Over Memorial Day Weekend I announced a Summer Reading Series, reading and discussing one book a month.
Friend and blogger, Amelia Bartlett, selected our June book. Published in 2015, I know most of you have read it already. If I'm honest, the subject kept me away, but I'm pleased I read it. Having traveled throughout France, and countries impacted by the Holocaust, I was able to imagine the landscape and villages. Written with elegance and care, I believe most approve of how the sensitive topics were documented.
A whopping 440 pages, I had to make myself slow down and enjoy the time of reading this book... it's a page turner.
When I travel to cities, I seldom make time to visit museums, choosing to walk the streets and feel the city. In recent years, I have walked streets and neighborhoods in Hungary, Germany, and France. I could feel the Holocaust in these cities. German buildings have bullets and explosions still visible to the eye. Visiting the Shoes Memorial in Budapest, and knowing all of the communist statues have been removed. I forgot about how horrible WWII was for France.
Page by page this book tells a heartfelt story about the women left behind. Daily life gets harder every day. Resistance and wartime providers. Hopeful to lost hope. I may be late to the party, but this is a wonderful story. Read it!
Discussing the book with three questions
I selected the questions below from Kristin Hannah's website, careful to pick questions that do not reveal too much about the book (no spoilers). If you are reading with use, leave a comment with your thoughts on the book. Did you love it as much as I did? Did you cry?
1. Why do you think Kristin Hannah chose to keep the narrator’s identity a secret in the beginning and end of the novel? Were you surprised by who it turned out to be? Did you go back and reread the beginning of the novel once you finished? Were you satisfied when you discovered who was narrating the novel?
I knew who the narrator was from the beginning, but Amelia was shocked when it was revealed. I love that she had this experience! The story that unfolds after we learn who the narrator is satisfying.
2) The sisters Isabelle and Vianne respond to the war in very different ways. Isabelle reacts with anger and defiance, risking her life to join the resistance against Nazi occupation. Vianne proceeds with caution and fear, avoiding conflicts for the sake of her children. Who do you admire—or relate to, or sympathize with—more, Vianne or Isabelle? Discuss your reasons.
I admire Isabelle's strength and desire to act. Her reaction was loud and daring. Vianne is a woman/mother/wife, discovering her determination to care for many.
I would be wishing for strength like Isabelle while waiting for the men to return. People often tell me how strong I am, but they would be surprised to hear moments of my life story... I wouldn't describe myself as strong. Caring, compassionate, stoic yes. Fierce and defiant no.
3) The book captures many of the era’s attitudes about men and women. Isabelle, for example, is told that women do not go to war. Vianne is confused by her new wartime role as provider. Their father, Julien, is cold and distant, unwilling to fulfill his parental duties after his wife dies. Have gender roles changed much since World War II? Have women always been strong in the face of adversity, but not recognized for their efforts? Vianne says that “men tell stories…women get on with it.” Do you agree with her?
I do mostly agree with this statement. A few women may tell the world their stories but most are just getting through the day caring, loving, doing.
July Book Selection
I have read plenty of summer beach reads already this summer so I thought we might read something different. The July book selection was published mid-June, with a goodreads rating of 4.3 (out of 5).
Are you interested in reading this book with me?
I glanced at the book while standing in Target today. This is going to be a fun book! I like to buy from my local book shop, or I would have purchased a copy today.
Click here to order a copy of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on Amazon (they are taking over the world), or buy a copy from your local book shop.
I will post a review and three questions at the end of July.
Happy Reading, Mari