Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Nevermore: Dovekeepers, Bookshop of Yesterdays, Paris Seamstress, Spy and the Traitor, Alice Network, Great Mortality

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore started their meeting off by sharing The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, which tells the story of four women and the tragic events of Masada nearly two thousand years ago.  The stories of these women—Yael, Revka, Aziza, and Shirah—intersect and weave a powerful story of secrets, hope, truth, and love.   Our reader said The Dovekeepers was actually a re-read for her, but she was glad she had the chance to check out Hoffman’s novel again.  She found the story interesting and she thought the characters were fascinating, complex.  Overall, she liked the book and she recommends The Dovekeepers to any and all fans of Hoffman’s work.

Next, Nevermore checked out The Bookshop of Yesterdays, a new novel by Amy Meyerson.  Miranda Brooks spent much of her childhood reading through the books of her Uncle Billy’s store and solving scavenger hunts he created just for her.  But when Miranda turns twelve, her Uncle Billy and her mother have a sudden falling out and he disappears from Miranda’s life—until sixteen later when she receives news of his death and clues to one final scavenger hunt.  Our reader found she really enjoyed The Bookshop of Yesterdays.  Although the story was pretty predictable—“I kinda had things figured out early on,” she noted—she said it was a novel well worth reading.

Nevermore also looked at another book from the new fiction shelves:  The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester.  Estella Bissette is a young seamstress living in Paris during the early months of World War II; Fabienne Bissette is her granddaughter, a museum curator who is attending the annual Met gala, which is honoring her grandmother’s accomplishments in fashion.  Their stories, both in 1940 and 2015, soon begin to interweave as Fabienne uncovers secrets about her grandmother that she never knew.  Our reader said she enjoyed reading The Paris Seamstress.  Intricate and heartbreakingly poignant, Lester’s novel was an interesting mix of history, romance, and mystery that seemed to hit all the right notes.  She highly recommended it to her fellow Nevermore members, especially those who enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Next, Nevermore explored a particularly thrilling book titled The Spy and the Traitor:  The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre.  Oleg Gordievsky was the son of two KGB agents and spent time at the best Soviet institutions; he became one of the top intelligence agents in Russia and quickly became the best spy in London—and then he secretly started working for MI6 in 1973, quickly becoming one of Britain’s most important resources and a target for both the Soviet Union and the CIA.  Our reader said she “thoroughly enjoyed The Spy and the Traitor.”  Macintyre’s book read like an espionage thriller, alternating between nail-biting action and fascinating insight into the social and political atmosphere of Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.  “It was truly fantastic,” our reader finished.

Staying in the vein of espionage, Nevermore took a look at Kate Quinn’s novel, The Alice Network.  In the aftermath of World War II, Charlie St. Clair is an American college student on the verge of being cast out by her family—after all, being pregnant and unmarried is hardly proper.  Now, sent to Europe to take care of her “little problem,” Charlie finally has a chance to break free and, with the help of a former spy, find the cousin who disappeared from Nazi-occupied France.  Our reader said The Alice Network was “a good, intense story.”  Filled with a little espionage, some romance, and plenty of adventure, Quinn’s novel was an immediate hit for our reader and it was quickly passed along to another member.

Last, Nevermore shared The Great Mortality:  An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly.  In 1347, the Black Death began its journey across the Europe and Asia; five years later, nearly twenty-five million people were dead and many more were left reeling from the devastation of one disease.  Our reader picked out The Great Mortality on her Kindle on a whim and she was pleasantly surprised to find she enjoyed reading Kelly’s book.  She was fascinated by The Great Mortality, by how much detail and research Kelly put into his book to create such comprehensive and intriguing guide to one of the most gruesome times in history.  “It’s incredible what happened to [all of these people and countries],” she said.

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