39 ~ Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade
I found this book a bit tough to get through. I was intrigued by the historical plot of Jewish Orphans but quickly realized it was in fact quite horrible for the orphans at the Hebrew Infant Asylum (Hebrew Infant Home in the novel). I don’t mind learning about history but I found each time the novel had a flashback to Rachel Rabinowitz’s life at the Orphan Home I wanted to skim read. Experimentation on children and the lifelong impact on the children’s general wellbeing is hard to read about. I remember not thinking much of Rachel’s description of her bright red hair until mid book when I realized what that was foreshadowing (the permanent loss of hair due to excessive X-rays). Orphan #8 was also a great deal more historical than cultural, as a reader I wanted a bit more of the Jewish heritage to come through.
On a side note, I agree with other reviewers on the fact that Rachel’s love life didn’t seem to fit the story. Rachel’s history is complex enough with the murder of her mother and Rachel and her brother being sent to the Hebrew Infant Home, therefore, I’m not sure if her being a lesbian really adds to her overall character development. I would have liked to hear more about her relationship with her brother and possibly any other connections from her childhood experiences that she carried with her into adulthood.
Orphan #8 manages to capture a dark time in history and I think because of its uniqueness it is very memorable.
38~ Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Circling the Sun was a pleasant surprise. I had previously read The Paris Wife also by Paula McLain and not really liked much about it. I gave this novel a try because I love historical fiction and the plot of British ex-pats in colonial Africa really intrigued me. Circling the Sun is a historical novel which bases its plot on the life and events of Beryl Markham in a fictional way.
Beryl Markham was not only the first female to fly solo over the Atlantic from Europe but she was also many other things. Beryl was a farmer, a horse trainer, a wife, a pilot and later in life, an author. She was an independent thinker and very ambitious. Raised on a farm in Kenya by her father, Beryl learned to fend for herself even after consecutive failures. She wrote a memoir about all of her adventures in 1942 but it was not well received at the time. Her memoir West with the Night wouldn’t become popular until it was re-released in 1983, 3 years before Beryl’s death.
If you are intrigued by the life of Beryl Markham I would highly suggest reading Circling the Sun.
37 ~ The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
A short and easy read but still an enjoyable novel. The plot was unique for this genre but the romantic interests weren’t entirely convincing. Not much to review on this book but the plot could be summaries as:
-Rachel finds out that she is actually the daughter of an Earl and resorts to a disguise to gain herself access to the family.
-She is befriended by Simon who hopes to further his own agenda by helping Rachel confront her father.
-Rachel soon finds herself in the midst of many family secrets as she discovers half siblings and extended family that were previously unbeknownst to her.
-The illusion of a love triangle seems to shatter leaving an opening for Rachel to swoop in and claim her happy ending.