Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Reading on a Theme: Young Women in World War I

In 2016 I did a World War I Reading on a Theme, and I'm excited to finally be doing another one.   I took a class in college on World War I and Modernism, and I'm always on the lookout for a good World War I setting. (They are much rarer than World War II novels.) My only wish is that I could have posted this in 2018 for the centennial of the war's conclusion, but alas, that was not possible, as three of these book came out in early 2019. 

The Russian Revolution:
Martha Hall Kelly's debut, Lilac Girls, was a favorite in 2016. I eagerly read the prequel which is about Caroline Ferriday's mother, Eliza, who aided Russian refugees fleeing from the revolution. Lost Roses is narrated by three women: Eliza, Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs, and Varinka, a Russian peasant. As World War I ramps up and the Russian Revolution heats up, the three women have to navigate increasingly terrifying circumstances. Reading about the terrible circumstances surrounding the Russia Revolution is always difficult, but I really liked this book. I'm excited to read Kelly's next book, the story of Caroline's great-grandmother, a Civil War nurse. Out April 9, 2019.

Coded Messages:
In 1918 Lady Mina Tretheway returns to her family home after receiving a coded telegram from her father. There she finds her missing brother's best friend, Andrew Graham and a young American, Lucas Miller. They need her help with an upcoming mission. But Hallington Manor might have a spy that could ruin everything. I really enjoyed All is Fair. I loved the Downton Abbey vibe with the big house that's emptied for war work. Plus Mina is so smart and capable, and I enjoyed watching her put the pieces of the puzzle together. Dee Garretson's book has plenty of spies, romance, danger, and adventure. It is definitely the book that's aimed at the youngest audience on this list and would be perfect for younger teens. All is Fair was out January 22, 2019.

Spies and Spiritualism:
American Ginger Stuyvesant is a member of Britain's secret weapon, The Spirit Corps, a group of mediums who confer with deceased soldiers before they pass on completely. Ghost Talkers is a fun genre-bender. It is an alternate history, a love story, and a murder mystery. The book plays with the real network of female spies who served during World War I and the popularity of spiritualism during this period in history. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery. It's a good choice if you are looking for more World War I fiction or if you are going for a spooky Halloween vibe. I recommend the audiobook which is narrated by the author, Mary Robinette Kowal, who is also a professional voice actor.

Love and War:
The Passion of Dolssa was one of my favorite books of 2017, and I was thrilled when I saw Julie Berry had a book coming out set during World War I. Lovely War is the story of two couples. Hazel and James meet in 1917, and, like so many young couples of the period, have just a few short days together. Aubrey is a jazz musician and a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment. He meets Colette, a Belgian with a beautiful voice and a tragic history, in France. This is a book about love, music, ambition, and fear. It tackles race issues and women's contributions to the war effort. Lovely War also has such an interesting framing device. It's a story told by the Greek Gods, who take turns recounting the appropriate parts. I loved it. Lovely War was out March 5, 2019.

The Spanish Influenza:
As Bright as Heaven is set in Philadelphia during the 1918 flu pandemic.The Bright family is new in town and their father is training to take over his great-uncle's funeral home business. So, that's our setting: Philadelphia, WWI, Spanish Influenza, in a funeral home. Great set-up for sure. The novel is narrated by all four Bright women, the mother, Pauline, and the daughters Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa. The war and the flu changes their lives forever, and then many years later the consequences of some of those changes play out. I picked up this book because it hit a lot of my sweet spots, morbid as they may be (funeral home setting, World War I, epidemics). I'll be reading more by Susan Meissner.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! This is my favorite era--I will be adding a few of these to my to read. Hazel and James? Someone needs to watch the original "Upstairs, Downstairs"

    Lisa at https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/


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