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In Farleigh Field–World War II spy novel

In Farleigh Field

by Rhys Bowen

In Farleigh FieldI was late coming to the TV series Downton Abbey, but it is now a fait accompli, and I enjoyed it very much. I found In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen to be reminiscent of Downton Abbey in its focus on the titled upper class during the hardships and upheavals of World War II. The plot is not highly complex, but it is interesting as characters of various social ranks use their skills to help England survive the Nazi onslaught.

I have two criticisms of the book. The character of Lady Diana (Dido) repeatedly whines about the war’s hampering her coming of age social season. I suppose a young woman could be that self-centered, but I kept wanting to tell her to grow up and look at the devastation surrounding her. Even her younger sister, Lady Phoebe (Feebs), seems  mature, especially in times of crisis, at age twelve compared to her eighteen year old sibling. My other issue with In Farleigh Field is the ambivalence over secrets that are crucial to national security. The rules were emphasized over and over again and then broken on several occasions. At the same time, it seemed that more would be accomplished if branches of government cooperated.

The book does give insight into what it must have been like during World War II in England to work as a civilian for the government. Women were assumed to have secretarial jobs and men were thought to have bravery issues because they were not in the military.

I enjoyed the book, including the spy intrigue. There were surprises that kept the reader engaged, the setting was interesting, and the characters were appropriately either agreeable or unlikable.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lake Union Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

Notes: World War II era

Publication:  March 1. 2017–Lake Union Publishing

Memorable Lines:

“Nasty Americanism, the word ‘weekend,’ ” Lord Westerham remarked. Although he had known Clementine Churchill for many years, he still hadn’t quite forgiven her for being American.

“I said she should have Margot’s bedroom, since she’s not likely to need it, but Pah said that standards had to be kept up, and it was not right for the staff to sleep on the same floor as the family, even if there was a war on.”

It was such a typical thing for someone like Lord Westerham to say. Not admitting that anything was allowed to change, even when the whole world was disintegrating around him.

Sunrise Canyon–guilt, secrets, and a family’s love

Sunrise Canyon

by Janet Dailey

sunrise-canyonThe sun rises on the Flying Cloud Ranch in Arizona, not too far from Tucson, with beautiful descriptions by Janet Dailey in Sunrise Canyon. The ranch belongs to Dusty, a cowboy in his seventies. Originally a working ranch, with the changing times Flying Cloud became a dude ranch and then evolved into a ranch for troubled teens.  Dusty’s granddaughter Kira is a licensed Equine-Assisted Therapist.  Together they manage the program and raise five year old Paige. The characters have complex backgrounds and relationships. Paige’s mother, Wendy, died in a car accident and her father Jake never returned for her after his last tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Kira and Jake both harbor guilt, but about different situations. The reader is gradually made aware of the causes as the story progresses.  Various interesting plot elements unfold as Jake and Kira get to know and trust each other and as the precocious Paige is drawn to the stranger Jake who has come to work on the ranch.  We also get a glimpse of the side stories of the teenagers who have suffered from trauma, bullying and dysfunctional home situations.

Sunrise Canyon falls right in between General Fiction for adults and a Romance. It is almost as if the genres are dancing, with the fiction storyline taking the lead and then bowing to the tension of the romance. They separate at times and then come to sway and twirl together. I prefer a good plot rather than emphasis on syrupy or steamy romance. I think Sunrise Canyon finds a nice balance with an interesting tale intertwined with  conflicting desires and needs.

Exciting and descriptive, Sunrise Canyon affords a view of PTSD, equine-assisted therapy, and Arizona ranch life.  I found the characters to be sympathetic and I wanted a satisfactory ending for them.  I got that along with some unanticipated adventure.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Notes: 1. mild swearing and sex

2. If you like motorcycles, you will delight in that minor part of the story. (Telling more would be a spoiler for a nice surprise.)

Publication: Kensington Books — February 28, 2017

Memorable Lines:

His eyelids were growing heavy. He was drifting now, his awareness clouding over as if blurred by windswept sand…

The moon was a fading crescent in the western sky, the sun barely streaking the east with the colors of dawn.

The horrors he’d not only witnessed but taken part in were burned into every nerve cell in his body, and woven into the fabric of his soul. They had become the man he was–the man he would be for the rest of his life.

McNamara’s Folly: the Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War

by Hamilton Gregory

This is a fascinating presentation by Hamilton Gregory (author, public speaker, educator, and journalist) at a college book signing for a book he wrote about using low-IQ soldiers in war. He draws on his own experiences in the Vietnam War as well as extensive research. His goal is to give a voice to those who were not able to speak up for themselves and to their families whose warnings were not heeded. In the prologue he says:

“While I was in the Army (1967-1970), I got to know some of McNamara’s substandard soldiers, and I vowed that someday I would tell their stories and give the historical background. This book is the fulfillment of that vow.”

Rating: 5/5

Category: Military History

Notes: Hamilton Gregory is my brother. I am aware that current protocol for reviewers is that they should not review the works of relatives. I, however, do no advertising and I make no money from this blog. I am retired, and this blog is my personal space for reflection on education and on books. I feel strongly that this is an excellent book and tells a tale that needs to be shared. I do highly recommend that you read it. You don’t have to be interested in military history; you just have to care about people. For official reviews and recommendations, I suggest you visit Amazon.com where people who are experienced experts in the field and are more qualified than I am have posted reviews. From my non-military viewpoint, I am amazed at the way the author intertwines data with the stories he gathered to make a compelling argument that our country should never let this happen again.

mcnamaras-follyPublication:  Infinity Publishing–June 2015

Memorable Lines:  “Freddie’s death hit me hard.  I remembered how he was always sighing–an indication of the tremendous anxiety he experienced in Special Training.  I remembered how he lacked the mental quickness to qualify with the M-14 rifle. I felt enormous anger, which I still feel decades later.  He never should have been drafted.  He never should have been ‘administratively passed’ at Special Training.  He never should have been sent into combat.”

 

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