Monday, December 30, 2013

currently reading (my LAST book review of 2013): A Star for Mrs. Blake

While we were away for my husband's surgery, I was contacted about reviewing the book A Star for Mrs. Blake

 by April Smith.  I read the summary and it caught my interest so I agreed.  When we got home from the trip, I was TIRED.  It had been a long two weeks of chasing a toddler around, helping with my husband post-op and I needed a mental break.  This book was waiting for me when we got home and I thought I'd just read a couple chapters to see what I thought.  Things didn't exactly go as planned because soon I was swept away into Mrs. Blake's world and reading non-stop.  In less than 24 hours I had read the entire 334 pages!  If you want to read a little more about the book, check out my review below or look for it on sale on January 14th!

(Image from Amazon)

 is a historical fiction book set in 1931, thirteen years after the end of World War I.  The story follows Cora Blake's journey from her small town in the United States to visit the grave of her son, Sammy, in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery with a group of Gold Star Mothers (referring to the gold star that hung on their service flags after a family member had died).

Cora Blake, a volunteer librarian, lives on Deer Isle, Maine where she cares for her three nieces, and keeps tabs on her trouble-making brother-in-law.  Living the midst of the Great Depression, Cora makes ends meet by working in the cannery and a frugal lifestyle.  When a letter comes from the US government, Cora has a flashback to the letter she received 13 years ago telling her that her only son, who had lied about his age to enlist in the Army, had been killed in action.  This letter, however, was an invitation to join other Gold Star Mothers to visit their sons final resting places in France, paid for by the United States.

With little hesitation, Cora decides she will join the pilgrimage.  She travels to New York City where she meets the group with whom she'll be traveling - four other Gold Star Mothers, a young nurse and a newly commissioned Army officer.  The women are all unique, coming from different religions, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels, which adds drama to an already emotional journey.  Once in France, Cora meets an American journalist, Griffin Reed, who was injured during the war and is now forced to wear a metal mask to cover his wounds.  When Cora tells Griffin the story of her pilgrimage, including a secret she's kept for years, he writes an article about her that brings with it a surprise ending.

A Star for Mrs. Blake is based on the stories of deceased Army Colonel Thomas West Hammond, "whose first assignment as a graduate of West Point Academy was to accompany a party of Gold Star Mothers...on the pilgrimage to France."  After I finished the book, I did some researching of my own and found that April Smith had done an excellent job of weaving historical fact within her fictional story.  The characters quickly grew dear to my heart and I was moved to tears many times throughout the book.  As I read about mothers crying over their sons graves, I found myself stopping the book for a moment to scoop my son into my arms and tell him about much I love him.  This book gave me a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of our veterans and their families and a great appreciation for my own family.

My Rating: 5 Stars

**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

**This post contains Amazon Associates links

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