Book Review: Anne of Green Gables Series

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I find it ironic that as I write this the first buds of spring are showing up because this is one of Anne’s favorite times of the year. I know this is {extremely} delayed and I apologize, but I can confidently say that I have savored each book and made sure that I didn’t skim or breeze past these well-written books.

Author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, was born in November of 1874 on Prince Edward Island, however her mother passed away from tuberculosis with she was twenty-one months old so she went to live with her grandparents. Their home was the inspiration for “Green Gables” in the book, which is the place Anne comes to call home in the beginning. Montgomery’s childhood was full of imagination and love from nearby family members and friends. She spent time playing outside, reading, and writing hymns or poems. As she got older she continued to write more and began to get published, but she took a break from that before returning once more. Montgomery published the Anne of Green Gables series between 1909 and 1939. You can learn more about her here.

The series begins with a girl named Anne Shirley who by a stroke of luck comes to live at a farmhouse named “Green Gables” with an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla, as her guardians. Throughout her childhood she gets in lots of unintentional scrapes, but it hardly stops her from using her imagination and telling most anybody what is on her mind. While at Green Gables, Anne becomes best friends with a neighborhood girl named Diana and they become like sisters to each other. She also meets a boy named Gilbert, but becomes wrathful towards him because he calls her carrots for her red hair which she is extremely sensitive about. Other than Gilbert, Anne makes friends with almost everyone in her town.

As time passes and Anne and Diana become teenagers, things begin to change because of love, loss, and everyone beginning to make their own path for their life. Anne attends school and teaches in-between to pay for the admission. As she does so, she makes friends all over Prince Edward Island and she begins to consider romance as more than just a childhood fantasy. After graduating, she continues to teach, but is engaged and anticipates being a wife.

Anne marries and they move to her “House of Dreams” building life long friendships and learning more about love and loss and the effect they both have on the heart. Then Anne begins to have children. She has a boy named Jem, twins named Diana and Nan, another two boys named Walter and Shirley, and a little girl named Rilla. In the last two books the perspective changes from being told from Anne’s perspective to being told through her kids. In the beginning it showcases their favorite childhood places and meeting life-long friends. However in the last book, these children who are now young adults face World War I which is nothing like Anne or her generation experienced at that age. While that time brings heartache and suffering, it also results in the growth of inner strength and character. I know that is extremely broad but that is the series in a nutshell.

I have seen the “Anne of Green Gables” movies, but I really enjoyed reading the books as the movies didn’t necessarily have the same plot. I enjoy all of the interwoven stories in Anne’s life and the imagination she has. I have many favorite characters in the different books, but probably my all time favorite is Rosemary West from the second to last book, “Rainbow Valley.” I think she is very kind and imaginative without being a pushover or uneducated, and her willingness to serve others inspires me.

I would recommend this series to anyone interested as it has so many relatable characters and could be considered in the categories of drama, romance, classic, adventure, young adult, and comedy. It is a great series to read and I would not mind reading through it again. And, because it is so full of stories interwoven together, I would probably notice something I didn’t notice the first time.

My next book review is going to be, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” written by Maya Angelo and I am looking forward to reading and giving my thoughts. In the meantime, enjoy sometime outside and keep reading good books.

-Wren

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Book Review:The Diplomat’s Wife Series

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When I originally picked the book, “The Diplomat’s Wife” I believed it to be a stand alone book. However, it actually is the second book in a series, “The Kommandant’s Girl” being the first book. So if you have an interest in these books, learn from my mistake and read, “The Kommandant’s Girl” first. 🙂 I will say that I love classic books, but reading a book written in modern language was nice for a change.

The author, Pam Jenoff, was raised in Philadelphia. She attended college at George Washington University in Washington D.C. and Cambridge University in England. Jenoff accepted the position Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army upon receiving a master’s in history. Later on she moved down to the State Department and in 1996, Jenoff was appointed to U. S. consulate in Krakow, Poland. During this time she learned all about Jewish-Polish relations and the Holocaust. Jenoff left the foreign service in 1998 and attended law school in Pennsylvania. She now teaches law at Rutgers. Her website is here and you can learn more about her and her works.

The first book of the series, “The Kommandant’s Girl” is from the point of view of a Jewish young lady named Emma. She marries a Jewish man named Jacob before the German’s invade Poland, however, he leaves Emma to fight for a resistance group. As a result, she leaves their home behind and goes to her parents home only to find that they and the rest of their neighborhood were sent to a ghetto. So she goes to live with them there and meets a girl named Marta and two young men named Alek and Marek who are all involved with the same resistance group as Jacob. As she gets closer to them, they tell her information from or about him, but it is very limited. One night a member smuggles her out of the ghetto to stay with Jacob’s aunt. It is then that she has to take on a whole other identity to protect herself and ends up being hired as an assistant to a Nazi Kommander. Within the next year, Emma, known to those around her as Anna, helps the resistance gain information, but it costs her more than she ever thought and ends with disastrous results.

The second book, “The Diplomat’s Wife” is from the point of view of Emma’s friend, Marta. It begins with her in a German prison nearly dead. However, she is saved by an American soldier named Paul who tells her that the war is over. She recovers at a refugee camp and meets a Jewish girl named Rose. Also she runs into Paul once again and romance ensues, but it is short lived as he has to leave the next day. Due to a couple unfortunate circumstances, Marta and Paul end up meeting each other by surprise in Paris and get engaged. However, Paul ends up dying in a plane crash leaving Marta in London and pregnant. She ends up marrying a British diplomat who cares for both her and the child. Later, Marta has to face a connection with her past and ends up having her world turned upside down. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are some crazy plot twists in the end.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I am not a huge romance fan, but I am a sucker for historical romance more than most genres. Not only that, but I love stories that portray characters not as clear-cut good or bad. When an author can show me that their is good and bad in everyone, because that is how it truly is, I adore their writing. That is the big thing that I noticed. The main characters have depth and thoughts and are not just robots or predictable. I will say that a romance novel written in modern day has a different feel than a classic romance and at times it feels slightly (very slightly) cheesy or too coincidental, but I still enjoyed it.

I have been trying to decide, but I don’t know if I have a favorite character in the series. I like Emma and Marta both. Emma is much stronger than the characters give her credit for and Marta is smart and can think on her feet. I like them both and what I like best is even after not seeing each other for years or having arguments, they still consider each other best friends.

I would recommend this to romance fans, specifically historical romance fans. I will mention that at times in both books, sex or “lovemaking” is hinted at, but it is not graphic or detailed and the story doesn’t center around it. Just a small disclaimer.

My next book review will be on the book series Anne of Green Gables and should be up on here the last weekend of February. I hope you all enjoyed my little Valentine’s day/Romance review and keep reading good books.

-Wren

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility

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I saw the movie “Sense and Sensibility” when I was in middle school and it became one of my favorite romance stories. I bought the book awhile back, but never ended up reading it. However now that I have, the movie is still good, but the book seems so much more detailed and meaningful to me. 🙂 the author, Jane Austen was born in 1775, the seventh of eight children. “Sense and Sensibility” was Austen’s first published novel. Four of her major novels were actually published anonymously, and two of them posthumously. It wasn’t until after her death in 1817 that her brother revealed to the public that she was the author. Her books gained popularity in 1869 and continued to become more popular as time progressed, still being popular today. You may find out more about her here.

The book “Sense and Sensibility” centers around two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. In the beginning of the book their father dies and due to the laws at the time their home and most of the father’s money goes to their half brother and his wife. Their father tells their brother to take care of them, but his wife slowly whittles away the amount of money the girls will receive until it is nothing but “kind neighborly” help. Then they move into the home and Dashwood girls become visitors to their brother and his wife which offends the mother and Marianne and makes them want to leave. However, Elinor persuades them to stay until they may find a suitable new home. While they stay, Elinor meets her sister-in-law’s brother, Edward Ferris and the grow fond of each other to the point that her mother and Marianne expect they are engaged or at least headed in that direction. However, the Dashwoods move to a cottage of one of their cousins and his wife before anything can come of it.

Upon coming, their cousin Sir John and his mother-in-law attempt to matchmake and find out about any of Elinor or Marianne’s love interests. However, the Dashwoods say nothing about Edward except that his last name begins with and F. Over the next period of time Marianne gains two suitors, but only has interest for one of them. However, his abrupt departure to London leaves her devastated and inconsolable. At the same time, Elinor deals with a secret involving Edward Ferris and can’t speak to anyone about it. Both girls end up leaving for London to stay with Sir John’s mother-in-law who promises to get them both married by the end of the summer. While in London, however, both girls are forced to confront their struggles and leave London in worst shape than when they came. Then things get even worse when Marianne gets deathly sick. However, as time progresses, Marianne gets better and the girls get some resolution.

To be honest I don’t find romance to be my favorite genre, however, “Sense and Sensibility is one of those romantic stories I could read over and over and still enjoy. One reason I think I enjoy it so much is I can relate to it. My father passed away when I was a kid and while laws have changed and we never were impoverished, it is different living without a father and in a house with only women. Not only that, but my younger sister has a similar temperament to Marianne while I am similar in temperament to Elinor. The one theme or lesson that stuck out to me when I previously watched the movie was, I often thought of one sister as bad and the other as good, but both Elinor and Marianne have good and bad qualities. Elinor is more rational and composed, but she can block herself from anyone’s help and carry too much. On the other hand, Marianne is dramatic and boisterous, but she cares deeply for those she loves and would do anything out of love. Because I’ve seen the movie multiple times and had a certain mindset about both of the girls I challenged myself to look at their characters without putting them in a category of good or bad.

My favorite character is definitely Elinor. She holds everything in like I do, to the point where it feels like she’ll explode. And while her sister accuses her of having no feelings, Elinor feels deeply, but suffers silently. If you see or have seen the movie, Emma Thompson did an excellent job of portraying Elinor, but in the book she is more reserved in emotions than that. However, if she were portrayed in the movie like in the book she would seem without feelings because she was so in check and most of the struggle was in her head. I really like her and I like her relationship with her family and Edward.

I would recommend this to historical romance fans or people who want to read a romance novel in honor of Valentine’s Day. Also if you like Jane Austen novels or similarly written novels I would recommend it.

I know I said this would be up on February 1st, life got in the way and I was unable to. However, I can say for certain that my next book review will be up the weekend of Valentine’s day and will be a romance novel named, “The Diplomat’s Wife” by Pam Jenoff. I’m halfway through already and love it. I hope you all have a good week and keep reading good books. 🙂

-Wren