Book Report | December 2013

It’s book report time!  I feel like I just did the last book report post (check it out HERE), but it’s already been a month, can you believe that?  This month I have 3 books to share.  Two of the books were outstanding, while the third book was more of an interesting read than a page turner.

The Kitchen House

by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen HouseThe Kitchen House was assigned for my December book club meeting last week.  It is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  It does have a lot of character development, but it needs that because there are so many different players.  Once it gets going, though, it gets under your skin and you just can’t put it down.  This one took me longer than usual to read as well, which I loved.  I can sometimes fly through a book in a matter of days, but this one took me about 2 weeks.

It’s set on a plantation in southern Virginia in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  The main characters are the house slaves for the plantation.  At the beginning of the story, the plantation owner brings home a little Irish girl that has lost her family.  She is brought into the family as an indentured servant, so she is raised by the slaves in the Kitchen House.  The story follows her evolution through childhood and into adulthood, as well as the lives of her new slave family.

That’s all my books for this month! My goal for next month is to branch out a bit and bring you some books that aren’t historical fiction!! I promise!!

I have to be honest and tell you some of the story line can be tough to read given the treatment of the slaves during that time frame, but it does lend a sense of authenticity to the story.  I find it appalling that people were capable of such ignorance and hatred.  But, rest assured that is NOT the focus of the story.  The interweaving between the plantation family, the slave family, and the little Irish girl makes for a fascinating read.

If you want a book to really sink your teeth into, definitely check this one out!  After discussing the book at my book club, the consensus was that everyone really liked it, so don’t just trust me! :)

The Painted Girls

by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Ahhh…another fantastic book.  As you know from my past few monthly book reports, I love historical fiction, so I bring you yet another one!

The Painted Girls is set in Paris in the 1880’s.  It centers around the ballet community of the Paris Opera.  The main character is Marie van Goethem and in addition to being a ballerina for the Paris Opera, she was a model for Edward Degas (the painter/sculptor).  In particular, she was the model for his famous sculpture called “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years”.

The story outlines her introduction to the world of ballet and her hard fought battle to make it into the ranks of the ballerinas for the Paris Opera.  It was not easy times for these girls and a lot of them took on modeling work.  Degas, in particular, did a lot of paintings featuring ballerinas, but I believe this was his only sculpture (or at least it’s his most famous one).  I didn’t realize until I was at least half way through the book, that the main character was based on a real person.  It’s not a biography, it’s definitely in the genre of historical fiction.  The author explains at the end that she did take some liberties with the facts in order to shape the story into a workable novel.  Despite that, it’s a wonderful look into the underworld of the ballet world at that time.

The Aviator’s Wife

by Melanie Benjamin

the_aviators_wifeYet another historical fiction :)…I think I need to branch out to something a little different!  I did not find this book to be a page turner, but I did find it to be very interesting and I enjoyed the read.  The narrator for The Aviator’s Wife is Anne Lindbergh, the wife of Charles Lindbergh.  I don’t know about you, but besides knowing that Charles Lindbergh flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic and his child was kidnapped in the 1930’s, I didn’t really know that much else about the man.  I knew even less (make that nothing) about his wife.  Like “The Painted Girls”, this is an historical fiction, NOT a biography.  While the author attempted to keep things as close to reality as possible, she did take some liberties with timelines to make it fit into a readable novel.  Also, no one can ever really recreate a marriage between two people unless they were one of the two people involved.  In spite of this, I found the book to be incredibly eye opening for the history of Charles Lindbergh.  He was not the nicest of fellows. In fact, after reading this account, I can’t say I’m really a fan of Mr. Lindbergh!

But, the true star of this book was not Charles Lindbergh, but his amazing wife.  Did you know she was also a pilot?  She was the first women to get her license to fly glider planes.  She co-piloted many of Lindbergh’s flights, and in fact, he would only fly with her.  Unfortunately, the history books fail to mention her involvement.  She put up with a lot throughout her life, which was characteristic of the time she lived, but I found her insight and eventual personal growth to be very inspiring.

Well, that’s all the books I have for this month.  Next month, I promise to try to bring you some books that are NOT historical fiction!!  I promise!! :)

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