Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: World War II

Can a stack of long-hidden love letters from a WWII war hero inspire a heartbroken woman to love again? Reeling from a bitter divorce, Adrienne Carter abandons Chicago and retreats to the sun, sand, and beauty of Southern Florida, throwing herself into the restoration of a dilapidated old Victorian beach house. Early into the renovations, she discovers a tin box hidden away in the attic that reveals the emotional letters from a WWII paratrooper to a young woman who lived in the house more than a half-century earlier.

The old letters—incredibly poetic and romantic—transcend time, and they arouse in Adrienne a curiosity that leads her to track down the writer of the letters. William “Pops” Bryant is now an old man living in a nearby town with his handsome but overprotective grandson, Will. As Adrienne begins to unravel the secrets of the letters (and the Bryants), she finds herself not yet willing to give up entirely on love. (From Amazon.com)

 

Bubby: We’re back! Wow, what a summer. I think Sissy would agree that what we really need now is 6 months of really boring life. No drama, no excitement, no big events, nothing. But for some reason, I doubt that will be the case!

Sissy: I know. From your lips to God’s ears, Bubby. At some point during the summer, I don’t know when, we both read this book and found it to be so sweet and poignant. We knew we needed to share it with you! Two love stories happen within its pages, one beginning in the WWII era and one in the present day. The thing that weaves them all together is the bundle of love letters bound with one lavender ribbon – hence the title. And let me tell you: those letters were beautifully written. I fear in this fast paced age of texts and tweets that such lovely writing is becoming extinct. I have a bundle of love letters that my husband wrote me when we were courting. Does that make me sound ancient?

Bubby: Yes, but so does everything you say, so…

Sissy: Wow. I see your summer experiences have not polished off your rudeness! My love letters are a magnificent treasure, just like the ones in Heather Burch’s novel.

Bubby: I actually think that I do have a few letters somewhere from my dear husband. I’ll have to see if I can find them. I’m sure that they are quite romantic, just like yours.

Sissy: Not possible. My husband is the King of Romance.

Bubby: I don’t know about that. My husband bought me a yard full of sod for our 20th anniversary. And an ironing board for my birthday. Can’t beat that! (For the record, we went to Spain last month and celebrated our anniversary early, and I REALLY wanted that ironing board so…) I have to say that of the two love stories, I prefer the older one. It’s just so sweet to see love that stands the test of time. Besides which, there’s a nifty little twist that really makes the whole story sing. I could expound but then Sissy would have to kill me.

Sissy: I only want to kill you because you got to go to Spain and I didn’t.

Bubby: Get over it.

Sissy: Anyway, if we can stop talking about SPAIN, if you are looking for a heartwarming reading interlude, One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch will truly satisfy you. 3.7 bubbles from me.

Bubby: It was a wonderful story. Heather Burch does a fantastic job of evoking romance, nostalgia and hope. Loved it. 4.25 lavender bubbles.

Click HERE to buy One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch from Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is a painting titled “The Shell Seekers”, painted by her father. Penelope has recently had a heart attack which has prompted her to take inventory of the many experiences she’s had in her richly unconventional life. As her father’s works have become popular and are now worth a fortune, Penelope’s children each have an idea as to what should be done with the beloved painting, none of which Penelope likes. As she reminisces she realizes the perfect solution – one that would have thrilled her father and one that warms her own heart.

 

 

 

Sissy:  The vague memory in my head was that I loved all of Rosamund Pilcher’s books, so I decided to review The Shell Seekers, which was one of her best sellers.  While I still think the book is very good, in re-reading it I found that some of the characters live a rather more morally Bohemian lifestyle than I had remembered.  Nothing spelled out or explicit–just mentioned as part of the story.  That having been said, Pilcher doesn’t shy away from the consequences of such a lifestyle–which include unplanned pregnancies, loveless marriages, and some lost chances for true love.

Bubby: La la la la gardening, la la la la sandy beaches, la la la sunshine breaking through clouds, la la la art and romance, la la la . . .

Sissy:  What are you doing, you crazy person?

Bubby: La la  . . . what? Oh! Sorry. I was immersed in my lovely little kitchen garden in the back of my tiny stone cottage in Cornwall. You know, in my dreams! I think we should add Cornwall to

the list of places we absolutely must visit before you are too old to journey, Sissy.

Sissy:  Well I’m so glad you haven’t been sipping the crazy sauce and are just doing your usual “Dame Bubby” dream world weirdness.  I am having a significant birthday soon, so feel free to send us to Cornwall post-haste!  However, I would be glad to not be there during World War II, as some of this book is.  No bombs or rationing, please darling.

Bubby: As much as I would love to whisk you away for your significant birthday (70 is the new 30, darling!) I am afraid all my money is currently going to pay the plumber who is at this moment filling my home with strange fumes and has turned off all my water. So if I get a little loopy today, it’s the plumber’s fault, ok? I am always shocked when I read WWII era books at the deprivations ordinary people had to suffer through. No gasoline, no sugar, no chocolate!!, no new clothes, make it all yourself or go without. I feel quite spoiled. The Shell Seekers moves seamlessly from the WWII era to modern-day (about 1984 or so).

Sissy:  Okay, so our main character Penelope is minding her own business and living her life in Cornwall, when she suffers a heart attack.  This is the beginning of her life story. And p.s., in the far-flung future when I turn 70, I will be the sexiest 70 yr old you’ve ever seen!  Any hoodle, Penelope’s 3 children appear and we get to know all about them and their lives.  Two of them are completely selfish and bratty, and the other is at least a functional and compassionate adult.  Each chapter is named after a character in the book, and the reader gets to travel back and forth through time and enjoy the ins and outs of the family saga.  There is a lovely little art mystery woven in there as well.

Bubby: While I was reading this earlier in the week, one of my teenagers was giving me grief and I was getting rather annoyed. And then I read more about Noel and Nancy and Olivia, Penelope’s children, and suddenly my kid didn’t seem so bad!

Sissy:  No, your kids are not greedy, backstabbing monsters who think they are entitled to everything and want to do nothing to earn it.

Bubby: Thank you, Sissy! I was appalled at the behavior of the so-called adults in this tale. At least Olivia had some sense and feeling and it was obvious that she was her mother’s favorite. My favorite characters, at least two of them, were Antonia and Danus. They were so sweet to Penelope and so in love and deserved all the good things that happened to them!

Sissy:  A sweeping saga of family, love, and history, The Shell Seekers is good for an afternoon or two of getaway-ing.  I give it 3.75 bubbles.  And now I want to watch the movie!

Bubby: And it’s been made into not one, but two movies! One in 1989 starring Angela Lansbury as Penelope and one in 2006 starring Vanessa Redgrave, both of which were well rated (but 2006 sounds better). I can see a movie and popcorn night in mine and Sissy’s future! 3.5 bubbles.


Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has left a family party to escape to her childhood tree house t0 dream about the boy she likes and the future they might have together.  The tree house overlooks the long country lane that leads to the family farm, which gives Laurel an excellent view when a stranger comes to visit.  Suddenly, Laurel witnesses a shocking crime that will change how she feels about her family, especially her mother Dorothy, forever. Fast-forward fifty years into the future and now Laurel is a famous actress.  The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Laurel knows that if she is ever to find answers about what happened so long ago, she must get them now. As we learn the true story, we travel from pre-WWII England, through the war, to present day. It is an intriguing story about love, secrets, and unexpected consequences.

Bubby: I wasn’t initially thrilled with this book. I enjoyed the story but was confused about how it all was going to come together. Then boom! The last 50-100 pages are amazing. Riveting. I want to go back and read The Secret Keeper again now that I know what happens.
Sissy: Well, I don’t want to go read it again until maybe 12 months from now when I will have forgotten everything that I read.
Bubby: It won’t take you 12 months to forget everything. 12 days, maybe.
Sissy: I will ignore Bubby’s snarky comments because I won’t remember them 12 days from now anyway.  Kate Morton writes so beautifully I could weep.  I do not know how old she is but I hope she has 127 more lucid years so she can keep writing lovely books. Some authors have one distinct style.  For example, Terry Pratchett is a magnificent satirist, Mary Higgins Clark is riveting in her suspense and Donna Andrews does light fluffy cozy mystery. But for me Kate Morton does it all with such stylish flowing prose that you feel as if you were living the story.
Bubby: I agree that her writing style is divine. When I am reading one of her books I can immerse myself to the point where I begin to believe I am British. I often wonder if I was British in a former life or was born in the wrong country. I wonder if there are Brits out there who dream of being Americans and go around speaking in American accents and having whatever the American equivalent of tea time is. For some reason I doubt it. Anyway, I have forgotten what my point was (gee, I feel like Sissy!) so on to Sissy.
Sissy: Ethnologically speaking, Bubby, you ARE British! So, Happy Christmas! OK. I was telling my 21-year old daughter about this book, The Secret Keeper, and she immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was in the category of “depressed middle-aged women” books (that’s what she calls some of the books I read). You can see that she takes after her Aunt Bubby – rudeness is hereditary. I could give you an example of one of these books but I don’t want to offend any of the depressed middle-aged authors out there. However, in this case, my daughter couldn’t be more wrong. The Secret Keeper has young love, old love and middle love as well as adventure, mystery and intrigue. And it’s appealing to anyone in our targeted demographic, unless they’re like my niece Olivia, who claims to only read on a 5th grade level (Olivia, you would like this book!).
Bubby: “Middle love”? What in the teacup is middle love?
Sissy: Could be romance for Hobbits? Or maybe in the middle of an epic romance? Or perhaps love for depressed 50-year olds? The possibilities are endless.
Bubby: Oh, I see. It’s just something you made up and you have no idea what it means. I’m good with that. I really love books where the characters are well thought out and described – I felt like if I were to pass one of the characters in the street I would know them, just from reading the book. I enjoyed the relationship between Laurel and her sisters and her brother Gerry. She simply adores Gerry – he is the baby of the family and who doesn’t adore the baby? – and loves her sisters even when they exasperate her. Having recently dealt with caring for an elderly parent, I could really relate to how the siblings banded together to care for their mother Dorothy in her last few days. It is often difficult for an author to transition between time periods, in this case primarily the 1940’s and present day, but Kate Morton does it seamlessly.
Sissy: In case you wondered, Bubby IS the baby of our family. And like Gerry, she was horribly spoiled from Day 1 but turned into a reasonably presentable adult.
Bubby: Thanks for that, Sissy, I think.
Sissy: I also love, love, love Morton’s seamless transitions between time periods. I feel like I got three or four stories for the price of one. I give this book 4 1/2 bubbles. I would have given it 5 (it was that good) but I suffered anxiety in the middle of it from wondering how in the heck everything would turn out alright for my beloved characters and I had to have a cup of tea (which tastes like fish spit unless you put in 3 teaspoons of sugar).
Bubby: Not sure what kind of tea you are drinking, Sissy (perhaps you should try a new brand?One not made from fishy bits?) but I also loved The Secret Keeper. 4 bubbles.
©Bubble Bath Books 2012

 Lori Shepherd has grown up with two important things: her mother’s bedtime stories of a fabulous woman named Aunt Dimity and a stuffed rabbit named Reginald. But now Lori is recently divorced, her mother has passed away and she is stuck in a dead end job. As much as she wishes Aunt Dimity was real, she knows Aunt Dimity was just a fairy tale character from her mother’s imagination. Or so she believes until she is suddenly summoned to the law firm of Willis and Willis. There she learns that Aunt Dimity was very real indeed and has just died and left Lori a grand inheritance. Unfortunately there’s a catch. Lori must go to England to Aunt Dimity’s cottage and find a secret hidden in the piles of correspondence written between Aunt Dimity and Lori’s mother over four decades of friendship. Along the way Lori realizes that Aunt Dimity’s spirit is alive, well and very ready to help Lori on her new quest. Ultimately, Lori’s entire life will change as she discovers all the secrets Aunt Dimity has left for her, as well as finding true love.

Bubby: There are a  few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.

Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?

Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.

Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.

Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.

Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different ladies in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?

Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!

Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). And lastly, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago.

Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?

Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). This first book is a solidly good mystery with a unique premise. Some of the books have better plots and storylines for me than others, but they are, as a whole, enjoyable. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would live amongst them and eat currant buns.

Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!

Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villagery. And if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC. I give this book and subsequent series 3 stars.

Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. I give the book 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton at BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2012