Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Włodawa's Wars

In the Land of Armadillos by Helen Maryles Shankman

If you think that yet another book about the Holocaust is just too much, when it comes to this collection of eight short stories, I'll have to disagree - both emphatically and respectfully. No, this book doesn't take place in any concentration camp or even in the depths of some resistance stronghold. Instead, Shankman tells us about the area of Włodawa, Poland - located on the Bug River, which is near today's Belarus and the Ukraine. While the Jews and those who helped them there didn't suffer any less because of their being in such a strategically located area, these stories of those allowed to stay there are no less poignant.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tell me who you love

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

After Harry's father died, leaving him and his brother Jack orphans, Harry finds his inheritance will keep them both far from poverty. With their good education and status, they are good catches to settle down with any moderately well off Edwardian women, so that's exactly what they do, with two of the Wells sisters. However, when his brother-in-law discovers Harry's homosexual affair, he insists Harry leave, or risk ruining all their lives and landing Harry in jail for buggery. Harry soon discovers that the government is helping colonize Canada with the offer of land to anyone willing to work there long enough and can not only survive but also make their homestead succeed.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Through a Darkened Lens

The Photographers Wife by Suzanne Joinson

In one of the most beautifully written works of historical fiction, Joinson goes from Jerusalem in 1920 to Shoreham, England in 1937 through Prudence (or Prue). Prue at 11 in Jerusalem is with her architect father and his plans to chart and change the city, with the help of Eleanora Rasul's aerial photographs. When William Harrington, the pilot hired to fly Eleanora, comes to see Prue in 1937 in Shoreham, her past comes with him.