries of Austen’s life, the “lost years” of her twenties—a period of which historians know virtually nothing.

- Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair? 

- Why, afterward, did the vivacious Jane Austen prematurely put on “the cap of middle age” and shut herself away to write her books? 

- Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters, journals, and diaries from this period?


The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy presents an original love story, based on actual history, to put forth a believable, compelling, and plausible answer to Austen’s lost years.


*I received a digital copy of this book in preparation for an upcoming book tour. I wasn't asked specifically to review this book, but since I liked it so much, I decided to. Receiving a free copy of this book has in no way influenced my opinion of it. 

My Thoughts

I adore Jane Austen. I've read and re-read her novels many times. I've even ventured into Jane Austen genre of 'what if'' novels because I too wanted more. These authors satiated my need for more Austen for a while. However, I don't think I've come across a 'what if'' novel that was inspired by Jane herself. My interest was immediately piqued.

Collins Hemingway has written a fictional account of Jane Austen during the time period where little is known about the famous author. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is separated into three different volumes. This is a review of the first volume.

As far as the public is concerned, Jane Austen has never been married. She had a brief tryst with Tom Lefoy and a marriage proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither. Yet, this single lady has written some of the best-loved, romantic, hilarious, and poignant characters that have graced the page. After Jane died, her sister Cassandra burned many of her letters. After all, Jane was a private person. But this has left so much of Jane's life to speculation. Could there have been more to Jane's story than we could ever know? This is where Collins Hemingway steps in.

The Marriage of Jane Austen opens up in August of 1802, at a ball no less. Hemingway drops the readers in the middle of the scene as if you were a fly on the wall. You get a sense that he is well acquainted with the beloved author and her works. The conversation is fun and witty. The scene is delightful. It's at this point you should cancel any plans you may have. Tell your family they must fend for themselves, because for the next few hours you will be glued to the pages until you finish the book.

Hemingway uses Jane's actual letters and historical facts to bring forth a plausible yet fictitious case of Jane being in love. I was enraptured with the story from cover to cover. Jane's road to love is rocky, but the author makes it worthwhile. And this is only Volume One. What will the next two books have in store for us readers? Can we expect a happily ever after? I'm fearful of the answer, yet I long to know. 

Well, Dear Readers, you'll have to wait until the end of January to read my review of Volume Two. Until then, have a Happy New Year!








Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2 My Year In Books


2018 was a good reading year. I set my Goodreads goal to read 52 books, but I ended up reading more than I anticipated.  I read 20,239 pages across 62 books.


The first book I read in 2018 was The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It was a fantastic way to start the year. 


The last book I read was The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.



I started and finished the year listening to audiobooks. I think 2018 was the year of audio for me. I believe I listened to more audiobooks than ever before.

The longest book I read was Gothic Tales by Arthur Conan Doyle.


The shortest book was Cocky Author in support of #cockygate


It's hard to pick my favorite book of 2018, so I picked my top 5. And these are in no particular order. 


Crazy Rick Asians by Kevin Kwan. 


The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon


Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy


The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey


A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

What was your favorite book of 2018?


Monday, December 24, 2018


Thursday, December 20, 2018

0 Audiobook: The Christmas Hirelings


By: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-10-18
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Studios
Category: Classics, British Literature

Summary

Sir John Penlyon is planning to spend Christmas at his estate with his niece and his friend Danby, the closest thing he has to family since disowning his daughter years ago. (She eloped with the parson, who was, of course, penniless.) Danby suggests that at Christmastime the estate needs the presence of small children, and offers to find some—the "hirelings"—despite Sir John’s skepticism. Three children duly arrive, and the youngest, precocious four year-old Moppet, quickly endears herself to Sir John. The season takes flight with merriment, warmth, and even affection, until Moppet—as young children are wont to do in Victorian holiday tales—falls deathly ill. With her life hanging by a tinsel-thin thread, how will the makeshift family cope?

My Thoughts

Last week I had a delightful surprise in my email. It was a free download from Audible for The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I've never read or ever heard of this classic story before, so I figured, why not? I was immediately engrossed in this audiobook.

The Christmas Hirelings is narrated by the actor Richard Armitage, star of Berlin Station. His voice suited this story perfectly. He gave each character a distinct voice and soon I forgot that the audiobook just had one narrator. 

The story is about an old curmudgeon (Sir John Penlyon) who is planning to spend Christmas with an old friend and his niece. They decide that Christmas is more Christmasy when there are young children around to share it with. So they decide to 'hire' some for the season. I know it sounds creepy/weird, but hang in there. Penlyon's friend, Danby, goes about and hires some. He brings them to Sir John's estate and the story begins to unfold.

The children endear themselves to Sir John and he to them, especially Moppet, the youngest. At her four years of age, she shows incredible understanding and love. Her presence warms Sir John's old Grinch heart. But Moppet suffers from sickness and soon her life is in peril. And that's where I'll stop. It is a Christmas tale so don't worry too much about the ending. 

This story was very moving. It's full of what the Christmas spirit should be about. I'm so glad Audible gave their members this Christmas story, because if not, I might have never come across it. If you're an Audible member, download this title immediately! 

 







0 Audiobook Review: Gothic Tales by Arthur Conan Doyle


Gothic Tales by Arthur Conan Doyle,  
Narrated by Gary Furlong 
Published October 2nd 2018 by Tantor Audio
Length: 19 hrs and 12 mins
9781515931379

Summary

Arthur Conan Doyle was the greatest genre writer Britain has ever produced. Throughout a long writing career, he drew on his own medical background, his travels, and his increasing interest in spiritualism and the occult to produce a spectacular array of Gothic tales. Many of Doyle's writings are recognized as the very greatest tales of terror. They range from hauntings in the polar wasteland to evil surgeons and malevolent jungle landscapes. This collection brings together over thirty of Conan Doyle's best Gothic tales. Darryl Jones's introduction discusses the contradictions in Conan Doyle's very public life-as a medical doctor who became obsessed with the spirit world, or a British imperialist drawn to support Irish Home Rule-and shows the ways in which these found articulation in that most anxious of all literary forms, the Gothic.

*I received a mp3 of this book courtesy of Tantor Audio for review purposes. However, I own the hardcover book. While I am grateful to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook, it in no way influenced my review.

My Thoughts

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known best for his Sherlock Holmes stories. I, for one, am a big fan of the books and the television series. This past year I read another book, Conan Doyle For The Defense, which piqued my interest and made me want to read more of his work. I purchased a copy of Gothic Tales and around the same time was offered a review copy of the audiobook. I, of course, accepted, and here we are. 

Gothic Tales is narrated by Gary Furlong. He is a wonderful narrator. There are a multitude of characters and accents that he performs so well. He made each story's voice unique and interesting. He has quite a few credits to his name on audible, so I expect others have recognized his talent as well. 

This book is quite lengthy. The audiobook is a little over 19 hours long. It took me about a month and a half to complete. However, I didn't listen to this book exclusively at the time. While this book was interesting, it wasn't thrilling. After listening to the introduction, I could see how Doyle's personal life heavily influenced his literary writings. This book deals with things you'd expect in a Gothic novel such as haunting, the unknown, the undiscovered, but also mental illness, his travels, and medical mysteries.  Doyle was also heavily influenced by spiritualism, which also influences his works. 

These stories were published in the 1800s and with that comes some negative aspects. There are many stories that contain racism and slurs. Although Doyle was an abolitionist, I still cringed when hearing certain words read out loud. But I wonder if like Mark Twain his purpose was to make people see how ridiculous their prejudices were. Nevertheless, it still made me uncomfortable.

Overall, the collection of stories does open up a window into the author's soul. You get the impression of how much his father's mental illness weighed upon his mind. How his travels at sea fueled his imagination. How his love of spiritualism made him wonder 'what if'. I don't think these tales would fit into the modern interpretation of Gothic, but I'm glad to have widened my Conan Doyle horizon by reading/listening to them.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

1 Q&A with David R. Gillham, author of ANNELIES: A Novel


Q&A with David R. Gillham, author of
ANNELIES: A Novel
(Viking; On-sale: 1/15/19; 9780399162589; $26.00)


ANNELIES is a work of historical fiction that asks the question: What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust? What sparked your interest in reinventing the life of such a treasured writer?

Anne Frank’s story has always been a story of hope, and hope is the common thread of my writing. Especially under conditions where it’s hard to imagine that such a thing can survive. Probably the most famous passage from Anne’s diary is dated in July of 1944, and in it she writes that, even in the face of war and persecution, she still believes in the basic goodness of people. But the question has been asked, could she still have believed this after experiencing the horrors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen? It is a challenging question, and one, which I wanted to try at least to answer. This novel is my attempt to do so.

How did you approach writing about a Holocaust victim? How are you able to provide validity to Anne’s story?

As I wrote this story, I was constantly aware of the fact that Annelies Marie Frank was a real person, a person who wrote what would one day become an important addition to world literatures. And yet she died tragically as one of millions of unknown faces. In imagining a life for her had she actually survived, I hope to accomplish two things: to give Anne the life she was cheated of and, through telling the story of one girl, to tell the stories of all the “Annes,” thereby underscoring the lost potential of the millions who perished. Anne Frank’s legacy is one of hope, and it is my hope that if I can offer a reminder of what has been lost, we can dedicate ourselves to repairing the world.

How did you set about researching the novel? How did you use your talents as a novelist to imagine Anne’s story?

In writing this book, my priority has been to honor Anne’s story with honesty and accuracy, so I have remained true to the facts, as I understood them. I’ve read deeply, delving into Holocaust histories, biographies of Anne Frank, and her father, “Pim,” memoirs and transcripts of interviews of people who knew her, as well as studying her diary itself. I’ve traveled to the Netherlands twice in researching ANNELIESTo be better educated in the Jewish experience in Amsterdam, I’ve visited the old Jewish Quarter, the former Diamond District, and the Jewish enclave in the Transvaalbuurt, once left in ruins by a freezing population desperate for firewood. And specifically in relation to Anne Frank’s life, I’ve seen the bookshop where she likely picked out her tartan plaid diary, the Jewish Lyceum where she and her sister, Margot, were sent to school during the occupation, and the former Gestapo headquarters where the Franks and their friends were first detained after their arrest. I’ve explored the Frank family apartment in Amsterdam’s Merwedeplein complex. And, of course, I’ve spent hours inside the Anne Frank House itself. I’ve followed Anne Frank’s path from Amsterdam to the remains of the transit camp Westerbork in the northeastern Netherlands, to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where all the inhabitants of the “House Behind” were shipped by the Nazis on September 3, 1944, to Bergen-Belsen inside Germany, where Anne and Margot Frank died of typhus months later. Through study and access to these resources, I have done my level best to portray the historical backdrop against which the Franks lived with authenticity, sincerity, and respect. 
The portion of the novel set during the period before the Franks went into hiding fictionalizes a chronicle of events recorded in Anne’s diary, although that timeline has been slightly adapted to accommodate the drama, and the dialogue of the characters largely imagined. The dramatic action of the novel after the return of my character “Anne” from Bergen-Belsen is completely fictional of course, though the background of events against which the action unfolds is based on my research of actual postwar history.

Your last novel, City of Women, was also set in World War II. What attracts you to writing historical fiction, specifically in this time period?

I’ve always been drawn to the past, and consider myself a life-long student of history. I think that history offers many lessons to the present, and that, as a novelist, I am drawn to portraying the parallels. As far as the Second World War is concerned, it seems to me that its sheer scope and tragedy continues to exceed our ability to understand it. So we keep trying. Certainly there have been other brutal and scarring calamities in the length of human history, but few if any have so irrevocably changed the face of the world, and still resonate so widely and deeply. We are living today with the consequences of that war. 

One of the most important relationships in the novel is between Anne and her father, Otto “Pim” Frank. How did you develop this father-daughter relationship, both before and after their traumatic experiences?

Dramatically, Anne and Pim represent two different approaches to redemption after trauma. One approach  (Pim’s) refuses to dwell in the tragedies of the past, and looks only toward a better future. The other approach (Anne’s) refuses to relinquish those tragedies, and by facing them, must try to overcome her own anger and guilt. Both paths may to lead to redemption and forgiveness. Both are valid, even when in conflict, because both are fueled, in the end, by the power of hope. Hope is at the heart of ANNELIES.

In developing the fictionalized relationship between my characters of “Anne” and “Pim,” I read biographical and historical works, such as those produced by Mellissa Müller, Carol Anne Lee, and R.W. Jansen. I watched dramatic performances based on Anne’s experiences. I studied accounts of their father/daughter relationship and their personalities left by friends such as Miep Gies. I watched and re-watched postwar film interviews given by Otto Frank, and listened to the stories of the late Cor Suijk, who knew Mr. Frank personally. But really it was Anne Frank herself, in the pages of her diary, who provided me with the contours and depth of their relationship, which I have attempted to portray and upon which I have extrapolated. 

Did any other writers inspire you while writing ANNELIES?

I had not actually read Anne Frank’s diary until I read Philip Roth’s novel, The Ghost Writer. In it Roth’s protagonist, Nathan Zuckerman, imagines that a young European woman in her twenties, whom he meets at the home of his mentor, is actually Anne Frank. It’s only a moment’s fantasy really, and Nathan quickly realizes that it’s his willing imagination at work. But it was The Ghost Writer that inspired me to pick up Anne’s diary and read it. I was thunderstruck. Not just by her insight and humor, but by her subtle brilliance as a writer. 

Much later on, Cynthia Ozick wrote an article in The New Yorker entitled, “Who Owns Anne Frank?”  It was quite a controversial piece in some ways, but what I recall most was when she asked the reader to consider what important works Anne might have produced had she lived. And that’s when it hit me, hanging onto a strap on the A-train on my way into Brooklyn, that some day I would write a novel about Anne Frank having survived. 

And then, of course, there are the many writers who experienced the Holocaust and bore witness, Eli Weisel, Isabella Leitner, Primo Levi, Etty Hillesum (the Dutch writer whose journal and letters were published after her death in Auschwitz.) Also there are the memoires and reminiscences of those who knew Anne Frank personally, such as Hannah Pick-Goslar, Eva Schloss, Nanette Blitz Konig, and Jaqueline van Maarsen. And many, many more survivors, on whose courageous testimony we have come to depend to form our understanding of what cannot be understood. 

What do you want people to take away from reading ANNELIES?

That hope can survive. That in the face of all obstacles, in the face of destruction, in the face of despair, hope can abide. In fact, it must abide. That is the message of the book. And that, I think, is what Anne Frank tried to tell us. 

 

To Read, or Not To Read Copyright © 2010-2019 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates