Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Family Drama THE OTHER MRS SAMSON by Ralph Webster

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Other Mrs Samson by Ralph Webster

55990888. sy475

4*
This book, for me, went from nicely readable but only moderately interesting, to absolutely unputdownable, and back to only moderately interesting.  The first narrator, in the present day, finds a secret horde of papers belonging to his recently deceased, ninety-five-year-old friend, Katie Samson, from which he surmises that her husband had been married before.  At this point, although not enthralled, I thought, well, this is certainly no chore to read, being nicely written and with the possibility of a great story to come.


…and whoosh, there it was. I turned the page to the POV of Hilda, the first wife, and the book bloomed, opened up, emerged from black and white into glorious technicolour.  Hilda’s story went back as far as her grandparents’ experience in San Francisco Gold Rush days, and on to the making of that city, the role of women in the Victorian era, life in a small Bavarian village, changing times and growing problems in Europe, to do with Germany’s place in the world – I was gripped, all the way through.  Hilda and her grandmother were so alive, and aside from being a great story with wonderful characters, it was historically informative.  Fascinating.  Loved it.

Next came Katie’s POV, and at first I still liked it a lot, as I read about her family tragedies, the aftermath of WW1 and Berlin’s ‘Roaring Twenties’, the effects of American’s Great Depression on the rest of the world, the Nazi party’s growing control, and her and lover Josef’s route out.  Then the lead up to the WW2 … and I’m afraid it all went a bit flat for me, and became nothing more than a factual account of someone’s life. Events are recorded, but without emotion; all we ever learn is that the threat to Josef, a Jew, was ‘very unsettling’.  I read of their luck at being able to move from one place to another just in time, before the Gestapo established travel restrictions, but it was no more thrilling to read about than the sentence I have just written.  There was no emotion, no action, no feeling of danger, no story, just an account.

I was disappointed by my disappointment, if you know what I mean, because I loved the book so much earlier on; for instance, Katie’s only brother, Karl, joins the Nazi party and gains a position of authority, but that’s all—we never hear about him again, and there is no story attached to this.  At the end there is another little twist, but it seems almost like an afterthought.  


Four stars on Amazon because Hilda’s part was absolutely 5* plus, and because the author writes in an extremely accessible fashion, so that even the 3* bits were no effort to read.  I would recommend it to readers who like a family drama and are interested in reading about the history of the times mentioned – it’s worth getting just for the middle section.

Book description

Surviving two wars, sharing one husband, searching for answers.

A secret compartment in a black lacquer cabinet left in an attic reveals the secrets of two incredible women: Hilda, born and raised in one of the wealthiest Jewish families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, and Katie, whose early life in Germany is marked by tragedy and death. Their lives are forever entwined by their love of the same man, the brilliant and compassionate Dr. Josef Samson.

From the earliest, rough-and-tumble days of San Francisco, through the devastation of the Great War in Berlin and the terrors of Vichy France, and then to a new yet uncertain life in New York City, their stories span the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. In the end, one of these women will complete the life of the other and make a startling discovery about the husband they share.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

55990888. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilyDrama BIRDS DON’T CRY by Sandy Day

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Birds Don’t Cry by Sandy Day

55820185. sy475

This review is done as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I purchased the book.


Birds Don’t Cry is a story of relationships between siblings, something to which most of us can relate. Middle-aged Kaffy Sullivan, ornery and set in her ways, lives in Sullivan House, an old inn set next to a magnificent forest and open for tourists to stay. She hopes to live out her life there, maintaining her grandparents’ legacy to their three grandchildren. Kaffy, with the volunteer help of her sister-in-law, Sylvia, is determined to keep the inn going. She has come to rely on Sylvia for setting up, chicken dinners on Saturday nights, and lively conversations with the guests (something which Kaffy can’t manage). Now she is faced with a reviewer from The Lonely Tripper books coming to stay at the inn, something that could make or break its reputation. Trying to bring the lovely inn upto date, she has hired her creepy brother, Red, Sylvia’s husband, to expand the front porch before the visit.

One morning before that visit, Sylvia doesn’t show up at the inn and seems to have disappeared. Kaffy is puzzled and also apprehensive that she can get Sullivan House ready in time without Sylvia’s help. It takes some time before Kaffy realizes that Sylvia is really missing – distracted as she is by keeping a horse and its foal she finds in the woods, knowing full well the horses belong to a neighbor who comes looking for them.


She finally realizes her brother doesn’t seem to care that his wife is missing and after several days starts asking questions, eventually calling the police. Adding to her stress is the impending reading of her grandmother’s will and wondering if she will be allowed to keep Sullivan House. In the meantime, her brother and her conniving and greedy older sister Maxine are conspiring to remove her and sell the house. The stress brings out memories buried for years, making the world a much darker place for Kaffy.


Where is Sylvia? Can Kaffy get her life under control? Will her odious brother and nasty sister throw her out of her beloved home?

This is definitely a psychological story of sibling rivalry and buried memories, but I had some problems with it. Perhaps the author intended for Kaffy to seem as somewhat distractible and clueless as she first seems, although her character improves as you read further into the book. Her taking the horses she found in the woods while looking for Sylvia was an odd and an unlikely diversion. Red seems equally oblivious to the disappearance of his wife. Is his aimlessness and waffling a family trait? He is also not averse to some skullduggery with his older sister, Maxine, that would have a profound effect on Kaffy, and there is much more to his relationship with Kaffy than initially apparent. Maxine plays much less of a role in the book but is sharply drawn and eminently unlikable. Nevertheless, the author created enough interest in the characters to keep me reading.


The author touches on a lot of subjects involving these siblings – mental health, sexual assault, theft – and manages to move between them fairly deftly, but there is a certain awkwardness to the book that I can’t quite put my finger on. I will say the ending was somewhat unsatisfying – I wanted more, which tells me I had become invested in the characters.

Book description

Sometimes sisters and brothers don’t get along – even when they’re middle aged.

Kaffy Sullivan lives and works in the business her grandparents began in the 20th century. Reclusive and offbeat, Kaffy hopes to inherit the inn and, with the help of her sister-in-law, operate it for the rest of her life.

When an important publication makes a reservation, Kaffy is under pressure to get Sullivan House spruced up in time for the review. But Sylvia, who Kaffy depends on, has disappeared. She hasn’t shown up for work, and Kaffy’s bad-tempered brother doesn’t seem to care that his wife is missing.

Cracking under the pressure to get the inn ready, and more urgently, find Sylvia, Kaffy struggles through a harrowing nest of repressed memories and traumatic family rivalries.

For readers of women’s fiction and domestic thrillers, Birds Don’t Cry is a page turner that drops you directly into one family’s conflict and search for survivors.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

55820185. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilyDrama THE SUM OF OUR SORROWS by @lisettebrodey

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Sum Of Our Sorrows by Lisette Brodey

55852381. sy475

The Sum of Our Sorrows is first and foremost a story of the worst kind of loss – that of a mother, leaving behind with her young daughters. It weaves into the tragedy the kindness of a dear friend, the slow healing of the mind (with and without professional help), the behavioral changes in both children and husband such a loss can create, and redemption. A lot to pack into a book!


Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is tragically killed in a car accident in northern California. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car and survives but is emotionally and mentally altered by the experience. I was completely drawn to the oldest daughter, Lily, who while suffering the same loss, is told by her father that she must give up her job and her plans for college to stay home and take care of her sisters and him. She acquiesces without quite understanding why her father would ask that of her, and it is clear that none of his daughters truly know him, except from a distance. Lily desperately wants a life of her own and is torn between knowing she has to care for her family and wanting to leave. She realizes that if she leaves her two younger sisters they may not recover from the loss. When her father makes more and more demands of her, treating her as his wife in all but the physical sense and demanding she no longer interact with her friends, her desperation only grows.


Lily’s voice is obviously very strong, as was Charlotte’s, the middle child. I truly felt Lily’s confusion, guilt and sorrow and Charlotte’s continuous rebellion against her family as an outlet for her grief. Her troubles only pile up as time goes on, and Lily is patient when she can’t reach her. Maybe too patient, but Lily is not one to make demands or voice her own opinion except to her closest friends. Willow, the youngest child at twelve, was not as clearly defined. She seemed preternaturally old for her age, and sometimes her voice was so akin to Lily’s that I felt Lily was talking to herself. I would have liked to see her with some normal preteen problems.


Dalton, the father, was so ignorantly overbearing and dismissive of Lily’s needs that I wanted to give him a good shake, so in that sense, the author did a good job creating his character. His dismissal of Kady – Abby’s best friend and now Lily’s confidant – from their lives hinted early on that there was much more to this family than initially apparent. Just when Lily’s life has reached its lowest point, something wonderful happens, but that something only makes things even more difficult for Lily. You have to read the book to find out.


I will say the ending is a little too tidy for me. Life is messy and its struggles are rarely resolved by being tied up in a bow. So I wish the end was not so perfect, although it should please many readers.


This was a good book, one that kept my attention long enough to be riveted by the twists arising from the backstory of Abby’s life and the surprises in Lily’s. For readers who like family dramas with some right turns and a little romance, this will be a pleaser.

Book description

In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.

Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble?

Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves?

The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined.

It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

55852381. sy475