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The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting

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  A seven-hundred-year-old stave church is being deconstructed in Norway. This is not just a wooden church, but an intricately built artefact with decoratively painted timber walls. Why would you risk the process of transporting this precious cargo to Germany?  Norway, 1880. In a secluded village of Butangen, young Astrid Henke dreams about a life beyond the valley and beyond conventional life. She already turned down two suitors, and now is viewed as restless, of sharp nature and impossible to discipline. The seven-hundred-year-old stave church in the village chimes with the bells donated by Astrid’s ancestors. The church has a new pastor, direct and unpatronizing, who wants to “stamp out all forms of superstition and folklore.” Christianity should lead to progress. By law, the church is too small and it’s dilapidated. He wants to build “a functional church, a warm church, with four wood burners,” with big and easy to clean windows, “not like those bumpy glass panes high up on the wal

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

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  San Francisco, 1906. Sophie Hocking is questioned by the US Marshal. Her husband is missing, and she waited six weeks after the San Francisco earthquake to report him missing. Why? A year earlier. Sophie after emigrating from Ireland to NYC is now traveling to San Francisco. She is to marry a widower with a five-year-old daughter who placed an advertisement looking for a wife and mother to his child. He wanted someone from the East coast where he was from. Someone he didn’t need to cuddle and who could step into a role he needed her to play. As soon as she arrives in San Francisco, she notices his absence more than she anticipated, as he works for insurance company which frequently takes him on the road. He seems to be taking care of lots of details; details he doesn’t name. She gets “accustomed to knowing very little about his stints on the road or even about his occupation…” until someone appears at her doorstep. A young pregnant woman is looking for her missing husband. Now, the q

Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

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  This story brings the little-known chapters of Canadian history which happened right after the Great Depression as an effect of it and during WWII. Toronto, 1933. Molly, at fourteen had to drop out of school and contribute to the pot as their family and as other families have been struggling around the world due to the Crash. The Great Depression has affected everyone including children. Some, including Molly and her best friend Hannah, try to hold on to some normalcy while playing baseball. But anti-Semitism is on the rise. Signs against Jews keep appearing in the store windows. Molly’s brother after weeks of looking for a job suddenly finds one. But as it turns out it is possible because Jews are being fired. There is an emergence of the hateful Swastika Clubs. One night, a baseball game turns into a riot. The story alternates between Molly and Max, Hannah’s brother. Molly and Max have mutual feelings for each other. Her family is Irish Protestant and his is Jewish. And Molly’s fam

A Betting Woman: A Novel of Madame Moustache by Jenni L. Walsh

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  “Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache.” It’s 1849. Simone Jules, at nineteen years old, arrives at the booming town of San Francisco to reinvent herself. While on a ship, she was eavesdropping for any ideas of reinvention. She is of good manners and couldn’t imagine encouraging men to play, drink and stay a while at saloon. But when she sees a deck of cards waiting to be dealt, she sees herself doing just that. She becomes a croupier of modern-day blackjack. When a tragedy strikes her again, she is off to another place and another chance at life. She learned how to be an independent woman. Now, she wants to be an independent businesswoman. She starts the first gambling house in the California town of Nevada. Moreover, her own gambling house. She indulges men in evenings of sophisticated gambling. Loved the grasping prose, the word choice, the speed of lyrical like sound carrying the story constantly forward. “I’d learned at Papa’

Revelations by Mary Sharratt

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  Margery Kempe (1373-1438) was “a mystic living in the full stream of worldly life – she triumphed in transforming herself from a desperate housewife into an intrepid world traveler and lifelong pilgrim.” England, 1392. Margery is a daughter of a trader. At the age of nineteen, the seas claim the man she loves. Thus, she marries a man her family picks for her, almost twice her age, to avoid cloistered life. Life behind the walls is not meant for her. She knows that there is so much more beyond some walls or beyond her town of Lynn. She has seen York and she craves to explore other places. While continuously giving births and to keep herself sane, she makes “weekly visits to Master Alan, the holy and high-learned anchorite who reads” books to her and feeds her mind and spirit. Now pregnant with her fourteenth child, her visions which started with her first birth have intensified strongly and she can’t stop them. She feels that she needs to act on it. And fearing that another pregnancy

The Note Through The Wire by Doug Gold

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  Based on a true story. Against all odds, WWII brings two people from two corners of the world. They both have the same mission to defy the Germans. She passes a note to him through the wire of the compound as she is searching for her brother. He can’t forget this young lady disguised as an elderly woman. Slovenia (part of former Yugoslavia), 1942. Bruce Murray is a prisoner of war at Stalag camp on the outskirts of Maribor. Through a barbed wire, he receives a note from a woman. A note written in a language he doesn’t understand. Maribor, 1942. Josefine Lobnik carries a package of documents from one partisan group to another when she encounters Bruce at Stalag camp. Recently, her brother was captured by Germans and now she searches for him. She passes a note to a stranger at a camp asking if her brother is there. Both stories go back in time and interestingly reveal backgrounds of both characters. Through his story, we get a more frivolous approach to war, at first. With his two best

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

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    The Dust Bowl during the 1930s was the worst environmental disaster in the US history, accompanied by the collapse of the economy and the effect of massive unemployment, resulting in massive migration of people from the Great Plains and other parts of the country to California. California was advertised as the land of milk and honey. Was it so? Texas, 1921. Elsa Wolcott is twenty-five-years-old. She was a sickly child forced to stay home and not able to finish her schooling. Within the comfort of her own room, she continues to take adventures from the pages of her books she devours. At her age, she is considered a spinster and unmarriageable one as declared by her mother since men desire attractive women and Elsa is not. Dalhart in Texas is part of the flat, Great Plains stretching as far as eyes could see, “a sea of prosperous land. (…) … A gold mind of wheat and corn.” Despite the Great War, Dalhart experienced “booming economic times.” This “making everyone in town rich,” in