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review 2016-11-13 00:20
Communist "witch" hunt during the '50s
Home Sweet Home: A novel - April Smith

This book is loosely based on a real-life family who was victimized by the fear and hatred created during the McCarthy era.   Cal Kuseck and his wife Betsy move their two children, Jo and Lance, to a cattle farm in South Dakota.  The book chronicles their struggle to adapt to their new life.  Cal becomes interested in politics and serves three terms in the State Assembly.  When he decides to run for the Senate, the FBI looks more closely into his and his family’s past affiliations and learn of Betsy’s short membership in the Communist party when she was a very young woman.  Cal’s political enemies start a smear campaign and his friends and neighbors turn against him.  This all leads to a libel lawsuit and ultimately, many years later, to murder.


I had expected this to be a fascinating, empathetic book but for some reason, I never could really connect with the characters. I thought this book would really speak to my heart, especially during this difficult time in our country when people are so divided and fear is prevalent.  I read this book during the last days of the presidential election.  But I really didn’t get caught up in the victimization of this family and didn’t find much suspense in the murder either.   It felt a bit flat and disjointed to me. But it’s certainly a timely book and shows just how fear and hate can grow in a country until it produces unreasonable mass hysteria.


This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.

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review 2015-03-17 00:00
A Star for Mrs. Blake
A Star for Mrs. Blake - April Smith I read this book in 2 days, so it's obviously compelling, but I felt like there were too many characters. I would have liked it if it just focused on the 5 women and not given the backstory to all the other people with them. I also thought it would have been more interesting if the first Mrs. Russell would have been allowed to stay, even though I recognize this is not historically accurate. Also I felt like the death storyline was overly contrived or something--I definitely was not as engaged in the story after that happened.
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review 2015-01-12 14:20
A Star for Mrs. Blake - April Smith

An unlikely group of five women, all from different backgrounds, find themselves becoming friends in difficult circumstances.  All of them are WWI Gold Star Mothers, taking advantage of the US Government's offer of a trip to France to see their sons' final resting place.  At the center of the group is Cora Blake, a librarian from a tiny town in Maine.  She is so eager to help she is given the made-up job of member coordinator ... and thus gets to know the women before they all depart.

It is after they begin their journey together that the women become close, working initially through conflicts between cultures and class.  

The book examines prejudice, post-traumatic stress disorder (through the eyes of a seriously injured journalist who befriends the women in France), and different ways that humans love each other.  The characters are richly drawn and interesting, and the author's research brings post-war Paris to life.

Highly recommended.

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review 2014-04-21 20:52
A Star for Mrs. Blake
A Star for Mrs. Blake - April Smith

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith is a book about the gold star mothers - mothers who have lost a child in the service of their country. The book is about one group's pilgrimage to visit the grave sites of their children in Europe. Some of the writing was emotional and moving but the book had a number of different story lines. It could have been a truly wonderful book had the story remained more focused.


Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/04/a-star-for-mrs-blake-novel.html


Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/04/a-star-for-mrs-blake-novel.html
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review 2014-01-14 00:00
A Star for Mrs. Blake: A Novel
A Star for Mrs. Blake: A Novel - April S... A Star for Mrs. Blake: A Novel - April Smith Review first appeared on fefferbooks.com.

As I got drawn into this story, I started thinking of it as an American, WWI-era Enchanted April. It's an ensemble sort of narrative with a large, somewhat eccentric cast of characters, and the tone is extremely observational. It can take a little getting used to, but after I adjusted, I really enjoyed it. I was mightily disappointed to have to put it down, about 75% finished, because of a swearing issue that cropped up. I'll even admit to skipping to the end to find out what happened to my favorite people. (!!)
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