Top 5 Wednesday #2 • Backlist Book

Thème : Backlist Book

Le premier thème du mois de juin concerne les livres qui ont été publiés il y a un ou plus, mais qui n’ont pas encore été lu et/ou achetés. Voici mes cinq livres prioritaires en ce moment.

Les thèmes du mois peuvent être trouvés ici.


1. The Poppy & the Rose – Ashlee Cowles

1912: Ava Knight, a teen heiress, boards the Titanic to escape the shadow of her unstable mother and to fulfill her dream of becoming a photographer in New York. During the journey she meets three people who will change her life: a handsome sailor, a soldier in the secret Black Hand society that will trigger World War I, and a woman with clairvoyant abilities. When disaster strikes the ship, family betrayals come to light.

2010: When Taylor Romano arrives in Oxford for a summer journalism program, something feels off. Not only is she greeted by a young, Rolls Royce-driving chauffeur, but he invites her to tea with Lady Mae Knight of Meadowbrook Manor, an old house with a cursed history going back to the days of Henry VIII. Lady Knight seems to know a strange amount about Taylor and her family problems, but before Taylor can learn more, the elderly woman dies, leaving as the only clue an old diary. With the help of the diary, a brooding chauffeur, and some historical sleuthing, Taylor must uncover the link between Ava’s past and her own….

Je suis une grande lectrice de romans historiques. Celui-ci me tente énormément, car il est plutôt rare que je lise autour du Titanic, pourtant un événement qui m’intéresse.

2. Mercy House – Alena Dillon

In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn stands a century-old row house presided over by renegade, silver-haired Sister Evelyn. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, Evelyn and her fellow sisters makes Mercy House a safe haven for the abused and abandoned.

Women like Lucia, who arrives in the dead of night; Mei-Li, the Chinese and Russian house veteran; Desiree, a loud and proud prostitute; Esther, a Haitian immigrant and aspiring collegiate; and Katrina, knitter of lumpy scarves… all of them know what it’s like to be broken by men.

Little daunts Evelyn, until she receives word that Bishop Robert Hawkins is coming to investigate Mercy House and the nuns, whose secret efforts to help the women in ways forbidden by the Church may be uncovered. But Evelyn has secrets too, dark enough to threaten everything she has built.

Evelyn will do anything to protect Mercy House and the vibrant, diverse women it serves—confront gang members, challenge her beliefs, even face her past. As she fights to defend all that she loves, she discovers the extraordinary power of mercy and the grace it grants, not just to those who receive it, but to those strong enough to bestow it.

J’aime les histoires où la maison, demeure… prend une place importante. À cela s’ajoute le destin de femmes hors du commun et que tout semble opposé pour sauver leur refuge. Je suis impatiente de pouvoir le découvrir.

3. Daughter of the Reich – Louise Fein

As the dutiful daughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, Hetty Heinrich is keen to play her part in the glorious new Thousand Year Reich. But she never imagines that all she believes and knows about her world will come into stark conflict when she encounters Walter, a Jewish friend from the past, who stirs dangerous feelings in her. Confused and conflicted, Hetty doesn’t know whom she can trust and where she can turn to, especially when she discovers that someone has been watching her.

Realizing she is taking a huge risk—but unable to resist the intense attraction she has for Walter—she embarks on a secret love affair with him. Together, they dream about when the war will be over and plan for their future. But as the rising tide of anti-Semitism threatens to engulf them, Hetty and Walter will be forced to take extreme measures.

Il doit sortir prochainement en français. Le résumé m’a tout de suite plu, car il me rappelle les Mandy Robotham que j’aime beaucoup. Je l’avais déjà mis en avant dans un article sur les sorties en anglais qui me tentent énormément, il y a un an. Depuis, il traîne dans ma wish-list et il n’a toujours pas été acheté et lu. Sûrement un de mes prochains achats avec le prochain.

4. The Ratline – Philippe Sands

As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author’s grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an ‘old comrade’.

In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter’s youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man – what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?

J’ai beaucoup aimé son premier essai, East West Street, sur le dévéloppement des notions de génocide, crimes contre l’humanité. Il retourne sur ce terrain fertile de la Seconde Guerre mondiale en parlant du réseau de fuite nazi. Je connais cet aspect du conflit, mais sans être réellement rentrée dans les détails. Cela fait un an qu’il est sorti et je ne l’ai toujours pas acheté, mais prochainement.

5. Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Ce livre a beaucoup fait parler de lui et il m’intéresse énormément, car il parle de Shakespeare. Ce dernier a toujours été un de mes auteurs préférés. Il est sorti l’année dernière et il a été traduit récemment en français, aux éditions Belfond.

Sorties VO • Mai 2021

The Radio Operator • Ulla Lenze • Harper Via • 4 mai • 304 pages

At the end of the 1930s, Europe is engulfed in war. Though America is far from the fighting, the streets of New York have become a battlefield. Anti-Semitic and racist groups spread hate, while German nationalists celebrate Hitler’s strength and power. Josef Klein, a German immigrant, remains immune to the troubles roiling his adopted city. The multicultural neighborhood of Harlem is his world, a lively place full of sidewalk tables where families enjoy their dinner and friends indulge in games of chess. 

Josef’s great passion is the radio. His skill and technical abilities attract the attention of influential men who offer him a job as a shortwave operator. But when Josef begins to understand what they’re doing, it’s too late; he’s already a little cog in the big wheel—part of a Nazi espionage network working in Manhattan. Discovered by American authorities, Josef is detained at Ellis Island, and eventually deported to Germany.

Back in his homeland, fate leads him to his brother Carl’s family, soap merchants in Neuss—where he witnesses the seductive power of the Nazis and the war’s terrible consequences—and finally to South America, where Josef hopes to start over again as José. Eventually, Josef realizes that no matter how far he runs or how hard he tries, there is one indelible truth he cannot escape: How long can you hide from your own past, before it catches up with you?

The woman with the blue star • Pam Jenoff • Park Row • 4 mai • 336 pages

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. 

Luck of the Titanic • Stacey Lee • G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers • 4 mai • 304 pages

Southampton, 1912: Seventeen-year-old British-Chinese Valora Luck has quit her job and smuggled herself aboard the Titanic with two goals in mind: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie–her only family now that both their parents are dead–and to convince a part-owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus to take the twins on as acrobats. Quick-thinking Val talks her way into opulent firstclass accommodations and finds Jamie with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. But in the rigidly stratified world of the luxury liner, Val’s ruse can only last so long, and after two long years apart, it’s unclear if Jamie even wants the life Val proposes. Then, one moonless night in the North Atlantic, the unthinkable happens–the supposedly unsinkable ship is dealt a fatal blow–and Val and her companions suddenly find themselves in a race to survive.

The shadow in the glass • J.J.A. Harwood • Harper Voyager • 4 mai • 416 pages

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. 

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. 

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. 

Madam • Phoebe Wynn • St Martin’s Press • 18 mai • 352 pages

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs—not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor—a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere—than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.

The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany • Gwen Strauss • St Martin’s Press • 4 mai • 336 pages

The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris.

The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.

The Cave Dwellers • Christina McDowell • Gallery Scout Press • 25 mai • 352 pages

They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.

But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question.

They’re called The Cave Dwellers.

The lights of Prague • Nicole Jarvis • Titan Books • 18 mai • 416 pages

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – a secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová– a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady – a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp, a mischievous spirit known to lead lost travellers to their death, but who, once captured, are bound to serve the desires of their owners.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.

The whispering dead • Darcy Coates • Poisoned Pen Press • 4 mai • 256 pages

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time… and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit’s past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira’s time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit… even if it means offering her own life in return.

Patricia Falvey • The Girls of Ennismore (2017)

The Girls of Ennismore • Patricia Falvey • 2017 • Editions Corvus • 480 pages

It’s the early years of the twentieth century, and Victoria Bell and Rosie Killeen are best friends. Growing up in rural Ireland’s County Mayo, their friendship is forged against the glorious backdrop of Ennismore House. However, Victoria, born of the aristocracy, and Rosie, daughter of a local farmer, both find that the disparity of their class and the simmering social tension in Ireland will push their friendship to the brink… 

J’ai découvert ce roman grâce à Céline, du blog Le monde de Sapotille. Nous l’avons lu ensemble dans le cadre de son challenge littéraire autour de l’Irlande. Roman historique se déroulant en Irlande, je suis déçue par cet ouvrage qui ne m’a pas du tout transporté.

J’ai eu beaucoup de mal à m’attacher aux deux personnages principaux, Victoria et Rosie. Dès les premières pages, alors qu’elles sont encore en enfance, je n’ai réussi à créer aucun lien avec elles. Même quand elles grandissent, je ne me suis pas investie dans leurs nouvelles vies et ambitions. Rosie est peut-être celle que j’ai le plus apprécié (tout en nuançant mon propos). Son destin est un peu plus intéressant, mais son orgueil m’a parfois découragé. Victoria, la jeune aristocrate, n’est pas un personnage qui m’a convaincu. Sa rébellion sonnait faux à mes yeux. Je ne sais pas si elle faisait pour dire de faire, d’ennuyer sa mère en étant en conflit constant avec elle ou parce qu’elle s’intéressait vraiment à l’indépendance irlandaise. Je pense que cela est notamment dû au manque de profondeur des personnages. En tant que lectrice, j’ai trouvé que l’accès à leurs pensées, motivations profondes ne transparaît qu’à travers les dialogues.

Le début du roman a également été difficile avec les trop nombreuses ellipses narratives. J’ai eu du mal à suivre ces bons dans le temps, mais, à la rigueur, j’en comprenais certaines : mettre rapidement des éléments en place pour arriver plus vite au coeur du sujet. Je pensais réellement qu’une fois l’intrigue bien mise en place, il n’y en aurait plus. Je me trompais. J’ai encore eu ce sentiment de sauter parfois du coq à l’âne ou d’avoir raté un épisode. Il y a des événements ou des annonces qui tombent comme un cheveu sur la soupe à cause de cette omniprésence d’ellipses. L’effet de surprise est quelque peu plat, à mon avis. À cela s’ajoutent un manque de suspens et des épisodes qui se voient venir… Non, merci.

De plus, du fait de ces ellipses narratives à répétition, le rythme et la qualité du roman sont très inégaux d’un chapitre à l’autre, ou même d’une sous-partie à l’autre. Il y a quelques aspects qui m’ont dérangé. En premier lieu, Patricia Falvey situe son roman durant une époque très intéressante. Le début du XIX siècle est mouvementé avec des bouleversements sociaux, le rejet de la société de classe avec le déclin progressif des aristocrates et des grands propriétaires terriens que le naufrage du Titanic, mais surtout la Première Guerre mondiale vont accélérer. Ces points sont évoqués dans le roman, mais ils manquent sérieusement de développement à mon goût. Tout comme pour les personnages, beaucoup de choses semblent simplement survoler.

Par exemple, l’héritier mâle d’Ennismore décède lors du naufrage du Titanic. Il s’agit aussi de l’exemple type d’annonce qui arrive sans réel suspens à partir du moment où l’auteur évoque un voyage en Amérique sur un nouveau paquebot prodigieux, mais aussi dont l’effet tombe un peu comme un cheveu sur la soupe. J’ai trouvé les conséquences de l’après traitées de manière très légère alors qu’il s’agit tout de même d’un grand chamboulement. En contrepartie, Patricia Falvey passe du temps sur d’autres aspects qui m’ont semblé bien moins intéressants. J’aurai apprécié ce livre, s’il y avait bien une centaine de pages en moins.

C’est une période historique également mouvementée pour l’Irlande, car en 1916, se déroule l’insurrection de Pâques. C’est un échec militaire du fait de l’absence de mobilisation populaire à Dublin (et Enniscorthy). La déclaration d’indépendance a lieu le 21 janvier 1919, et s’ensuit la guerre d’indépendance de janvier 1919 à juillet 1921. Elle aboutit à la création de la République d’Irlande. Arrivée à la moitié environ de cette fresque historique, avec de décider d’abandonner cette lecture, j’ai eu du mal à voir le frémissement d’une volonté de voir l’Irlande indépendante dans les deux personnages principaux. Les domestiques l’évoquent rapidement, mais plus contre les classes sociales, l’écrasement qui subissent de la part des aristocrates. J’y ai plus vu une lutte des classes que réellement une lutte indépendantiste.

The Girls of Ennismore est une fresque historique qui avait tout pour me plaire : le destin de deux femmes courageuses à une époque où elles sont cantonnées à trois rôles différents (mère et épouse, forces de travail ou prostituées) ; l’Irlande à l’aube de son indépendance avec également l’évocation du naufrage du Titanic et le premier conflit mondial. L’auteur évoque l’émancipation des femmes. Toutefois, de trop nombreux points m’ont déçue. Ce roman n’a pas su me charmer et m’impliquer dans les destins de Rosie et Victoria. Il sera bien vite oublié.