About a Jewish man and his wife who emigrate to England from Berlin in the 30's, barely ahead of the Nazis. The sub-text story is about cultural contrasts, the immigrant experience, anti-semitism, and the devastating losses of European Jews whose families stayed behind. It is told in a charming style, not over-bearing, a little slow at times. Ultimately about redemption, love, and kindness. Narration was excellent.
The story is presented alternating between the present and in the past by Smithy Ide about his life growing up with a severely schizophrenic sister (although no diagnosis ever named) in East Providence, RI in the mid-1960's. Smithy has lived the unexamined life into his early 40's. A family tragedy propels him on an initially unplanned cross-country bike ride across the country in which he loses himself (his accumulated mental indifference and physical fat) and finds himself (gains insights into himself, his family and reaquires his boyhood fitness as a runner). I enjoyed the character although sometimes he seemed too innocent or obtuse to be believable. I also wondered if the writer has a basic resentment about mental health providers or if the understanding about schizophrenia has progressed so much since that time period -- since the people who allegedly provide treatment to the sister are largely incompetent and entirely self-preoccupied. The people and experiences Smithy encounters and the stories he tells are engaging. The narrator, who is also the writer, does a nice job. Enjoyed this book despite some frustrations when you want to say to the character: Oh come on! You can't be that naive!
Historic story well told about the woman who is manipulated into being queen for a few days. It definitely makes you care about a historic figure who is nowhere as well known as other women of the same period, including Queens Elizabeth and Mary (and Henry's multiple wives). Even knowing how it turns out, the story holds up to the end. Well narrated.
If you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you'll like this, although it is a bit more serious. About an elderly widower and his life, told in the present and through flashback, as a "raj orphan."
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