Cross-Generational Romance in Fiction: Review: The Great Fire: A Novel by Shirley Hazzard


My Interest

I learned of this book from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recent post Where I Get My Best Book Recs + 8 Recent Reads I Loved.

When I started this blog, I intended to focus more on my own hope-to-be-books which are, at present, still manuscripts. My focus is old man–younger woman romantic stories. Not formula “romance,” just romantic. No trophy wives. No creepers. Just honest, decent older man–younger woman love stories.  I’ve posted several reviews over the years of this blog of what I term “Cross-Generational Romance” both in fiction/film or in real life. You can use the Word Cloud to find them, or in the search box type Cross-Generational. Last week I posted a Real Life Cross-Generational Romance–the wedding of Lady Kitty Spencer and Michael Lewis. You can read that post here.

Anyway, when I read Anne Bogel’s post linked above, I thought “HOW have a missed this novel??” I went immediately to my library’s website and was thrilled to bits to find an available e-audio copy–exactly what I needed to thoroughly enjoy this book.

The Story

“My need of your words: for such closeness there should be a word beyond love.”

Aldred Leith, son of a famous writer, is stationed in occupied Japan with the British Army. The Commander’s terminally ill son and daughter, both late teens, quickly become his dearest friends in Japan. Benedict, suffering from a rare illness, and Helen, his caretaker sister, have led a life largely disconnected from their parents and are now back on the periphery of their parent’s official life. Aldred and Helen find soulmates in each other.

My Thoughts

This is a hard book to review. I listened to it, and did not have time while doing so to pull over and write down some of the many quotes I loved which is a shame. Those one at the top of this post I found on Goodreads. The delicacy of the relationship, of Aldred’s ethics, morals, and his awareness of Helen being so young are well-handled. I just plain loved this book. I will probably buy it and even let myself re-read it some day! (I’m 59–I’ve pretty much quit re-reading except for a couple of “old friends”).

I have done this book no justice and I so loved it!

My Verdict


The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard


Review: The Cookbook Club by Beth Harbison


My Interest

I love to cook. I thought the idea of a group getting together to share dishes from one cookbook sounded really fun! I’d enjoy that in real life. I also needed an audio for my commute. I then discovered this was why I’d found and enjoyed another of Harbison’s books, When in Doubt, Add Butter.

The Story

Margo’s husband walks out on her, leaving her shocked. She find a meet-up for a cookbook club in her area and goes. There she meets Aja (“Asia) and Trista. The club provides the friendships she’s been needing.

Along the way we come to know Margo’s college buddy, big-name star Max who is finding privacy, redoing the farm house Margo got in the divorce. We meet Brice and his step-brother Lewis, too, through Trista’s post-law career as a bar owner and restaurateur. Finally there is the fraught Lucinda and Michael duo–mother and son, with whom Aja is involved.

My Thoughts

While I enjoyed this story, I felt the actual cookbook club was forgotten and worked back in here and there. It may be that the marketing people fell on that for the title and that the author had not intended it to be such a big thing in the story–she may have meant to use the club’s choices for each meeting as an anchor for the chapter and marketing went over-the-top with the idea. Or maybe the first chapter sold the book and then seat-of-the-pants storytelling hijacked the idea.

I liked the characters and their stories were well told but definitely had a “seat of the pants” feel to the storytelling. The chapters alternated among the three women’s stories and the friendships grow, the backstories emerge, their lives are revealed, but then it was just over–and awkwardly with a few story lines such as that of Margo’s ex-husband. [Minor spoiler] For example, I did not see why she needed to call the police when he was in no way threatening. That was odd. Max is involved with Margo’s YouTube, and the author seemed to be setting up conflict, but that just disappeared until the epilogue in which the stories were neatly tied up.

This story was good–but had the potential to be so much better. Opportunities for conflict and subsequent character development were ignored. And, while the food was good, especially in the recipe-testing scenes in Trista’s bar, and there is added content with recipes, I thought it odd that more wasn’t done with this–maybe all of the ladies coming together to start a restaurant or cooking school with locally-sourced organic produce or something like that. I thought that was the obvious destination but perhaps that was too obvious. Instead we ended with “that’s all” basically. Too bad. That could have led to a nice sequel.

As a nice, light story, it was fine. The characters were believable and likeable. The story checked a lot of good boxes for most potential readers–cooking healthy, book club, angst about having real friends,good food, trendy activities like yoga and YouTube, restoring houses, and more. I really hoped with the great description of Margo’s “curated” kitchen in the first chapter that there’d be more of this, too, but no. The cookbooks chosen seemed pretty simple–The Joy of Cooking, Magnolia Table, Linda McCartney’s vegan cookbook and a few others of that caliber seemed less than inspired for such a group. There was zero diversity, which could have been too contrived for the story, but seems an obvious thing to miss in a foodie book. Other cultures are what makes food so interesting.

Never the less, I look forward to more from this author and will likely read more from her backlist.

My Verdict


The Cook Book Club by Beth Harbison


Also by Beth Harbison


My Review of When in Doubt Just Add Butter


Cross-Generational Romance in Real Life: Lady Kitty Spencer and Michael Lewis


Photo credit: Backgrid via The Daily Mail

Lady Kitty and Michael Lewis share a kiss after their wedding.

When I started this blog, I planned for this to be a recurring topic–whether cross generational romance in real life or in film or fiction. But, I got sidetracked a bit too often to still call it a “feature” or “recurring topic.” Happily. Lady Kitty Spencer’s dazzling wedding has brought it back to the fore on my blog–at least for today. Lady Kitty, cousin to Prince William and his brother, married a man 32 years her senior–he is older than her father, Earl Spencer, brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Both Lady Kitty and her new husband, Michael Lewis, claim South Africa as home. Obviously, Lady Kitty. 30, is an English aristocrat, but she spent most of her childhood in South Africa with her mother, brother and two sisters. Lord Spencer made trips to South Africa to be with his children and they flew to the UK to be with him as well. Her education from elementary school through university was all in South Africa. She later studied art and art history in Florence. In fact her brother, Lord Althorp, is the first Spencer heir to not attend Eton in …well….one heck of a long time. He, too stayed in South Africa through secondary school.

Michael Lewis, 62, is a businessman dubbed a “fashion tycoon” as he owns numerous popular UK and South African fashion labels. He is beyond loaded–£80 loaded plus a nice, large swath of property in pricey London. Michael is said to have proposed with a £ 300,000 rose cut diamond ring. The couple married last weekend at Villa Aldo Brandini in Frascati, Italy, with Michael’s grown children in attendance, but sans Earl Spencer to give away the bride. Instead Kitty was escorted to the altar by her brother Louis, Viscount Althorp, and Samuel Aitken, her half-brother from her mother’s second marriage. None of her royal cousins are thought to have attended.


Photo: German Larkin

How amazing is this gown by Dolce & Gabbana? Bespoke, hand-painted gown! Lady Kitty is the face of Dolce & Gabbana and is one of the most elegant young woman around today. I loved all FIVE of her wedding day gowns, but do not want trouble over copyright, so I’m only showing this one. Gorgeous! A gown for a lady in every sense of that word. Kitty’s actual wedding gown, the dress worn for the vows exchanged at Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati, channeled her mother’s gown worn when she wed the then Viscount Althorp. Prince William’s little brother was a page boy in that wedding. All five gowns showed off the exquisite style of Dolce & Gabbana and just how absolutely right Lady Kitty is for their creations.

This is Kitty’s honeymoon time and I wish her and Michael a lasting love match.


Photo credit: Theimagedirect.com via Eonline


Books About Female Aviators

The Forthcoming One


Due out in November, Danielle Steel’s newest deals with flying nurses in the Army’s Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron.  (Sorry, there isn’t enough information to be sure the women are also the pilots, but I’m including it anyway). Flying Angels: A Novel by Danielle Steel is available for pre-order.

The Brand New Ones


Newly published, this novel is another in the “missing aviator” genre, this time with a modern-day story of the actress chosen to play her on film.

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There–after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes–Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

Great Circle: A Novel by Maggie Shipstead.


Saint Louis, 1923. The golden age of flight has just begun, and pilot Mattie McAdams refuses to cede the skies to cocky flyboys. She longs to perform daring stunts in her family’s flying circus, but the men in her life stand in her way—including the show’s star performer, Leo Ward. They can wring their hands all they want; Mattie won’t stay grounded for long.

The Time-Tested Ones


Has a reporter located seemingly lost round-the-world aviator Irene Foster? Her Last Flight: A Novel by Beatriz Williams.


West With the Night, the memoir of real life pilot Beryl Markham the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic non-stop, led a colorful life mostly in Kenya. West With the Night by Beryl Markham.


Circling the Sun tells the fictionalized story of Beryl Markham. This was one of my favorite books of the year in its publication year. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.


While she is best remembered today as a writer and as the mother of the kidnapped Lindberg baby, Anne Morrow (Mrs. Charles) Lindbergh was also a pilot. This fictionalized account of her life is a wonderful read. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.


The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) taught men to fly and flew planes to where ever they were needed in the USA for the Air Corps. Several women died in this service, yet they are largely forgotten today.  The Women With Silver Wings by Katharine Sharp Landdeck.


The second book in a series about its heroine, Velva Jean leaves her rural Appalachian home to serve her country as a pilot in the WASPS. Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven.


Amy McGrath was the first female Marine pilot to fly a combat mission. After the Marines she ran against Senator Mitch McConnell. Honor Bound: An American Story of Dreams and Service by Amy McGrath.


Do you know of other books to add to this list? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post on female aviators.


Review: Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays by Helen Ellis


My Interest

Helen Ellis, rose to fame on Twitter as What I Do All Day. In addition to being a Twitter-phenom, she is also a pro poker player and housewife turned writer-author of Southern Lady Code, and American  Housewife as well as an early novel. I fell in love when I encountered her essay in which she thinks her husband wants a divorce, but he just really wants the crap off the dining room table. I could relate. By the way, her husband sounds just this side of perfect–so much so that he’s a literary crush of mine now.  I won’t ever Google him–it would spoil our relationship. I want him to have a cleft chin, Michael Middleton’s smile and his snazzy blue blazer, and a pair of really great Italian loafers. Swoon. It’s ok, Helen. He’s all yours. I swear.

The Story

This time around Helen has published more essays. I was pleased to see that her professional poker career was among the topics covered in this book. The first line hooked me:

“From the start of our grown-ass ladies trip to Panama City Beach, aka ‘The Redneck Riviera,’ Paige and I could see that Vicky was having a hard time.”

Never mind poor Vicky’s suddenly-empty nest, and I am truly sorry about her bad mammogram, but when it’s hot as hell here in Southern Ohio, folks head to a spot of even greater heat and denser humidity–Panama City Beach. My own [adult] kid has gone there on vacation and I have the t-shirt to prove it. So, Helen got my attention.

As she moves through the various essays, there were, as always, moments I could shake my head and say “Amen, sister.” Especially in “Are You There,  Menopause? It’s Me, Helen,” which provided my favorite quote [the punctuation may be a little iffy here because I listened to the audio book]

You need “all the tampon sizes: mini golf pencil, dill pickle spear, rolled up newspaper, Nerf baseball bat.”

My Thoughts

I love Helen’s humor, but this time she strayed into the crude a bit more than I’d like. It sells–I understand. I’m not dissing her or abandoning her. I just could have done with less of that, although the question she asks her husband after the guests leave is one I’ve discussed with my long, long, ago ex-husband, and various other guys with whom I have had a romantic relationship. Nonetheless, less is more.

I loved her take on the Greyhound bus to Atlantic City and her tales of the poker table. I’ve been curious about her poker career. Watching poker or watching bridge on t.v. is less exciting to me even than watching a foreign stock exchange ticker so I’ve never seen her if she’s been on any poker shows on t.v.

In spite of being disappointed in a couple of these essays, I am already looking forward to Helen’s next book–whether it is essays, short stories, a novel, a history of delis in Manhattan or Garage Sales in Alabama for Dummies.

My Verdict


Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays by Helen Ellis

Southern Lady Code and American  Housewife


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island


Desert Island….hmmmm… no volleyball, no Ginger, Mary Ann, or the Professor. The professor would LOVE my Kindle–I could load it up and he could figure out a way to recharge it with coconut cream pies and sunshine. Guess I’ll need to stick to print books though.



The One

In the 1970s there was a version of the Bible–The Book–and it had a catchy, fast-pasted jingle about “come on America, discover The Book.” (See below). It had it all–“romance and mystery” etc. The ad was right. Weather you read it as literature or read it in faith The Bible has it all. I’d want this version because it has even more–it has maps, explanations, and commentary articles. While it might be nicer to have a side-by-side King James and NIV for the beautiful language of the King James Psalms, I’ll take this version, this translation.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible

Diaries and Letters

I would want a couple of good juicy diaries and letter collections. James Lees-Milne’s diaries in a one volume compilation would be perfect. Lots of juicy gossip. Pepys, too, for I’ve never finished reading his great diary. For letters someone interesting like, Queen Victoria or a Mitford sister or some other erudite person who led an interesting life. A fictional diary or letters collection would be fun–maybe another outing of the Provincial Lady would be a good fit.

Travel Books


Paul Therox always comes to mind, and there are a few of his I haven’t read, but political travel by John Gunther or Martha Gelhorn or Lorena Hickok’s WPA reports would also be good. I’ve got this one going–maybe I’d take it with me? The Grand Tour: Around the World With the Queen of Mystery. Agatha’s travels might just be the thing.


Although I don’t normally review them (because I don’t read them cover-to-cover) I enjoy dipping in and out of cookbooks for part of my reading pleasure. Stuck on Gilligan’s Island with only Mary Ann’s endless Coconut Cream Pies, I’m pretty sure I’d want a cookbook or two to savoir. Here are a couple that have recently caught my eye.

History and Nonfiction

While Prince Harry and his wife are doing their utmost to destroy any interest I have in my royal library (once so lovingly collected) I’d still need some history. Plutarch’s lives or Gibbons Decline and Fall would be ideal–something to really sink my teeth into. I’d likely want something from on the Civil War, WWI and WWII as well. A biography or two. Maybe some other type of nonfiction. And, of course, I’d want my favorite historical couples along, so Nicky and Alix would be there.

Music, Comedy, and Fun stuff


Books of Noel Coward’s plays and lyrics, songbooks of the Beatles, Doonesbury cartoons, Far Side cartoons and maybe one silly book like a Mad Libs. Maybe my Catmas Carols book or some cat poetry, too.

Some Beauty


,A book of photos of Jeremy Irons, George Clooney, Simon Williams and a few others to dine with. The Edwardian Lady’s books, would be a lovely thing to look at–to remind me of the seasons. An art book or two. a book of country house pictures, when my hut grows dreary. A nice book of horses, dogs, and cats would be perfect company just about any day.

A Box of Old Friends

Scarlett & Rhett, Ralph & Meggie,  Kerry & Missy, Auntie Mame, James Herriot and friends, Calin Becker, The Ladies of the Club, and so many others who would cheer me up when I got too lonely. My own characters, from my yet-to-be-published books would be my greatest comfort though.



I’d miss my series books–The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Chief Inspector Gamache most of all, but in addition to the favorites box, I’d need some fiction I’ve never read before, too. War and Peace would fill the bill well. Proust perhaps, too. So many great authors I haven’t gotten to yet–any of them could make the journey with me.

Would you pick any of these? Leave me a comment. Or give me the link to your TTT post.

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.


Review: Pumpkin by Julie Murphy


My Interest

Julie Murphy is one of the voices of this current generation. She is amazing! I loved Dumplin‘ and I loved Puddin’ the other two books in this trilogy. I also loved Ramona Blue. Julie Murphy gets high school. She understands the kids on the sidelines. (My reviews of her previous books are linked).

The Story

Like Dumplin’ and Puddin’ this book takes place in Clover City, Texas. Waylon and his twin sister Clementine (their parents, he says, “won the queer lottery”) are both gay. They go to high school with WIllowdean, Beau, Millie, Calie and the others from the previous books. Waylon is a self-proclaimed fat, gay guy who hides in the polo shirts and cargo shorts his Mom buys him. He’s spent his life trying to stay out of way of the jocks and cliques in his high school–his best friend, other than his twin sister, is the school’s nurse with her amazing collection of wigs. He adores his grandmother and loves to watch a drag queen show Fiercest of Them All. Now, a few weeks before high school graduation Waylon’s world is about to change in some amazingly good ways, but how can he ever suspect that when his sister shares a video he made of his own “just for fun” audition for Fiercest? And then there’s the Prom Court to deal with. Hold on, folks, this is a fun ride, bumpy, back roads ride–a Texas-sized back road, of course, taken at full speed in a pick-up truck named Beulah.

My Thoughts

What I love about Julie Murphy’s books is that they are not only about the gay or queer kids–they about all of those for whom high school is not fabulous–though also not necessarily unendurable. The kids in her books are smart, capable, and may even have a great plan for their life. They may take a stand. They are believable. That’s the big thing. These are not characters written by people who have no contact with kids of today.

I absolutely adored Waylon. I totally understood wanting to be invisible in high school. I loved, too, that he was becoming a man–gaining confidence, leaving boyhood behind at his own pace. He was mature in the right ways–he had not, as he put it, “gone all the way” and it didn’t bug him. He appreciates the great parents he has, he adores his grandmother, and genuinely likes being with his family. As he puts together who he wants to be–really be–even at Clover City High School, he shows the confidence a loving family gives a child. He finds his self-respect and embraces it. We don’t all do that. He finds role models for who and what he wants to be and is respectful toward them.

All of this might sound overly precious, but I assure you Julie Murphy does not do “precious” unless it’s snarky or someone’s nickname. This book was totally today, fun, and respectful to all–even to a church. That was a great surprise. Kids need to know that “all X” cannot be said about any group. I applaud her for that, especially. I sat in my driveway listening to “more” each night when I got home. I couldn’t bear to turn Waylon and Clem and and their story off.

Today I have a massive book hangover. That, to me, is the hallmark of an excellent book. Special shout out to audio performer Chris Burris who totally rocked Waylon’s story.

My favorite quote

“Nothing says high school lesbians in love like wearing each others’ combat boots.”

My Verdict


Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy’s new book, If the Shoe Fits (not a Dumplin’ book) comes out on August 3rd and is available now for pre-order.



Books to Go With the Summer Olympics: Nonfiction



Forgive a proud alum a little brag! Mark Spitz may be the most famous but there are more I.U. grad-olympians that just the great post-boy swimmer.

Indiana University Olympians: From Leroy Samse to Lilly King by David Woods


I wish I had learned of this book earlier–I’d have read it for a review this week. This sort of book always grabs my attention. It’s nonfiction, but with real story to tell.

Dreamers and Schemers: How… the 1932 Olympics Transformed L.A....by Barry Siegel


Discover the astonishing, inspirational, and largely unknown true story of the eighteen African American athletes who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, defying the racism of both Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thraser


From the first modern Olympic Games to the present, Below the Surface: The History of Competitive Swimming covers all the greatest moments, top rivalries, legendary swimmers, and biggest controversies in swimming history.

Below the Surface: The History of Competitive Swimming by John Lohn


The Fencers is the third volume in a trilogy of autobiographical Cold War Escape stories. It is both an immigrant’s narrative of seeking a better life and a brighter future and a sports memoir focusing on two Olympic fencers, one representing Canada, the other Romania. Most of all, it is the account of the author’s friendship with Paul Szabó, a Romanian-Hungarian epée fencer, Szabó’s love for a young woman he married and her tragic death.

A self-published book, but it still sounds very interesting.

The Fencers by Geza Tatrallyay


This is not a new book, but to leave out David Halberstam would be doing an injustice to the Olympics. The Amateurs tells of four men trying to compete in the 1984 Olympics in the single scull races in rowing. While it lacks the hard-luck story of Boys in the Boat, it is still a great work of sports literature. I somehow missed it in 2016, so I’m including it now.

The Amateurs by David Halberstam


A modern gangster cashes in on the London Olympics; business, politics and police corruption undermine the operation to stop him.

Legacy: Gangsters, Corruption and the London Olympics by Michael Gillard


The summer of 1984 was a watershed moment in the birth of modern sports when the nation watched Michael Jordan grow from college basketball player to professional athlete and star. That summer also saw ESPN’s rise to media dominance as the country’s premier sports network and the first modern, commercialized, profitable Olympics.

Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 by L. Jon Wertheim

But what about…? Boys in the Boat? Eric Liddell?

These were all out and in my posts for the 2016 Olympics–click on the book’s title below to go to my review of For The Glory or The Three-Year Swim Club. Boys in the Boat is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. The PBS documentary version. The Boys of ’36 (from the show American Experience) is excellent as well, as are both the book and movie of Unbroken.

Click here to see my favorite summer Olympics moments–this is pre-2016 Olmpics.


Books To Go With the Summer Olympics! Fiction


image credit

Olympic-ish Books


Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri … Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations.

Based on a True Story, but fictionalized


Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women’s Olympic Team by Elise Hooper

One of two novels here set at the 1936 Olympics, Fast Girls is a good read. Click the linked title (above) to go to my review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


“Based on the devastating true story of Somalian athlete Samia Omar, this award-winning Italian novel offers a timely and unforgettable insight into the refugee experience.”– Sam Baker, The Pool

Fictional Olympics Stories


Girl Runner: A Novel by Carrie Snyder

As a young runner, Aganetha Smart defied everyone’s expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because this was the first Games in which women could compete in track events—and they did so despite opposition. But now Aganetha Smart is in a nursing home, and nobody realizes that the frail centenarian was once a bold pioneer.



Bliss Remembered: A Novel by Frank Deford

Fun Fact: I once sat in front of Frank DeFord on a flight to D.C.. I recognized him by his voice as he dictated a future NPR commentary–which I later heard him deliver on the radio.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, American swimmer Sydney Stringfellow finds herself falling in love with Horst Gerhardt, a dashing young German. When the rising tide of global conflict tears them apart, Sydney returns to America, where she finds love again—in the arms of Jimmy Branch, an American man who takes her hand in marriage before shipping off to fight in World War II. And that is when Horst reappears in Sydney’s life, drawing her into a dilemma of passion, betrayal, and espionage.


The Games by James Patterson

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil knows how to throw a party. So it’s a natural choice to host the biggest spectacles in sports: the World Cup and the Olympics. To ensure that the games go off without a hitch, the organizers turn to Jack Morgan, head of the world’s greatest international security and consulting firm. But when events are this exclusive, someone’s bound to get left off the guest list.


Acquamarine by Carol Anshaw

Olympic swimmer Jesse Austin is seduced and consequently edged out for a gold medal by her Australian rival. From there, Anshaw intricately traces three possible paths for Jesse, spinning exhilarating variations on the themes of lost love and parallel lives unlived.

The Olympics open tomorrow night. Will you be watching? Can you add any other new books to this list?

Or, do you prefer your Olympics to happen in movies? Here’s my list of Olympics movies from 2016.


Review: Survivors: Children’s Lives After The Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford


My Interest

First, thank you to blogger Fictionophile whose post brought this book to my attention.

In college I took a few political science classes from a man who was the son of survivors of Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz. He grew up mostly in New York City, but remembered being used to take illegally tailored clothing to customers for his father before they made it to American. The struggle of being the only child and born to survivors was real. His father had lost another family to the Nazis. He introduced me to the book Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with the Sons and Daughters of Survivors. The book I am reviewing here, Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust is almost a companion piece to that first book.

The Story

“Children are resilient” we are told over and over. The children in this book survived the Nazi death camps, Dr. Mengele, and more. Some survived the “other” war–of being raised in hiding or raised hiding in plain sight, passed off as Christians in various countries. Their story is a different type of tragedy.

Those in hiding did not “survive” in the same way as those in the camps. Many became attached to the families that hid them, especially those who were infants or small children when their parents sent them away. Their war and their experience was not always bad, but the guilt that could come with know that was their burden. Some were rejected by their protectors at war’s end, and some rejected the birth family relatives who tried to claim them when they were finally free to do so. Those children who survived the camps knew how bad life could get and were often thought by society to be “damaged”–a stigma that could follow them through life.

The efforts to provide a stabilizing “home life” for both groups and the psychological studies done of them while in group care are the main focus of the book. There is a discussion of the ethics of this study as well discussion of the study itself.

In addition, there are stories of individual child survivors–this, to me, was the most interesting part of the book. Understandably, many started new lives in the U.S., U.K, Canada, and Israel–a fact that led occasionally to problems of a different kind.

My Thoughts

This book was so needed. It was way past time for these stories to be told. It deserves the acclaim and award nominations (not sure if it has won any yet). Soon it will be too late to learn from these one-time “child” survivors. The authors have done the world an important service in writing this book.

I recommend this book and further recommend that it be read with Children of the Holocaust (linked at the top of this review) for a full picture of children’s experiences both in the holocaust and born to survivors of it.

My Verdict


Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford