Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Star For Mrs. Blake by April Smith

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In 1929, The U.S. Congress passed legislation that would provide funding for the mothers of fallen WWI soldiers to visit the graves of their sons in France. Over the course of three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made this trip.  Smith imagines the story of five of these women, strangers who could not be more different from each other. One of them is Cora Blake, a librarian and single mother from coastal Maine. Journeying to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, the lives of these women are inextricably intertwined as shocking events – death, scandal, and secrets – are unearthed. And Cora’s own life takes an unexpected turn when she meets an American, “tin nose,” journalist, whose war wounds confine him to a metal mask.
My Review:
Four Stars
Copy received from France Book Tours for an honest review
When I started this book, "A Star For Mrs. Blake" by April Smith I anticipated that because of the content matter it would be very emotionally heavy.  Cora Blake is faced with the task not only of having lost her child to war, a devastating occurrence in itself, but of deciding if she should have her son buried in her hometown next to her family members.  Cora is not an overly emotional person, through her we see everyday occurrences but these occurrences are not burdened with emotion.  At first I found her to be cold but as the story unraveled and the stories of other characters became a part of the common loss that they all shared this lack of emotional devastation made the loss more tolerable.  There was one quote that cemented all elements of the story and that, I thought, really provided a wonderful insight to Cara, " Mrs. Roosevelt and I have always believed that where the tree falls, there let it lay." (p.14)
I really enjoyed that this was really a story focused on the historical events of the time.  The author really provided a lot of great information about not only what was happening historically but how people thought.  There was a very authentic feel to how all these characters viewed their life and the sense of duty that they had.  Although they were all dealing with sadness, loss and pain there was a stoicism and a sense of "this is what it is" that gave great insight to the dedication families felt when their children enlisted to become soldiers.  All though Cora and the other "Gold Star Mothers" are bonded by grief that did not mean they all became fast friends.  There were moments of friction as these very different woman make a journey to France to visit their fallen soldiers-their sons.  I really enjoyed this story and found it to be very insightful to the time period.  I also really loved that the author focused on this opportunity that the U.S Congress provided for mothers of fallen soldiers.  I feel like reading this book was very rewarding. 

Release date: January 14, 2014
at Knopf
ISBN-13: 978-0307958846
Hardcover, 352 pages

April Smith

April Smith is the author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey mystery series,
starting with North of Montana.
She is also an Emmy-nominated writer and producer of dramatic series and movies for television.
She lives in Santa Monica with her husband.
Visit her website.
Get in touch with her on Facebook and Twitter 

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