Lady of the War

England. World War I. High society. This is the setting for Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle written by The Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Fiona Carnarvon. Lords and Ladies. Dukes and Duchesses. This is the language of every little girls fairy tales, except this is also real life. Lady Fiona Carnarvon weaves the story of the Carnarvon family during the years that Almina Wombwell, illegitimate daughter of Alfred Rothschild and Marie Wombwell (who was married to Fred Wombwell), was Lady Carnarvon married to the 5th Lord Carnarvon. The Lord marries Almina in order to use her money to erase his sizeable debts, but Almina becomes the beauty and driving force behind Highclere Castle. She turns the Castle into a comfortable and soothing hospital for the injured from the frontline of WWI.

Downton Abbey is not the story of the Carnarvons but the Castle is the setting for the series and the story of high society is similar. However, it is not the story of Lady Almina. Having never seen the series, this book peaked my interest in the series and I had to do some research online as well as interviewing my mother to learn about the series. The series sounds intriguing but the book is a sure winner in my library. It is historical and well written about life in England during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It features a great storyline about Lady Almina and her hospital as well as Lord Carnarvon and his discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. This book is well worth reading!

I received this book free for review from Read It Forward.

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The Glory of Motherhood

Some words send fingers of chill, fear, and dread up the spine. One such word is barren. Women in the Old Testament were thought to be cursed and filled with if they were unable to bear children. However, that is not the case. There are many “medical” reasons for the inability to either become pregnant or carry the child to term. Thankfully there are also many choices that a couple may choose in the face of this diagnosis. Alex and Adrienne Arieff was one of those couples facing the devastation of the death of their pre-term baby and then subsequent miscarriages.

In The Sacred Thread A True Story of Becoming a Mother and Finding a Family – Half a World Away, Adrienne tells of their journey from their courtship and marriage through the birth of their twins bore by an Indian surrogate. She speaks candidly about the pain of the death of their daughter, Colette, at twenty weeks. The choice to then use a surrogate to realize their dream to become parents was met with both celebration and accusations of exploitation from their friends and family. However, the Arieff’s were able to realize that dream with the help of a clinic in Anand, India. Today the Arieff family includes twin daughters.

Arieff’s book is filled with both raw emotion about the journey and information concerning in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. She does not paint the picture as all roses and song. She is truthful concerning the pros and cons of utilizing a surrogate. I found her book to be an excellent resource for those who are facing the same decisions and/or responses from friends and family. She includes a list of resources at the end of her book which could help other couples. I also found myself captivated by her story and the way she captured every nuance of the journey.

I received this book free for review from Read it Forward.

Houses Built Upon the Sand

Abigail Sinclair and her family have temporarily moved from Edenton, South Carolina to the Outer Banks for the summer. Gone was the ordered life that Abigail was familiar with. Instead she found herself in an environment that was very different in part due to the fact that her father had contracted to have the house built relatively close to the ocean. Most of the other people that she knew did not have their houses built like a shanty teetering on the brink of destruction at the whim of the ocean. In addition, Abigail’s father offers to have her teach a local “banker” how to read. Benjamin Whimble opens her eyes and mind to new sights and sounds. He also opens her heart to the possibility of a life so different from her “normal.”

Encapsulated within this story, The Outer Banks House A Novel, is also the story of the scales removed from Abigail’s eyes about her mother’s fraility and mental breakdown as well as the prejudice and hatred that her father believes. Abigail witnesses the horrendous murder of a black man at the hands of her father and his friends in this post-Civil War story of innocence that is destroyed just like a house that is built upon the sand. Abigail begins to question all she knows and believed in. This powerful story gives the readers a glimpse into the mind of Southerners following the Civil War and also into the mind of innocence.

I received this book for free to review from Read It Forward.

Compassion Internationally

In America, we tend to advise to girls to wait before getting married. It is less common to hear of a girl younger than fifteen getting married under any circumstances. However that is not the case in many Middle Eastern countries. Many times a family will arrange a marriage of a daughter much younger than fifteen to avoid the girl being kidnapped and being sold into the hands of human traffickers. Other times a girl’s marriage is arranged to avoid having to feed her. I had heard of marriages of girls twelve and thirteen years old becoming married, but I never heard of a ten year old girl, until I read I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui.

I Am Nujood is a book written to both illuminated the culture of Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries and to highlight the strength of little girl who had to face that culture that says woman are not equal. Nujood was given in marriage by her father and the men of her family to a man of thirty years. He promised to not touch her until one year after her puberty. However, he attacked her almost immediately and violated her nightly while beating her. He attempted to break her but Nujood managed to escape and faced the daunting task of asking for a divorce in a country that did not value woman.

If you are a mother, a daughter, a sister, a Christian – I encourage to read this book and cry out for all women and girls around the world. God created us, male and female, in His image and rather than turn your eyes and mind from the violence against women and girls because it is not in our own home, we must educate ourselves and stand united to protect His children – male and female.

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program for 2012. The book is published by Read It Forward and is available on Amazon.com.

Baking Up Friendships

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy is set in both World War II Germany and present day California. The story surrounds the budding friendship that erupts from a journalist’s assignment. The journalist, Reba Adams, is assigned a story to interview Elsie Schmidt Meriwether a baker originally from Garmisch, Germany. Reba is also engaged to Riki Chavez, an Border Patrol Agent. Ricki’s parents were originally from Mexico which eventually causes him to reevaluate his allegience to his job. Encompassed in this story is the story of Elsie and her family during the campaign of Adolf Hitler, the romantic relationship between Elsie’s daughter, Jane, and a Mexican illegal, the relationship between Reba and Riki, and the friendship between Reba, Elsie, and Jane.

Elsie was 15 years old during World War II and was from a family of bakers. The chapters in Germany are written in first-person from Elsie and discuss her life including how her mind changed about Jews and the Nazis after hiding a seven-year-old Jewish boy in her wall when he saved her from impending rape from a Nazi officer. The chapters in California feature the stories of each of the other characters as well as the budding friendship between all of the characters.

The book also features a short cookbook at the end of the book with tempting bakery recipes. The stories are riveting and engaging. The author has done a remarkable job presenting so many stories within the one novel. This is a great book!

I received this book for free for review from Read It Forward. The book can be purchased at Amazon.