The Night Portrait - Laura Morelli. The story of Leonardo Da Vinci's painting Lady with an Ermine shared in two story lines: In 1492 Milan, sixteen year old Cecilia, newly positioned as mistress of the Duke, sits before Da Vinci to be painted. In 1940's Munich newly engaged Edith, who cares for her ailing father while working as an art conservator, is retained by the German government to assist in the capture and cataloguing of art for the Nazi regime. The lives of both women, along with the true story of the painting and the efforts of The Monuments Men, come to life despite the occasionally stilted writing and wholly unnecessary contrived links between chapters in which the last sentence of one may be - "the paper flutters from Da Vinci's hand..." while the first sentence of the next reads "the paper flutters from her hand as Edith ..." Oh well. Who am I who has never written to write a critique?
The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner. I REALLY enjoyed this book!!! It was a quick engaging read but still had lots to say and provided much to think about. Set simultaneously in current and 1790's London, through Nella, Eliza, and Carolina we face the reality of the lives of women across the centuries. The pages are filled with history, fate, friendships, and poisons. I wish Dame Agatha could have read it. I think she would approve.
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah. While clunky in places, the flow developed and the story of occupied France during World War II, along with the efforts of the French resistance, many of them women - leading downed Allied airman to safety in Spain and protecting Jewish children from being deported to concentration camps - becomes clear and heart rending. Hannah's characters shine a bright light on the best of human impulses ~ and the worst.
The Last Bookshop in London - Madeline Martin. This time, World War II, the British perspective, particularly from London. Through the story of two girls who moved to London just before the war we experience blackouts, the blitz, nights spent sheltering in the tube line (reminding me of Lady Clementine, by Marie Benedict - the story of Churchill's wife), the power of small kindnesses and unknown strengths, as well as the value of words and stories to get us through.
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr. Probably the best juxtaposition of both sides of the participants/victims of World War II that I have read. Marie Laure, blind, living in Paris near the Museum of Natural History where her father works, flees with him to Saint Malo as the Germans occupy France, to the home of her uncle who remains traumatized by his experiences in World War I, when she is 12. Meanwhile, an incredibly bright child, Werner Pfennig, lives with his sister in an orphanage in a poor mining town in Germany. His fate is dramatically changed when recruited by The Hitler Youth where his talents are used as a radio builder/operator during the war, ending up on Saint Malo as it was bombarded by the Allies once occupied by the Germans. Perhaps, not entirely worthy of the hype, but a valuable read.
Mixed with pages and pages of articles covering everything from encephalopathy, child abuse, SIADH, refugee children, blood transfusions, racial disparities, myocarditis, the needs of homeless children as well as those in military families, food insecurity, care of adoptees and foster children... Whew! Important stuff! Plus, recertification accomplished.
Read and live chaotically! ~ les