Margot by Jillian Cantor – Book Review

Margot by Jillian Cantor
Published by Riverhead Book, an imprint of Penguin

We all know the story of Anne Frank, thanks to the diary she kept, published by her father. Less attention is typically paid to Anne’s older sister, Margot, although we know that she, like her sister, died before the end of the war. But what if Margot survived?

In Jillian Cantor’s Margot, Margo Frank is, indeed, still alive and living in Philadelphia after the war. She no longer goes by Margot, though. Now she is Margie Franklin, a Gentile who works in a Jewish law firm and refuses to ever remove her sweater, even in the heat of summer. Margie believes she is relatively comfortable in her life, but in 1959, the film version of The Diary of Anne Frank is in theaters and everyone Margie knows is seeing the movie and wants to discuss it, bringing up memories that Margie has worked so hard to bury.

Margot is an incredibly engaging read. At its core, it is a story of identity, of the ways you can and cannot change who you really are. What most concerned me, going into the book, was how Cantor would find a plausible way to get Margot to Philadelphia and even more so to make her deny her past, but the character motivations make sense, and even Margot’s survival contains echoes of the stories of other Holocaust survivors. What ended up being the best part about Margot, though, were the ways in which Margie’s circumstances challenged her to reexamine the life she lived Before, as well as the decisions she had made after coming to America.

Margot is a really lovely book, well-written and with real heart. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – Audiobook Review

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams, narrated by Kathleen McInerney
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Putnam Books, both imprints of Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

For Lily Dane, the summer of 1938 promises to be another quiet season at Seaview in Rhode Island. When the Greenwalds move into the old Burns house, though, Lily’s idyllic summer is shattered. Lily has a history with both of the Greenwalds, she and Nick Greenwald were an item seven years earlier, at the same time that his now-wife Budgie Burns was Lily’s best friend.

Thoughts on the story:

I really like the way that Williams structures A Hundred Summers, alternating between 1938 when the Greenwalds have invaded Lily’s quiet life in Seaview and 1931 when Lily, Budgie, and Nick were seniors in college and Lily and Nick fell in love. It helps maintain the narrative tension, as events in both time periods are being teased out, and the revelations of the past (1931) are generally arranged perfectly to reflect on the present (1938). There are some events that I saw coming a mile away, but Williams kept me interested in the process of how and why things happen, as well as the reaction of her characters when they learn hard truths. By the end, I was disappointed to leave Williams’s world.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Initially I was slightly confused by the jumping of the time periods in audio, but that’s mostly my fault because I don’t really pay close enough attention to dates at the beginning of chapters. I’m bad about it in both print and audio, but in audio I can’t go back and check easily, so it is more of an issue. Once I figured out the rhythm, though, it was easy to follow along. Kathleen McInerney does an absolutely fabulous job with the audio. Her voices are fabulous, particularly her voice for Budgie Burns, which was absolutely fabulous.

Overall:

A fun historical novel. I don’t think you can go wrong with this either way, but Kathleen McInerney’s expert narration adds so much that I would remiss not to urge you to listen.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister – Audiobook Review

Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister, narrated by Angela Brazil
Published in audio by AudioGO; published in print by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

Synopsis:

On paper, Violet Epps has no problem expressing forceful opinions – she has to do it for her job as a movie critic, and she does it well. In her personal life, however, Violet is more of a retiring wallflower, unable to stand up for herself. At this rate she’s never going to be considered a fit guardian for her recently-orphaned niece. Until she has dinner at the Algonquin Hotel. While there, Violet channels renowned wit Dorothy Parker, whose ghost doesn’t stay at the Algonquin, but follows her home, trying to help her learn to stand up for herself.

Thoughts on the story:

Farewell, Dorothy Parker is a fun story of growth and self-discovery. Dorothy Parker is a nice addition, she is someone I think most people only know about vaguely, and learning more about her in this way is quite interesting.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I absolutely adored Angela Brazil’s narration in Frances and Bernard. She’s so emotive and her voice is perfect for the epistolary narrative. I had a much more difficult time with her narration in Farewell, Dorothy Parker. Brazil used a virtually identical style in Farewell, Dorothy Parker to the one in Frances and Bernard, which works fairly well for dialogue, but there is way too much emotion here in general and it becomes somewhat annoying, detracting from the listening experience.

Overall:

I really wish the audiobook had worked better for me here, because I think then I might have enjoyed the entire experience much more than I did.

For more, see my review for Audiofile Magazine.
Source: Audiofile Magazine

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck – Book Review

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin

Like Therese Fowler’s Z, Call Me Zelda is a story of the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, perhaps best known as the troubled wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, although an accomplished writer and artist in her own right. Whereas Z focuses on Zelda’s life from the time she met Scott, Call Me Zelda begins after Zelda has already been institutionalized for mental illness. Robuck’s protagonist is not Zelda herself, but Anna, a psychiatric nurse at Zelda’s hospital, with whom Zelda forms an attachment. Anna is an engaging, well-drawn character, and a very necessary one. Robuck’s Zelda is increasingly in the grips of her mental illness, and thus not truly fit to narrate her own story, devolving as she is into madness. Anna, while in the grips of pain from her own losses, is able to see Zelda and Scott’s lives a bit more objectively, despite her attachment to Zelda.

In many ways I liked Call Me Zelda even more than Robuck’s previous book, Hemingway’s Girl. The non-famous person is, in this case, integral to understanding the life of the famous one. Anna is also an incredibly engaging main character. She is sympathetically drawn with real pain and a real life of her own. She is complex and, therefore, interesting. Her appeal to rationality is a good balance to Zelda’s lack of reason.

Call Me Zelda is a lovely and engaging novel and if you’ve already enjoyed Z, Call Me Zelda picks up largely where it leaves off, making the two books a good pairing. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Edelweiss.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Other Typist by Susanne Rindell – Book Review

The Other Typist by Susanne Rindell
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

As a typist in a Prohibition-era New York police station, Rose Baker holds a certain amount of power. After all, whatever is in the reports she writes up is taken as gospel truth in prosecuting criminals. It is about as much power as a single woman who grew up in an orphanage can have in 1923. But then Odalie enters the precinct and Rose’s life. There is something about this woman, something that inspires gossip and stories. Something about Odalie also inspires friendship and devotion in Rose. As their relationship continues, Rose’s world begins to change and it might never be the same.

Oh, I don’t know what to tell you guys about The Other Typist except that it is AWESOME. You can tell very early on as Rose reminisces about her time with Odalie that there is something off, both with the relationship and perhaps even with Rose herself. What follows is an absolutely tantalizing story, all twisty and turny and amazing. The first third of the book I read over a few days, but the last two thirds I read in all but a single sitting because once it gets going it gets going like whoa.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book for you, but OH MY GOSH GO AND READ IT.

Highly recommended, as if you couldn’t tell.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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