Archive for : April, 2014

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Alan Furst’s Midnight in Europe – A Review

Alan Furst is back with another signature spy novel, only this time Midnight in Europe is set in Paris of 1938. A war is brewing, and all across the word nations are preparing to do battle. The story takes place between Paris, New York, Warsaw, and Odessa all on the brink of World War II. It is a story of treason, espionage, and heroics as several nations battle the fight for democracy against the fascist German Nazi regime. Join the spies responsible for the breaking news coming into the United States, and read a tale of espionage as could only be told by Alan Furst. Midnight in Europe will keep readers from putting the book down, as Furst describes the events that started the Second World War through the eyes of spies.

Cristian Ferrar leads a group of unlikely heroes who are set to take the world by storm. He and his make shift crew are tasked with uncovering intelligence to help the world fight back the terror that has been cause by Adolf Hitler, and his army of Nazi extremists. Midnight in Europe perfectly depicts the terror and anxiety felt by an entire continent on the brink of a devastating war. Alan Furst brings forward a new prospective to the story of a war that has been told thousands of times, and that is no easy task.

Readers of all ages can enjoy some of the historic references as told by Alan Furst. Of course it is a book that is marketed toward the suspense readers, but history buffs will also find a lot to take from Midnight in Europe. Midnight in Europe is part of a set of stories that have become known as The Night Soldiers. Alan Furst describes in stark detail the events that lead up to the invasion of France in 1940. Some readers explain that they did not fully understand the events of the Spanish Civil War, and what they had to do with World War II. The connection is made clear by Midnight in Europe, as the story is told through the eyes of a Spanish spy.

Alan Furst has a way of teaching history through fiction that not many authors are capable of. Some historic fiction authors tend to lose the importance of keeping real life events accurate in their fictitious portrayal of the events. Alan Furst delivers accurate information, and teaches his readers about the historic events that he passionately portrays in his writings. Midnight in Europe only adds to the claims that Alan Furst is the among the best historic fiction and war writers of modern times.


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The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy: A Review

Canadian writers have a way of their own to reach to someone’s heart – and even more so female Canadian writers. Somehow in the same group of writers as Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy always makes sure that you will be left hanging and wanting for more of her writing and The Romantic, her sixth novel, makes absolutely no exception to the rule.

The Romantic is a genuinely romantic story, but not the kind of romantic story that makes you feel very optimistic about life and about finding Prince Charming at the supermarket. This is a sad novel that will overwhelm you and that will catch you from the first line to the last one – and beyond that because if this will be your first Gowdy, you will probably want more and more of her unique and beautiful style.

The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy


This novel portrays the life of Louise Kirk, a girl whose former beauty queen mother leaves her and her father at a very young age. The only note she leaves says that she is never coming back and that Louise knows how to use the washing machine – and for a very long time, this is the only thing Louise will know of her mother until they receive note of her death.

Soon after her mother’s death, the Richters move right across the street and Louise will find in Mrs. Richter a mother like she never had. Even more than that, she will find a friend and, later on, a lover in Abel, the adopted son of the Richters. Although the two of them will be split apart, they will also be brought together – not for long though.

Even when fulfilled, their love is not what it should have been. Louise is a normal, likeable girl who switches between various jobs as a secretary. Abel is a musical and poetic genius who eventually ends up drowning himself in alcohol, drugs and sex and who will leave Louise and the world much too soon. Faced with yet another loss, Louise will have to find happiness into the arms of another man – finally giving up her ideal of her and Abel being together.

Barbara Gowdy writes in a witty way that wins her readers and makes them loyal to her novels. The Romantic may have been a total failure – after all, there are many other love stories of disillusion, loss and clinging to a love that will just never happen (or at least not completely). And yet, Gowdy manages to make the most out of her plot by sprinkling everything with a painful realism of how things are in real life without making her book be nothing more than an account of facts. Do keep in mind that although the book focuses on romance, it is not necessarily a romance book as such. More likely you will consider it a book about romance and about how it is seen through Louise’s eyes – which is precisely why this is nothing like any other books of this genre out there.

You will most likely drop a tear or two when reading The Romantic, so if you are searching for an actual uplifting novel, you may want to pick up another title. However, if you are in for a book that will haunt you for a long time from now on, then The Romantic will definitely be more than satisfying.