Sunday, July 10, 2016

Some Summer Reading

Although it is already July, the weather had just made me start believing that summer is here!  I am getting a lot of reading done, but need to work on reading more during the day.  I tend to only read at night.  Anyway, here are a few good books that I have read:

1) The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth.  This was a book club read and we had a good discussion about the book.  It is a generational book, covering three generations of midwives in a family. Each of the women-grandmother, mother and daughter-share their stories, with each chapter narrated by one of them.  All three have secrets that could change the family dynamics significantly.  When the daughter/ granddaughter became pregnant, her grandmother began contemplating sharing her secret.  It was an interesting story and thinking/reading about how the different options for childbirth over the past many years has evolved was thought provoking. Some (okay, a lot) of the characters were not especially likeable and hard to feel empathy for, but I thought the grandmother's story was quite interesting. Easy summer read.

2) When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel. This was another easy summer read, but I really liked
the story.  It was also a generational story, but in a different way.  An unemployed freelance writer, Emily, received an unexpected package from Germany one day and when she opened it, she found that it was a painting.  She then realized that she recognized the woman in the painting. The painting was of a young woman in a red dress standing in a sugarcane field with a violet sky in the background. Emily recognized it as a painting of her grandmother who was deceased. There was a note with the painting stating "Your grandfather never stopped loving her."

Emily had never known her grandfather and her grandmother never talked about him.  Her grandmother had raised Emily's father on her own.  Emily and her father were estranged, but her father was trying to become a part of her life. After the painting arrived, Emily reached out to her father for information about her grandmother and the painting. Together (reluctantly on Emily's part), they began to search for answers.

Their quest led them to connections in the sugarcane fields in Florida, the POW internment camps history from WWII, Germany and Georgia. Again, I found the grandmother's story fascinating! The story reaffirmed love and connections in families.

3) The Girl Who Wrote In Silk by Kelli Estes. This was a book recommended by a friend, and I thank her for that.  It was another good book for a summer read.  And, yes, it is again a generational book.  That seems to be a theme for my summer reading!

This story was of two young women who were years apart. Upon completion of college and much to her father's dismay, Inara decided to not take the corporate job she had been offered, but decided to turn the old family estate in the Puget Sound into a bed and breakfast. As she began to assess the work needed, she came across a piece of embroidered cloth hidden away.  It turned out to be an embroidered sleeve. Inara requested help from a university professor to learn more about the sleeve.

Meanwhile, the book also told the story of Mei Lien who had been born in Seattle and lived with her father and grandmother.  Following the Chinese Exclusion Act (from Wikipedia:The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers.), Mei Lien, her family and neighbors were forced onto a ship sailing for China.  Or so they believed.

While Inara began work on the estate, she learned that a monument was being dedicated in the city park to commemorate her ggg-grandfather. However, the more Inara learned about the silk sleeve, and about Mei Lien (who Inara had found had lived in the her estate years before), the more Inara was conflicted.  Inara had learned the truth about her ggg-grandfather and it was not pretty, to say the least. 

As much as I would classify all three of these books as easy summer reads, I also have to note that I learned from each of them pieces of history that I didn't know much about.  And that especially held my interest in all of them.  Hope that you can get to the beach and read!!!

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