What Divides Us: The Kilteegan Bridge Story – Book 2 by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“May the roof above us never fall in and those beneath it never fall out.” 

Book Blurb:

Kilteegan Bridge, Ireland 1963.

What Divides Us by Jean GraingerOn the face of it, life is idyllic for Eli and Lena Kogan. Living in their beautiful house in the Irish countryside, their children are growing up happy and safe surrounded by a loving community. So when a letter arrives one day threatening to shatter their peaceful and prosperous world, Lena and Eli have no option but face the dark reality of their situation. How best to do that, is something that drives a wedge between them.
As a Jewish child, escaped from Germany in 1939, Eli is all for letting those dark days where they belong, for him, there’s no future in the past.
But for Lena, it’s different. She knows that the only way she can move her family forward in peace is to first go back, and there is only one man who knows the whole truth.
From rural Ireland to wartime France, What Divides us, tells a tale of loyalty and love, resentment and revenge, that has far reaching consequences for the Kogan family, the unravelling of which might just destroy their future.

My Review:

If Jean Grainger comes out with a new book, particularly in one of her series, you know I’ll be front and center. Book 2 of the Kilteegan Bridge Story digs deeper into the story of Eli and Lena Kogan. Now in 1963, some five years after The Trouble with Secrets introduced us to the unusual couple, they have Sarah and Pádraig in addition to Emmet—the baby that began the storyline.

The family is living in a beautiful home in a small community surrounded by family, support, and prosperity. When Lena receives a letter addressed specifically to her, it’s bad news. Eli, a Jewish child of Germany, wants nothing to do with the past, that ugly and tragic history. He and Lena have vastly different ideas on how to handle it but for her, there is only one way.

“…they ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds.”

A mother and a wife but she’s not entirely without resources and she begins a concerted effort to get to the bottom of it and assure that it will not impact neither her family nor the immediate family firmly entrenched within their boundaries.

It’s not just about the house or the land, however, it goes somewhat deeper and her first line of offense is to contact Malachy Berger, whose family originally held title. It was his loathsome father that separated her and Malachy years ago. His family and hers have a dark history, one they’ve not shared with anyone except Eli, stemming from the last great war.

“There are such things as kind untruths…”

What Divides Us by Jean GraingerIn the first book, I wasn’t sure about the character of Eli. He is closed mouth about his background but has otherwise proven to be a loving father and responsible member of the medical community. Lena has matured with three children but this time I had a bit of a problem with her very female severe overreaction to the situation, enumerating the issues and then repeating them several more times. It is a big problem, of course, with repercussions not just for her and Eli. She does, after all, have a valid point and with typical fighting Irish sensibilities tends to expand a conflict into a battle, one she’s prepared to fight.

The author crafts a well-plotted and fast-paced storyline that grips from the beginning. Lena doesn’t shy away from traveling to meet persons with info and dip into a dark background that stuns the soul as it reveals brutal and shocking truths.

I love it when Jean Grainger releases another in one of her series. I’ve read most of them and marveled at the way she can weave a historical chronicle into an Irish family drama that touches the heart and takes so many of us with some Irish ties home.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Recommended!

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction, Jewish Historical Fiction, Jewish Literature & Fiction
ISBN: ‎ 1914958993
ASIN: B09YMBVS5S
Print Length: 266 pages
Publication Date: September 29, 2022
Source: Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 

Jean Grainger - author
Jean Grainger – author

The Author: USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 200 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dogs, called Scrappy and Scoobi..

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

[truncated]

My current series, The Queenstown Series, centres on twelve year old Harp Devereaux and her mother Rose and the first book opens on the day Titanic sails from Queenstown, Co Cork on her last fateful journey. It is a bestselling series and people really seem to connect to the precocious Harp and her hard-working mother as they battle to survive in a society where conforming and playing by the rules was paramount. It is so far a three book series, The West’s Awake, and The Harp and the Rose being the next two books but I’m currently writing book four.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively listenable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

My Review:

Okay, don’t say it.

            This one is definitely not my usual genre. But there’s a reason for that.

I went hunting for audiobooks in which George Guidall narrates. He is one of my very favorite narrators and another reason I listen to so many Longmire audiobooks (written by Craig Johnson). This one caught my eye and oh my gosh! What an amazing journey!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerMiddle Eastern fiction woven beautifully with historical fantasy—so much to learn—so fascinating. A major atmospheric classic in fairy tale proportions. And the names, the language, the insight into Jewish culture, literature—all very smoothly rolled off Guidall’s tongue like a man reciting romantic poets, bathing the reader softly in the moment, caressing the ears.

This is a book to be read leisurely, digested, and enjoyed. The pace is languid through introduction of main characters and into backstories, explanations of the who and why. The backstories provide a greater understanding of present-day activities, the protagonist’s issues, proclivities, limitations, and each their separate and not necessarily complementary powers.

The author also examines the lengths at which each, both golem (Chava) and jinni (Ahmad) (supernatural beings) had to go to manifest normal human characteristics—the toll that extracted from each—and the extreme relief each must have felt when they were finally able to expose themselves to the other.

Take the time. It’s worth it. The characters, both main and support, are amazing. Easy to become invested, engaged. Arbeely, the Rabbi, Maryam Faddoul, empathetic. Michael Levy, poor guy—and Dr Saleh (Ice Cream Saleh), poor guy–sympathetic.

It’s an immersive fantasy brought to life with characters that create an enchanting tale of the ancient arts and magic.

The last 15-20% of the book brings the whole tale into one giant wizardy conclusion that has your head spinning with visions. All but one issue satisfying. BUT.

[Spoiler ahead]

I hate what happens to Michael and is the only reason I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as a 5+ star narrative. Surely there is an alternative! His only fault is his innocence. He loved the golem and I felt would have accepted her, knowing her powers, albeit some unfortunate. ARGH!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker[Note: You may be interested to know that the author has produced a sophomore release called The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni. Declared “well worth the wait,” it was released June 8, 2021 and was also narrated by George Guidall.]

Book Details:

Genre: Historic Middle Eastern Fiction, Jewish Literature, Jewish Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B00BU8DV2K
Listening Length: 19 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link(s): The Golem and the Jinni [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Helene Wecker - authorThe Author: Helene Wecker’s first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. A sequel, THE HIDDEN PALACE: A TALE OF THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in June 2021. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Joyland and Catamaran, as well as the fantasy anthology The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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