Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reivew: A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith



Title: A Star for Mrs. Blake
Author: April Smith
Year Published: 2014

Genre: Adult historical fiction
Pages:329
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map): USA (Maine and NY) and France

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book): Cora Blake never dreamed she'd go to Paris. She's hardly ever left teh small fishing village where she grew up. yet in the summer of 1931, courtesy of the US government, she joins hundreds of other Gold Star Mothers traveling to France to say a final goodbye to their fallen sons. American casualties of World War I who were buried overseas.

Chaperoned by a dashing West Point officer, Cora's group includes the wife of an immigrant chicken farmer; a housemaid; a socialite; a former tennis star in precarious mental health; and dozens of other women from around the country. Along the way, the women will forge lifelong friendships as they face a death, a scandal and a secret revealed.

Review: This book was slow going for me at first, so much so that I almost put it down, but since I am on vacation in the UK this seemed like an appropriate book to read. So I kept going and all of a sudden I realized I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Cora and her companions when they got to the military cemeteries, would they remain friends, and which romances would indeed endure.

Cora is a no-nonsense kind of woman: independent, clear-thinking, and sensible. That sounds boring, but she isn't; I like her. She knows that viewing her son Sammy's grave won't bring him back, but like the other mothers she wants to see for herself where he fought, died, and was buried. World War I and the years after are my favorite periods in history so this book was a good fit for me. I like the fashions, the style, the attitudes as well so that was fun to read in this book as well.

I also liked that there were multiple stories to follow in addition to Cora's: Lily, the army nurse, and Thomas, the army chaperone; Gif, the wounded newspaper reporter; and the other mothers. They all make the reader understand the era, the attitudes, and the experiences all the better. If you are at all interested in this time period, I recommend this book. I didn't know about the Gold Star Mothers and their trip to Europe, but it's fascinating.

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