Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Is this a book for you?

IT IS NOT FOR YOU if you look for fast pacing action, profound mystery,  a Harlequin love trip or the recounting of world war 2 battles. It is just not what I did.
IT IS FOR YOU if you want to travel in history with a book that pays great attention to details (smells, dresses, food, the way of thinking of the time). The story is about a French family divided by war in the town of Lille. The place is important because the town reacted differently than the rest of France. People from Lille believed that they would become part of Germany and were therefore much more resisting fascism than the rest of France. The two heroes, one French, one American travel in Portugal, Spain, Britain and Ireland, as each country had its special political flavors and problems during WW2. The heroes have in common a very unhappy childhood. Many unhappy kids never become happy adults. How does it go in this story?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Absent fathers

 WW 2 soldier, Library of the University of Illinois

There has never been as many absent fathers as during WW 2. When your father came home, you were lucky, so not much is said about the children who did not see their dad for a long time. My father was a prisoner in Germany for over five years: he came home, he did not know me, and I certainly did not recognize in that very sick, very skinny and troubled man, the happy young guy on the photograph over the mantle.
We all made do, my mom, my dad and I: we were the lucky ones. But life was not what it should have been, and it is true for millions of us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Clean Apron

 Image from http://www.la-fontaine-ch-thierry.net/

One memory I have from the 1940s is how European working class women spent their days. In the morning, they started by tending to the garden and collect the vegetables for the meals of the day. Cooking would take all morning long on a slow burning coal stove.
In the north of France, if you were lucky enough to have coffee, it would  cook and boil, then stay on the stove all day: it gave a special smell to the kitchen!
Late in the afternoon, before the men came back from work, the women would change their apron into the prettiest one and go on the porch for a chat with the neighbors.
As a kid, I often wondered about that clean apron: it did not have any use.
You see, many women born before 1900 had a strict Victorian education: they were not supposed to have fun and should always appear as if they were working. On the other end, you would not show up on the porch with the soiled apron you had been wearing while working in the yard. The clean apron was a symbol that you were hardworking, keeping up a good house and that you were not losing time. A woman with no apron at all would have appeared to be lazy or lewd, or both.
After the war, more women got a job: ladies staying home did not want an apron any more, at least not outside.

Friday, July 8, 2011

First reviews!

First reviews of my book came up on Amazon. It is encouraging!
Review by Chere Peterson
All the elements are here - intrigue, avarice, money, tyranny, ugly, raw power, passion - all circling the experiences of a extra-ordinarily bright little girl who came of age in the middle of it all in Vichy France.
For Lambert there seems to be much autobiographical material, for she truly was the little bird in the wall, right there in the middle of the War in France. The scientist in her documents the truths in footnotes. The child-poet in her relays gilded portraits of man's inhumanity to man, a family with disparate and conflicting allegiances, how Hitler ripped Germany out of the Depression and built an amazing industrial nation of war machines. Compactly written, the story weaves its way from Warm Springs, GA to England, France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal. But read carefully and you will hear this quiet voice of a little girl saying," I was there and saw it all."

Review by Dr Bob

This novel is a fascinating look at the ways in which cultural differences are reconciled in times of war, how personal relationships play a role in politics and how a hero's aspirations can prevail over difficult odds. There are ways in which certain potent moments of history inform how we currently live, and this novel will leave you reflecting on where we are today economically, politically and culturally.
An engaging and entertaining read!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The strength of music

Music has all kinds of mysterious qualities: it is well known for instance that music is healing. I always told my students that anything that they find hard to memorize should be turned into music.  They will never forget it is they sing it! Take a long mathematical equation and put it on a popular song, you will remember the whole thing fifty years from now. So, music has lots of power over humans.
One thing I noticed when I was writing this book - and I did not know this before - is that music has a truer memory of how we felt than our memory of the past.
We all lie to ourselves: ten years after something traumatic like a divorce, we have a "story" to tell about it. It is not how we felt, it is how we want the story to be. Everybody does that. So for instance, you would say: "once we decided that there were too many incompatibilities between us, the rest was easy and we are still good friends." But then you listen to a song that you liked at the time you divorced, and all the feelings of despair you felt at the time come back to you.
So, when I was writing this book and listening to songs my grandparents loved, some true feelings came back to me that my general memory ignored. For instance, how scared I was during the war.
My general memory says I was a happy protected little child. My musical memory says I was afraid of everything: the noise of bombs, the German officers, the night, the radio, hunger...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This is my turn!

I am honoring all the fiction books I can find about world war 2,  published in 2011.
Mine just came out, so let us celebrate this one too!
You can find VAGUE SOUVENIR as traditional print

at Barnes& Noble
on Amazon

and as an ebook

at Smashwords, with several formats
on Amazon for Kindle
on Google books

Jeff Shaara successful book 2011

The Final Storm, about the war in the Pacific, is the last of Shaara's books on world war 2. The Pacific war has been neglected compared to the invasion of Normandy, but it was heroic and deadly as well. You can follow Shaara on is web site here
Shaara has a talent to make his strong research come alive with small details: he describes dew on the window, and suddenly you are inside the cockpit.
His book on the Battle of the Bulge has been a huge success. Don't miss No less than Victory.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tomorrow, Richard Zimler? ww 2, 2011

I take pains to remember the authors I like: I am such  an avid reader, I am always short of reading! But once in a while, I read a great book and somehow the name of the author escapes my voracious appetite. Somehow, I had forgotten  Richard Zimler.
But I remember the brilliant, fantastic Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.
Well, tomorrow, his last novel is for sale in the US: The Warsaw Anagrams. 
It is a story about the Warsaw Ghetto. You can pre-owned it by getting to Amazon.co.uk: they have it on kindle.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The last time I saw Paris

This is the first book of Lynn Sheene. The book is fresh out of press and can be found of course as paperback but also on kindle. Lynn Sheene says that she fell in love with Paris and worked a lot to describe the town as it was at the start of world war 2.
I love the title: old people remember well that song about Paris "bright and gay" before the war. It gave its name to a movie with Elisabeth Taylor.
This book tells the story of an American lady who has marital troubles and flies to Paris at the wrong moment: the war is on. She will be involved, I guess, with at least one mysterious spy.
I cannot tell you more, I need to read this book first! But it is exciting always to see new writers.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Far to Go by Alison Pick - a 2011 Fiction Book

Alison Pick is a young Canadian poet and a novelist. She has already won awards and attention.
Far to Go is her second novel.
The book is about the fate of a Jewish family who lives in Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. The action starts in 1939 when Hitler invades the country, not only with his Army, but with his propaganda, his philosophy, his murderous obsessions.
The Bauer family does not practice their religion: they think it makes them safe: it was a common mistake of the victims of Hitler: many Jewish people thought they were safe because they had become Catholics or did not practice their religion. But nothing stopped the hate of the Nazis. One Jewish hero of my book Vague Souvenir makes the same mistake: he feels more French than Jewish, he was a French soldier during World War 1, he is a peaceful old teacher who does not understand what is going on, but he will be a victim of the Holocaust anyways.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Robert Dinsdale- a 2011 fiction book

I have not read this book, but I know the author has a very special voice. He has written a book taking place during WW 1, which describes a mythical conflict between two brothers: The Harrowing available right now only from Amazon.UK (May 2011).

If Three Miles is in the same vein, you will find the book much closer to Kafka or Dino Buzzati Tartar Steppe

Three Miles 

Description (text copied from Amazon)

It's Leeds, 1940: a city on fire. On the night of the Luftwaffe's fiercest bombardment, Captain Abraham Matthews has finally caught up with Albie Crowe, the champion of a gang of petty thieves and professional plunderers who he has been intent on snaring these past six months. Holed up in a brick air-raid shelter at the scrub end of Woodhouse Moor, Abraham and Albie wait for the sirens to end and justice to come. But word is out that Abraham has, at last, ensnared Albie Crowe. Even as the sirens wail, a gang of Albie's loyal boys are picking their way across the city to rescue their leader and fell his captor. It's down to Captain Abraham Matthews, then. All he has to do is ferry his charge three miles across the city to reach the station at the end of Meanwood Road. Along the way, there will be ruptured roads and columns of fire, killers will lurk in the shadows, secrets long buried will be unearthed and the dark history between the two men will finally unfold. It's going to be one hell of a night.
Search Amazon.com for symbolism and american literature

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The Afrika Reich - a 2011 Alternate History book

Guy Saville is a British author. His first novel, The Afrika Reich has been met with real success. A lot of people compare the story style to Indiana Jones.
The story is set in 1952. The British have made peace with Hitler after Dunkirk, and Africa is a Nazi Empire. The style is brisk, the story full of action.
The author is praised for his research, for the historical details and for the fast-pace of the story.
The main critic is that it is "Hollywoodian" in style, but that was the whole idea ...
This is the first of a trilogy.

Search Amazon.com for Alternate History

Patricia Falvey: The Linen Queen - a 2011 fiction book

I confess I have special feelings for people born in Northern Ireland and it is not difficult to find the author, Patricia Falvey, likable.  The Linen Queen is her second book set at the start of World War  2.
Sheila McGee is18 years-old and self-centered. She dreams of leaving Ireland and be free and successful in England. For that, she just has to win the annual Linen Queen beauty pageant. From then on, she has to choose between two men, and maybe become slightly less selfish.
The book is praised for good writing and accurate descriptions of Ireland.

Search Amazon.com for books on Ireland

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Frank Delaney - a 2011 fiction book

Delaney is a prolific author with several books on World War 2. His last title is The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland. The book has been dubbed "perfect for book clubs": it has a mix of action and romance and the heroes travel from Ireland to France and Germany.
The matchmaker is an Irish girl who marries an American officer who disappears. The  narrator, Ben McCarthy is a folklore collector who follows her in her quest for her husband.
The book has the charm and rhythm that only an Irish author can give. People who like it are enchanted, people who don't find it meandering. I guess that if you want action in a taut story (like in John Sanford' s or Lee Child's books), it is not for you. If you like to take your time and you delight in everything Irish, go for it.
What I like is that the author has the courage to question Irish neutrality during the war. I am giving him five stars for that: I never got over the Irish neutrality stand.

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