Book review: The Designer by Marius Gabriel

  • Title & Author:  The Designer by Marius Gabriel
  • Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
  • Date published:  October 1, 2017
  • Pages: 388 pages
  • Genre:  biographical fiction / general fiction / historical fiction

Book Description:

In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.

Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.

Realising his genius, Copper urges Dior to strike out on his own, helping to pull him away from his insecurities and towards stardom. With just a camera and a typewriter, she takes her own advice and ventures into the wild and colourful world of fashion journalism.

Soon Copper finds herself torn between two very different suitors, questioning who she is and what she truly wants. As the city rebuilds and opulence returns, can Copper make a new, love-filled life for herself?

Buy the book:   Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Meet the author:  

Marius Gabriel is an international thriller and mystery writer.  Under the pseudonym Madeleine Ker, he wrote over 30 romance novels in the 1980s.

As Marius Gabriel he has written several mystery best-sellers, some of them historical novels. 

He has three grown-up children and currently lives in Cairo and London.

Connect with the author:   Twitter    Facebook    goodreads

REVIEW:

As a photographer and fashion enthusiast, I was looking forward to exploring the rise of fashion and the world of Christian Dior during the remaining years of WWII.  The story revolves around Oona Reilly (Copper), a young American woman stationed in Paris with her journalist husband.  After her marriage falls apart and her husband is stationed elsewhere, Oona becomes heavily involved in the bohemian art and fashion world.  This association leads her to become a protege of Christian Dior, a talented designer who has yet to establish his own design house.

Although this book is primarily historical fiction, there are several historical events relating to the war described in this novel such as the concentration camps, the severe living conditions in France at the time as well as the role the American army and the French resistance played in liberating France from the Nazis.  I found myself googling the characters and events in the book for more information and found that the events described were accurate.

Although Oona’s meteoric rise as a photographer and  a successful freelance journalist seemed “a little too effortless” to be believable I really did enjoy reading this novel.

 

Book review: Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl: A Novel by John Demos

  • Puritan Girl, Mohawak Girl by John Demos
  • Publisher:  Amulet Books
  • Date published:  (October 31, 2017)
  • Pages:  160 pages
  • Genre:  8-12 years (middle grade)

DESCRIPTION:

Inspired by Demos’s award-winning novel The Unredeemed CaptivePuritan Girl, Mohawk Girl will captivate a young audience, providing a Native American perspective rather than the Western one typically taught in the classroom.

As the armed conflicts between the English colonies in North America and the French settlements raged in the 1700s, a young Puritan girl, Eunice Williams, is kidnapped by Mohawk people and taken to Canada. She is adopted into a new family, a new culture, and a new set of traditions that will define her life. As Eunice spends her days learning the Mohawk language and the roles of women and girls in the community, she gains a deeper understanding of her Mohawk family.  Although her father and brother try to persuade Eunice to return to Massachusetts, she ultimately chooses to remain with her Mohawk family and settlement.

Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl offers a compelling and rich lesson that is sure to enchant young readers and those who want to deepen their understanding of Native American history.

BUY THE BOOK:   AMAZON    BARNES & NOBLE  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Putnam Demos is an American author and historian. He has written two books which discuss witch-hunts and has discovered that one of his own ancestors was John Putnam Senior, ancestor of the Putnam family which was prominent in the Salem witch trials.

Demos was awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize for his book Entertaining Satan. He was awarded the 1995 Francis Parkman Prize for his book The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story From Early America.

He retired in December 2008 as the Samuel Knight Professor of History at Yale University.

Demos lives in Tyringham, Massachusetts and is currently working on a new book.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:    WEBSITE

REVIEW:  

This book caught my attention because I have very good friends who belong to the Mohawk nation in Kahnawake, close to the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. One of my friends, although Mohawk, is tall and white skinned and I am told it was because there was a white captive that was adopted into his tribe several generations ago.

Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl is an excellent way to teach history to middle grade children through storytelling. Although the main character, Eunice Williams really existed, most of the details are fictional but based on the daily life of the Mohawk people.

I remember reading a very similar story as a young girl entitled “Calico Captive”. The story was similar but with a much different ending. I really enjoyed Eunice’s story and found it to be quite a page turner.

Book review: Lillian Boxfish takes a walk by Kathleen Rooney

  • Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
  • Date released:  January 17, 2017
  • Pages:  304
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / Women’s fiction

SYNOPSIS:

“In my reckless and undiscouraged youth,” Lillian Boxfish writes, “I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street…”

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”

Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now—her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl—but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed—and has not.

A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.

“Extraordinary…Hilarious…Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time—and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
Publishers Weekly

BUY THE BOOK:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   MacMillan

Meet the author:  Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. She has been recognized as one of Newcity Lit’s “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago 2016.” Her previous work includes poetry as well as both fiction and nonfiction, and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Salon, The Rumpus, and the Chicago Tribune. She works as a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at DePaul University where she teaches, among other things, a workshop on The Writer as Urban Walker. Kathleen is married to the novelist Martin Seay.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook   Twitter   goodreads   tumbler

MY REVIEW:

Eighty-five year old Lillian is going for a walk on New Year’s eve.  A very long walk.  Never the wilting violet, her walk takes her through dangerous neighbourhoods as well as old haunts. As she passes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, old memories surface as she relives her life beginning as a young career woman who rose to fame writing ads for Macy’s Department Store in the 1930s.  Her widely publicized creed that a woman doesn’t need romance or love in her life backfires when she falls completely and insanely in love with Max.  With the birth of her child, her lifestyle and aspirations change abruptly, causing her to lose her lose her sense of self.

Although this book is a work of fiction, the author’s inspiration came from the real life character of Margaret Fishback, a poet and the real highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s.

The author, herself a poet, delivers a delightfully witty and touching story of a woman who has it all, loses it all and then comes to terms with who she has become. I smiled often at Lillian’s witticisms and feisty repartee and will buy the hardbound book just so that I can re-read this wonderful story again.

 

 

Book review: A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

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