Monday, January 7, 2019

First 2 Books of 2019 - Winter in Paradise and The Women in the Castle; Jessica Shattuck


TITLE: Winter in Paradise (310 pages)
AUTHOR: Elin Hilderbrand
PUBLISHER: Little Brown & Co
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Iowa and St. John's, Caribbean
FORMAT:  - library print (borrowed)
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

  • First book of a 3 book series
  • Irene Steele is a 50-something wife and mother of 2 adult sons. Her husband travels a lot for his business. It isn't until tragedy strikes and she travels with her sons to St Johns that she learns that her husband had a secret life in the Caribbean.
  • I was surprised that it took me a while to get into this story and some of the things that happened seemed implausible. The story ends with a cliff hanger and, although overall this book left me lukewarm, I'm curious enough to want to read the next installment.


AUTHOR: Jessica Shattuck
PUBLISHER: William Morrow and Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2017
SETTING: Germany
FORMAT:  - Galley and audio download
RATING: 4/5 stars

  • "Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold"
  • Book group selection for January
  • This story opens in 1938 where Marianne Von Lingenfel is hosting a party at a Bavarian castle that has been in her husband Albrecht's family for generations. Albrecht and two friends are part of the resistance that are trying to assassinate Hitler.  He asks his wife to promise to find and protect the wives of his friends if something happens to the men (which it does).
  • After the war ends Burg Lingenfel castle is in a serious state of disrepair from the war. Marianne keeps her promise to her husband. We follow the women through decades and a detailed story of secrets unravels.
  • This was an excellent story with great writing. Although the audio was beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell, I found it very hard to follow as the story moves back and forth in time. Because of this I supplemented it with my eGalley and that worked out well.  At times the details were heartbreaking.
  • I'll be looking forward to discussing this one with my book group later this month.  I generally do not read books set in this time period, but, I'm glad I tried this one. The author is very talented.

39 comments:

  1. 2019 is off to a good start and a trip to St. Johns would be terrific!

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  2. It's been many, many years since Rod & I took a vacation to St. John, but what a gorgeous island! Not sure if the setting is enough for me to want to read Winter in Paradise, though. I did try The Women in the Castle when it first came out and couldn't get interested. Maybe I need to give it a second chance?

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    1. Wondering how St John's is after the last hurricane.

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    2. Not sure. We went back in the mid-90s. Seems like another lifetime ago!

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  3. I had the same reaction to Winter in Paradise... almost set it aside at one point. Definitely an implausible story, and it seems like one that's been written so many times before. Still, I'll probably pick up the next installment, too.

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    1. It almost made me wonder if she wrote this herself? The beginning seemed like a rough start for sure.

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  4. Good to know what your reading group is discussing this month!

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    1. I definitely would not have read this had it not been for my group.

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  5. The Women in the Castle is on my TBR and I'm so glad to see that you enjoyed it even though it's not your usual time period. I'm really looking forward to reading it. I really want to read something by Elin Hilderbrand but I'm thinking Winter in Paradise might not be the one to start with.

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    1. If you like historical fiction, Women in the Castle is very good.

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  6. Sorry Winter in Paradise wasn't as good as you thought it would be. Now I'm rethinking whether I should read it up or not.

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  7. Much as I loved the Winter Street series, I'm a bit skeptical of this one. It may, however, be just the kind of thing I need come next Dec.

    I really enjoyed The Women in the Castle. I think it would be a great book club book as there are a lot of potential topics in how the various women address the trauma in their lives and the world.

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    1. LOL - it was hard to believe Hildebrand wrote this one at times. I think the discussion will be lively on Shattuck's book.

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  8. I think this one would be difficult as an audio book as I had to focus in hard copy. I did like this one though didn't love it.

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  9. Hilderbrand is hit or miss for me and her new book isn't calling to me so I think I'll skip it. I think I'd like The Women in the Castle though.

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    1. It wasn't a favorite for sure, but, I'll still try next installment.

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  10. Glad you enjoyed Women in the Castle. I also listened on audio a couple of years ago...and then got to meet the author at Booktopia and have dinner with her! Such a fascinating take on WWII, from the women's perspectives after the war.

    Sue

    Book By Book

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    1. I bet meeting the author and listening to her inspiration was so interesting.

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  11. The Women in the Castle has intrigued me from other reviews too. Maybe I can convince my book group to read it?

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  12. Really enjoyed The Women in the Castle. Also had the chance to see the author. Might not have read the book if I hadn't seen her. Glad I did both.

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  13. I've been intrigued by THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE ever since I heard about it. It's gotten great reviews, too. I have a copy of the book, I just haven't cracked it open yet. One of these days!

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  14. The Women in the Castle has gotten some good reviews but I shy away from WAR books. I really don't care for them but I'll read one if it's really good.

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    1. Me too, I tend to avoid war stories but, since my group picked it I felt a need to read it. Should be a good discussion.

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  15. Me too, I tend to avoid war stories but, since my group picked it I felt a need to read it. Should be a good discussion.

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  16. Well, I'm disappointed about the new Hilderbrand book-- she is usually good for a pleasant, lighter read. Maybe she's trying a new writing style.

    As for the other one, I can see where that would be an interesting book with that subject matter. However, I usually bypass war stories from this past century. I find it depressing, maybe because my relatives served in WWI & II, so it hits home. But thank you for an informative review. Glad you enjoyed it with your book club.

    btw: do you have any living cats presently? I loved looking at your photos, below. I've had cats in my life my whole life, and as an adult always have at least 2 at a time.

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    1. We lost our last senior cat on 11/6 at 16.5 years and we adopted 2 siblings, Ricky and Lucy 5 weeks ago (now 8 maths old). They are super affectionate to us and each other but, we forgot how wild kitties can be. Gave away my plants after a few messes and chewed leaves - the mishaps as well LOL

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  17. Looks like you got off to a great start this year.

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  18. I like the human angle in war stories. The ability to survive despite odds against one fills me with a lot of hope.

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  19. Yes I read this one when it came out and thought it had some interesting themes and story. Here is my review of it: https://www.thecuecard.com/books/women-castle-anne-green-gables/

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  20. Hi Diane,
    I guess I'm an outlier as I really liked the first third of Winter in Paradise, BUT, I should tell you that I lay it aside when I had all those Christmas books at my fingertips in November and December.
    I have just turned to Winter in Paradise again, and will start at the beginning.
    I'm so glad you liked Women in the Castle, which I purchased in 2017. It's now languishing on my TBR Pile. I want to get to it, but my plate is full of these challenges. But maybe this year, who knows?

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