Monday, June 23, 2014

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva (2012)

I have only read one other Daniel Silva book, but I really like the Gabriel Allon character, and I should try reading about him in the right order. At this point I am going backwards. I really like the combination of art restorer and high level spy from Israel. This story starts out at the Vatican,as he is restoring a Caravaggio, and of course there is a murder. Then it evolves into a major international crisis taking us to Israel, France, Switzerland, U.S., Germany, Denmark, Austria and back to Israel, mostly Jerusalem.

The plot is a complex one involving illegal antiquities, money movers, spies, terrorists, old affairs, the pope and his entourage,  and Gabriel, who just wants to restore art and live peacefully with his wife, but he keeps getting pulled into these major international affairs that he seems to be the best person to solve.

Silva explains in a note after the novel what is based on truth and where he stretches it. I got a sense of the conflicts between the three main religions in Jerusalem and feel I need to read up more on this historical city. It mus be a treasure trove for archeologists and I really don't know what has and has not been found. I feel like I am filling in little pieces of my understanding of the Middle East conflicts. I am just finishing another book about the Holocaust, reminding me why Israel was created. Plus the confusing and terrifying events occurring in Iraq right now make me want to understand this area better.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts (2012)

The second in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy was somehow one of the slowest moving Roberts' books. No surprise that Avery, one of the three women friends, who runs the Pizza joint across from the old inn that is being restored gets together with Owen, who is restoring the inn with his brothers. Maybe one needs a nice calm story every once in a while. The ghost in the inn pushes these two old friends together, and makes them realize they have been best friends forever and could take their relationship to a romantic level. There had to be some incident, some tragedy, some secret that would solidify the relationship or help them get over the last hurdle when they realize they really belong together. So Avery's mother, who had deserted her when she was little, comes back into the picture to fill this role.

I continued to enjoy the restoration process, but it sounded like a lot of money sunk into something that was going to take a lot of time to return the investment and pay a decent salary to Hope, the manager of the inn and the next one to fall in love with the third brother in this trilogy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus (2010)

Subtitle: The Journals of May Dodd.

Fantastic book. I did not realize that this was going to be about exactly about the area I was going to visit.If I understood the premise correctly, this book was based on a small historical fact. I believe that the Cheyenne Chief might have really come to the US President with the proposal to send a thousand white women to get married to the Cheyenne and then the children would be US citizens and would help integrate the cultures. The author went on to imagine what it would have been like, if this really happened - at least with a few women.

May Dodd is the main character, who has been put in an insane asylum for being promiscuous, because she chose a man that was not in the same class as her family, though she had two kids with him and was monogamous. When the government offers her a way out by going out west to marry a savage and bring the white culture to the heathens, she takes it. There is a trainload of women, who are escaping something to take on this adventure - two Irish twin sisters who get an out of jail free card, an English bird watcher who has run out of money, a former slave, a southern belle who has been jilted by her fiance when her father loses everything after the Civil War. They volunteer to be wives to the Indians and to bear a child with them.

I wish I had more time to do this book justice. In a sense it was one of those white person gets raised by the Indians story and takes on their wisdom, but this was a whole group of women, who became part of the Cheyenne tribe and most integrated quite well. Though they were supposed to "civilize" the Indians, they learn that the Indian way of life makes a lot of sense. Of course this story doesn't end well, as the US government renigs on the promises it has made the Indians, and they are all forced to live on reservations. I saw the current reservation outlines in the map of Montana, when I visited last week, and some of the Crow and Cheyenne history at a museum in Billings, MT.

Very touching, a good sense of Indian daily life, the historical time period and the injustices of the white US government. It included the role religious teachers played and the difficulty of women to adjust to the wild west. Custer was the only historical figure who's name I recognized, though I later found out May's husband - Chief Little Wolf was also a historical figure.

Definitely a candidate for gifting to others.