I have just started reading books from WWII and While We’re Far Apart was a great starting point. I am a huge Lynn Austin fan. I read pretty much every book she writes because they are always so thrilling and I am never really sure where her stories will go. This book was no exception
To me this book had three stories intermingled into one another. First is Jacob Mendel; a Jewish widower living in New York and dealing with the grief of losing his wife in a terrible accident along with waiting to hear from news of his son who is in Hungary. He rents out the upstairs apartment to a man named Eddie Shaffer who has two children. Esther the daughter is upset with her father who is about to leave her and her younger brother Peter to go to war. Their mother Rachel was killed in the same terrible accident as Mr. Mendel’s wife.
Eddie attempts to have his children stay with his mother while he goes away when Penny, the daughter of the next door neighbors to his mother offers to watch the children for him. Penny is in love with Eddie and thinks that by watching his children Eddie will want to marry her when he returns from the war.
My feelings about this book are so parallel to this reivew on goodreads.com that I just figured I would share it instead of copying it into my own reivew saying the same thing.
This book raises so many important topics. It takes place in Manhatten during WWII, so it touches on how the war affected those left behind, the constant worry and wonder with limited info due to a much reduced communications system than we have now, rations, hunger, the way the servicemen were treated and greeted – all military were very valued during that time. It’s also a coming of age story. Age is explored from many perspectives – from the young to the old. I love in this book how valued and respected old Mr Mendel becomes to his young neighbors. He needed them too, but most touching to me was how much he had to offer – a lifetime of experiences and they appreciated that. I learned so much about the Jewish faith. This book really delves deeply into Jew’s beliefs – their diet, their holidays, their habits, the different ways in which they were grouped and treated. VERY interesting. We also get a slight look into how the holocaust affected Hungarian Jews, following the true timeline of what occured. I loved the addition of the Swedish guy who appeared in Hungary to save so many Jews from almost certain death. I didn’t realize that he was a “real” person until the very end where the author recognized him as a hero.
My last little note is how much I loved that this book was not all about the typical romance story. There is a touch of romance intertwined into the story but in such a downplayed way its not enough to make you sick.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a truly charming book!! It’s based during the time right after world war II when London is trying to rebuild itself (1946). You can’t help but fall in love with the characters and all their little kinks that you learn about them as the story goes along. Its a unique book in that its entirely made up by letters revolving around a young author looking for her next book. Her name is Juliet Ashton and I promise you will fall in love with her by the time you are done reading this book. Juliet receives a letter from a man on Guernsey Island who came across her name in a book written by Charles Lamb, who just happens to be his favorite author. They correspond to each other and Juliet is opened up to the literary society club on Guernsey, made up on the side of the road to get out of being punished for being out passed curfew. They call themselves the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (I have stolen this last sentence from goodreads description) Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
The book is made up into two sections; the first being while Juliet is still in London and only writing to the society on Guernsey and the second while she is actually staying on Guernsey Island herself.
All this great description being said, I truly found that I am not a fan of books made up of letters. Though there were parts that made me laugh out loud and others that I learned valuable information from, I just find that I was lost trying to figure out who was who for a long while. It truly is a charming story with great characters and if you like letters then I think you would enjoy the story. There is also rumor that the movie will be coming out soon and the best part Kate Winslet will be starring as Juliet!
EAT, PRAY, LOVE
“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
I came across wanting to read this book a lot later then most. Julie Roberts starring in the movie of this book I believe made a lot of women want to read the book just like a lot of movies do. I however watched the movie and honestly wasn’t in love with it. I thought it had some good scenes, but it didn’t make me want to run out to the store and buy it. When after reading the Happiness Project however I found Elizabeth’s book recommended by Gretchen I figured I would give it a shot, and I am so glad I did.
Eat, Pray, Love the book is by far now one of my favorite reads ever. It brought me on a roller-coaster of a emotions right along with the actual roller-coaster the author was traveling on. Her descriptions of every situation she is going through is so well written that I can actually place myself in her shoes for a moment and feel the pain or happiness she is describing. I have no idea how she manages to do it (and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way); but she finds a way to write sentences that could be torn out of her book and placed into my own journals.
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
The Happiness Project By Gretchen Rubin