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"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting"
-Mary Wortley Montagu
-Mary Wortley Montagu
Overflowing with Character Depth and History
Do not expect a fast paced, action packed book, nevertheless you want to know how it ends.
The author places the reader before, during and after the time of World War II, in Russia through Europe and in Boston. It is a complex timeline with a combination of characters that the author introduces fairly quick, continuing to reveal their personalities, what makes them tick and why throughout the rest of the book. This is the first story that I have experienced which has taken multiple character's lives and been able to bring them together seamlessly and plausibly.
The author wants you to dig deep into these characters and provides plenty of pages to do just that with each character being truly unique. There is no skimping or rushed aspect to this story or the characters, allowing the story to be divulged in due time to a satisfying conclusion.
Quite a few parts of the story for me were predictable, such as:
-The introduction of a character into the life of another's, I knew who it was going to be.
-I knew what something was going to be named later in the story
-I knew certain details at a pivotal point of the story before it was revealed.
These predictable moments didn't stop me from wanting to know how it would be concluded though. To be fair to the author, the basis of the story is practically laid out from the beginning in the description of the book, so it's not really hard to figure it all out as it unfolds. Now, as I say those things there were certain parts of the story that would shock me or infuriate me and I couldn't wait to see if there would be retribution for the atrocities presented in the story. You glare at the character while reading about their heinousness, just hoping for their comeuppance, hence the sticking around until the end.
There was one character unfortunately that threw the story out of balance for me though. With the way the character behaved, spoke and their life in general, it was almost as if the author had a harder time trying to portray this character and how they may be in real life based on their back story. It's possible that this character's broken way of speaking would also be how they thought, which would make some sense, if that is in fact what the author was trying to portray, but I can't know that for sure. Even if that was the author's intent it still doesn't help bring the character into balance with the way the rest of the characters were written when the character's reasoning for doing things doesn't quite line up with previous behavior:
-Like how this character decided who to have relations with, even though in the beginning of the book this character was determined not to become like their siblings.
Or the story around this character didn't line up fully:
-The way this individual's father behaved towards his offspring and specifically their mother, but somehow ended up with an entire brood to take care of.
-This character would randomly swear, absolutely no reason for it in the dialogue or text, just did it.
-The initial reason provided for why this particular character didn't like a quarter moon. The initial impression given was one thing but ended up being something else entirely. It didn't seem as valid as my initial impression, which is one of the things that did shock me, but the reason did get explained better later on in the story.
There are few times where it got a bit repetitive as well:
-This character would always compare people's eyes to a lake they grew up on, every person who had eyes the color of that lake. So after a point it got redundant and irritating because this character has seen other stuff, so why is it constantly being compared to this particular thing?
-One character's thoughts about this particular character was always along the same line as they started working together and how this character's behavior was so difficult, so that got a bit redundant as well.
There are other examples that just didn't work as well with this character but I shall talk about a character that I enjoyed instead. This particular character wasn't even mentioned in the book's description, but I appreciated this character and had a pleasant time reading about this person and the way they were able to talk to other people, especially when they started interacting with one of the other characters later on in the book.
I know that some of what the author presented did occur in our history but you could also tell the author used creative license to modernize particular things in the book, especially once you read the author's notes. Speaking of, the author's notes were my absolute favorite part of this book, because it brought what she created to life through the real people that the author had based her characters on. It was fascinating to read and you could tell that she had made sure to do her research and keep this historical fiction as real as possible.
Even though I gave this book a well-deserved 4 stars because there was a lot about this book that I enjoyed, there were other parts that missed the mark and put me on the fence whether I would add this book to my personal collection to read again. HOWEVER, it is worth reading at least once!
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