4 Other Books I Read in June 2021

My blog post last Monday was about three historical novels I read in June, so today’s post is about the other four novels I read last month. I was amazed at how many good books I got to read or listen to.

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

As an aspiring novelist, I really enjoyed this book. The premise of The Plot is that a wannabe writer teaches writing one summer at a failing college in Vermont. One of his students is a real pain in the neck but a good writer.

The student shared with the instructor his idea for a novel. The instructor thought it was a brilliant idea. When the instructor found out the student had died and supposedly left no living relatives, the instructor writes a novel based on the student’s plot. He becomes famous and is much sought after. Just as his second novel is to be released, though, he receives a scary message: “You’re a thief.”

I think I’ll stop there and let you read the book to find out what happens. Is the writing instructor really a thief? And are the messages coming from his student’s long-lost niece or someone else? The ending surprised me.

The Warsaw Orphan, by Kelly Rimmer

The Warsaw Orphan, by Kelly Rimmer

After liking Kelly Rimmer’s earlier historical novels, The Things We Cannot Say (See my September 9, 2019 blog post: #BringBackOurGirls) and Before I Let Her Go (See my October 7, 2019 blog post: Thrillers and a Dark Novel I Read Last Month) I got on the waitlist at the public library for her new novel, The Warsaw Orphan, as soon as it showed up on the library’s catalog as having been order. I was able to check out the book on CD a couple of weeks ago, and it did not disappoint.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading novels set in World War II Europe. This story grabbed my attention immediately and never lagged. Sometimes plots lag in the middle of a book, but not this one.

As you might surmise from the title, this novel is set in Warsaw, Poland beginning in the spring of 1942. Elzbieta Rabinek is a teen girl who grows more and more afraid of the German police patrolling the city streets and ever more aware of and concerned for the Jews who were confined in the ghetto behind the city wall.

You’ll find that Elzbieta is not necessarily who she passes as, and this is the case for more than one major character in the book. She befriends a young man who lives in the ghetto while she volunteers with a nurse who is secretly smuggling children out of the ghetto. There is danger, terror, and courage at every turn. This book will keep you turning the pages or wanting to listen to “just one more CD” before you turn the light off at night.

The Woman with the Blue Star, by Pam Jenoff

The Woman with the Blue Star, by Pam Jenoff

I’ll start by saying this novel is not a pleasant read, but it’s an important historical novel. It opened my eyes to the horrors of the Jews who escaped capture by the Nazis by hiding in the sewers. This is unimaginable to me, but it is true.

The book brings out the stench and filth in which these people lived for more than a year. In that respect, the sewer itself becomes a character in the book. The protagonist, Sadie, is a teen girl who looks up through a sewer grate one day and sees a girl, Ella, about her age. Sadie and Ella make eye contact and Ella returns to the grate to look down into the sewer to talk to Sadie. Ella’s family is not Jewish and they enjoy a comfortable life. Both girls must keep their friendship secret.

The Jews hiding in the sewer are at the mercy of a young man who brings them scraps of food. It is barely enough to keep them alive. To compound the situation, Sadie’s mother is pregnant.

This story is filled with suspense. The ending was bittersweet, but I loved the epilogue.

I’ve read and enjoyed two of Pam Jenoff’s other novels, The Orphan’s Tale (See my August 7, 2017 blog post, Late July Reading) and The Lost Girls of Paris (See my May 3, 2021 blog post, 5 Historical Novels I Read in April 2021.)

Local Woman Missing, by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing, by Mary Kubica

I’d heard and read good things about this novel and looked forward to listening to it. I had trouble keeping up with whose point-of-view I was hearing, though, so I returned the book on CD to the public library.

Reading the printed book might be easier, when I get a chance to do that. I think the problem was mine and not the writer’s. With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I sometimes have concentration difficulties.

One thing in the book made me laugh out loud. You may recall that on March 29, 2021, my blog post title was #Idiom: As All Get Out. Several of you responded to let me know you’d never heard that expression before, while others said that you had but not in a long time. I was absolutely delighted that one of the characters in Local Woman Missing used “as all get out” several times.

I’ll probably give this book another chance when I can read it on my Kindle and adjust the font size.

Since my last blog post

I’ve worked on my historical novel manuscript. It feels great to be back on it! I’ve arranged for a professional editor to evaluate the first 50 pages of my 303-page manuscript. I’ll let you know what she has to say about it in a future blog post.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have at least one good book to read. I’m reading several.

I hope you’ve been able to get your Covid-19 vaccination, if you’re health allows you to take it. Variants of the virus will continue to develop until a greater percentage of us receive the vaccine. How fortunate we are to live in the 21st century when such vaccines are possible!

Enjoy your week, whatever you’re doing.


14 thoughts on “4 Other Books I Read in June 2021

  1. Sorry but… the premise of Jenoff’s book is incorrect. I know this because I happen to have known a man who was, as a young boy, in the Krakow sewers. From the stories he told me, I can assure you that the idea of anyone befriending someone whose face appeared behind the grates is absurd, and well… just wrong. I’m afraid I won’t be reading this novel. I’m glad you liked it, but for me – as a Jew who has/had close ties to many Holocaust survivors (family and friends) – the idea of this book simply offends me. (And frankly, I was underwhelmed by her Lost Girls of Paris, so…)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for bringing the facts to my attention. I read it for what it was — a work of fiction. At the same time, though, it did make me aware that some of the Jews actually hid in the sewers. That was news to me, so I was glad to learn that from this piece of historical fiction. I’m sorry the book offended you. Knowing the facts via your acquaintance with a man who actually had to survive in the Krakow sewers, I see how the premise of this novel would be offensive. Thank you for taking the time to bring your friend’s experience to my attention. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts and experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re welcome. He was an amazing man – a true inspiration. He actually almost died three times during the Holocaust, and his survival was nothing short of truly heroic. I admired him so much that I just got angry about the premise of this book. But good you learned something new about WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your follow-up comment. I can’t say that I blame you for being upset over the premise of the book. It struck too close to home for you. If I were in your shoes, I might have had the same reaction. I’m so glad you had the privilege of knowing that man who survived the Holocaust. If you are ever so inclined, perhaps you could write an essay or even a book about his life. I’d certainly buy it! His story needs to be written and preserved. I’m glad you responded to my blog post so we could have this conversation. It is by sharing our opinions, ideas, and reactions to things that we all (hopefully) learn to be better, more-rounded individuals.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much, Pat! I appreciate your finding and reading my blog. I hope you’ll enjoy The Warsaw Orphan as much as I did. Glad to know that, like me, you enjoy historical fiction. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. All the best, Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad to know that about you, Pat. A man who used to work at the veterinarian’s office we take our dog to was from Romania. He was so nice, but he moved to Tennessee. Anyway… you’ll be able to picture the setting of Poland better than I could, since you’re from that area of Europe. Have a nice weekend. Janet

    Liked by 1 person

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