Monday, September 2, 2013

Vacation Reads

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

I always like to read one of Hilderbrand's books on summer vacation.  This wasn't really one of her best in my view.  The book deals with the wedding of Jenna - she plans it all based on a notebook left by her deceased mother who wrote out plans for the wedding when she realized she would not live to see the day.
We learn about the wedding from many perspectives, Jenna, her sister Margot, her father Doug and his new wife, her fiance Stuart and his parents as well as various friends.  There are the usual liaisons and relationships, misunderstandings and reconciliations.  All of it is frankly a bit morbid as it alternates with excerpts from the dead mother's notebook.  But the book was, as always, an easy vacation read.

Under the Afghan Sky by Mellissa Fung

This is a memoir by the Canadian journalist who was kidnapped by thugs in Afghanistan and held in a hole for about a month.  The story includes various letters she wrote to friends and family while in captivity as well as letters written to her by her journalist boyfriend.  The story is horrifying but Fung's courage, faith and even humour carried her through.  It was interesting to hear how she developed a sort of friendship with one of her captors - to the point where he suggested exchanging e-mail addresses to keep in touch.  This read more like a long magazine article than a book but it was well written and I recommend it.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

This is a very interesting story of a Polish couple and their child who were separated during World War II when the husband went off to fight the war, lost his division before he even trained then escaped through the underground network to France and eventually England where he fought with the RAF.  Meanwhile, his wife was forced to flee her apartment when a Nazi officer took advantage of her and survived with her son in the forest until she was found by her husband in a displaced person's camp.  They reunite in England and you can tell early on that both husband and wife harbour terrible secrets from their time apart.  The past is slowly revealed as the chapters alternate between present day England and the War.  Once the secrets come to light the family is finally given the chance to properly heal.  This is not the best written book but it is an interesting story and an easy read despite the difficult subject matter.

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