First line: Anna Cser lay on the floor of her living room.
Summary: In the 1920s a shocking story of a murder ring surrounding a Hungarian midwife drew the eyes of the world. A small village had been experiencing a number of unexplained deaths of the local men. As more and more people died the authorities centered in on Auntie Suzy who was dispensing arsenic to patients. With the question of “Why are you bothering with him?” she convinced the women of the village to do away with their troublesome husbands, sons and fathers.
My Thoughts: Before having this book cross my desk I had never heard anything about these events. It was completely shocking as I read the synopsis and I knew I had to read this story. I was instantly hooked by the events that took place in the small Hungarian village. These women dispensed their own justice. And for years without being discovered!
Even though I found the story and history fascinating, I struggled with the format. It was written as if it was a fiction novel. The main characters were portrayed with their emotions and thoughts rather than just facts. It seemed rather odd and I kept having to remember that this was a true story based on facts.
However, the author does a wonderful job describing life in the years following the First World War in a rural village. They dealt with loss of men to the war, deprivations and occupation by victorious soldiers. The town was filled with poor farmers who stilled believed in the old folktales. It made for the perfect setting for such sinister events.
This book actually gets 4.5 stars from me. Click on the title above the cover to get to the book in our catalog.
First Lines: Wherever I turned my head, I thought I saw her: a woman people described as striking, beautiful even. That would never have been my choice of words.
Summary: One of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries has never been solved: her mysterious disappearance for 11 days in December 1926. She left her home on a Friday evening and one of the largest missing person hunts in history was launched. This novel imagines what might have happened during those days. It begins as she leaves her literary agent and is preparing to board a train in London. She feels a hand at her back that pushes her as an oncoming train is arriving, and pulls her back just before she falls in front of the train. Her rescuer, however, is no hero. Rather, he insists that she is going to commit a murder.
Highlights: I have loved Agatha Christie’s books since I first read What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw when I was in seventh grade. This book is gutsy in taking on telling a story of what may have happened to Dame Agatha during those days she was missing. The story is cleanly told, from varying points of view. Don’t gloss over the “Editor’s Note” before the first chapter, and then go back and read it again after you’ve finished the book. It will be that much more enlightening. This book has a truly vile villain, other interesting characters, and a plot line that completely works for me.
Lowlights: I had just a little difficulty getting into the first dozen pages or so. Honestly, that could have been me rather than the writing. I fully expected a Chrsitie-esque unraveling at the end of the book of how the whole story went down, but that doesn’t happen. However, that didn’t hurt the story at all for me. And there’s a little information that isn’t completely cleared up at the end, so if you like every little thing all tied up in a neat little bow, you won’t get that here.
Just a little more: This is a great imagining of what could have happened during Agatha Christie’s disappearance. I recommend it for anyone who loves a good mystery, and especially for fans of Dame Agatha. I received an advance e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Summary: Madeleine is a married woman who is bored and unhappy with her life. Her husband is controls everything from the money to what she
is allowed to do with her day. She loves to paint but he has made it clear that he does not think that this is something she should be spending her time doing. When she goes home to visit her mother she finds her grandmother’s journals in a trunk in the attic. Through the writings of a woman she barely knew she finds out more about herself and what she wants from life.
Margie is a young woman in 1924. She was a debutante but remains unmarried making her practically an old maid. When the chance to chaperone her younger cousin around Europe is presented she jumps at the chance to see the world before she settles into marriage with one of her father’s business partners. But the trip doesn’t turn out as planned. Her cousin ditches her in Paris leaving Margie with the question of what to do alone in Europe. Rather than take her parents advice and return home she decides that Paris has more to offer her, even if it’s only for a little while.
Highlights: Paris! It has been 11 years since I visited the City of Lights but I want to go again. This book took me back to the 4 days I got to spend there in college. The monuments, cathedrals and the food were magical! I envy Margie the chance to live in this beautiful city. I liked the flashbacks. It made the story richer as you found out more about each woman. I was able to connect with them and became invested in each of their lives.
Lowlights: Most of the story was very predictable. I knew what was going to happen in most of the book but that is not always a bad thing. It felt like a safe and comfortable read.
FYI: You will want to visit (or live) in Paris after this!