4. Vienna Prelude

By Bodie & Brock Thoene

Rating:  3 out of 5

I received this book at last year’s book club book exchange.  Each December we exchange books White Elephant style.

This book was a drag.  I enjoy WWII stories, but this was terribly slow.

1/10/16

This book is a WWII story that takes place in Europe.

Characters:

  • Ernestine – violinist in 1972, who purchases a 1674 Guarnerius violin with an unknown history.
  • Elisa Linder (Lindheim) – Jewish violinist in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Leah Goldblatt – Jewish cellist in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Rudy Dorbransky – violinist in the orchestra, addicted to gambling, owner of a 1674 Guarnerius
  • Shimon Fieldstein – percussionist
  • Stephan Gunther – would-be betrayer of the Nazi cause
  • Franz, Otto, Gretchen, Marta, and Karl Wattenbarger – farmers/ranchers? in the Alps
  • Anna, Wilhelm, and Dieter Linder – Elisa’s mother and brothers
  • John Murphy – an American journalist
  • Thomas Von Kleistmann- Elisa’s “ex” boyfriend, no longer allowed to have a relationship with a Jew
  • Theo Lindheim – Elisa’s father, German war hero, wealthy Jewish businessman
1/12/16
On page 38:  “Letters from Thomas von Kleistmann had been burned unopened rather than returned to him at the risk of Gestapo interception.”  I’m sure this will turn out to be the stupid decision it sounds like.  It will turn out there were important things in those letters.
1/27/16
I haven’t posted much here, because the book just isn’t doing much for me.  I’ve got some notes on paper I’ll add later.  I’m within 100 pages of the end.
2/1/16
Chapter 29 mentioned the word “Dachau” way too many times.
On page 304, I wondered why Nazis weren’t searching the train as they were the last time Elisa was on the train.  Around page 370, I was gagging over the misunderstanding between Elisa and Murphy.
Typos:
  • p12 – “t” should be “at”
  • p20 – “anxiouis” should be anxious
  • p29 – ‘is” should be “his”
  • p44 – “ay” should be “say”
  • p88 – “this should be “his”
  • p108 – “shave nd” should be “shaved”
  • p190 – “athered” should be “gathered”
  • p335 – “awas” should be “was” and “ast” should be “last”
  • p373 – Multiple words seem to be missing at the top of the page.
  • p395 – “he’ should be “she”
  • p398 – “this” should be “his”
  • p419 – “Skies ran in” should be “spies”?

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3. The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

By Ann Weisgarber

Rating:  5 out of 5

I’m taking a step backward.  This is Weisgarber’s first book.

I came home from work today, thinking I might stop reading this book.  I rarely quit on a book, but this one starts out sad, and I don’t want to read a sad book.  I decided to give it a couple more chapters, and it did have some happy chapters, so I’m a quarter of the way through and still reading.  I hope it doesn’t let me down.

1/8/16

I wonder if Ms. Weisgarber has read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book title has a similar ring to it.

1/9/16

Chapter 17.  This book gets a 5 for chapter 17.

This is a tough book, but it does a fair job of mixing some good in with the sad.

This is the story of a cook in a boarding house in Chicago in the early 1900s, who makes a deal with the owner of the boarding house’s son.  He wants to homestead in the Badlands of South Dakota.  For an $18 filing fee, any man or single woman can get 160 acres of land from the government.  Rachel agrees to let Isaac acquire 160 acres on her behalf (doubling his share), in exchange for marrying her and taking her with him.  He only wants the land.  She only wants the marriage.

The marriage lasts, though, and Isaac continues to acquire more and more land from others who give up on the harsh lifestyle.  After a long drought, Rachel is ready to give up, too.

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My Money Management Tools

Moneydance – inexpensive, full-featured software for Windows, OSX, and Linux.

Personal Capital – website and app to keep track of money, including investments.  Includes great asset allocation information, and the website has THE BEST retirement planning tool I’ve ever seen.

IMG_1603

SmartyPig – an online bank and app that lets you set up savings goals, with automatic deposits, goals, and one of the highest interest rates you can get in a savings account.  It used to be 1%, but it has recently dropped to .75%.   This is good for saving up for a vacation, new car, property taxes, Christmas, etc.  The beauty of it for me, is that I can keep track of separate pools of money in one savings account.

 

 

2.The Promise

By Ann Weisgarber

Rating:  4 out of 5

This is my first book club book of the new year.  I haven’t finished The Hammer of God yet, but I want to get started on this book now.

Back of the book:

1900.  Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio, in the wake of a terrible scandal.  Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams.  In desperation, she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar’s farm on Galveston Island, Texas, she find she is little prepared for the life that awaits her.  The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar’s little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother.  And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them.  Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar’s housekeeper, Catherine’s sudden arrival has come as a great shock.  For she has feelings for Oscar that she is struggling to suppress.  When the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before.

1/5/16

Catharine is starting to get on my nerves.  She needs to get over herself.  The book holds the attention and is a fast read.

1/6/16

The book is sucking me in.  Catharine is easing up,  I’m getting to know the characters better, and I know The Storm of the Century is coming up.  I don’t want a really sad ending, but I’ve read about the 1900 hurricane before.  It did not have a happy ending.  On that topic, I recommend Isaac’s Storm.

Now, Catherine has made a total about face.  Not very realistic.

I really like the writing on the top 2/3 of page 227.  Well done.

I’ve finished the book now.  Hard to give my full opinion without giving away the story.  I’ve probably never said this about a book before, but this is a book that could have been longer.  I think there was more story that could have been told.  Also, it was really two stories I think.  It was the story of Catharine, Oscar, and Nan, and it was a story of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane.  It was as if the hurricane story was just tacked on the end of the other story.  Don’t get me wrong, though, it was a good story.  It was hard to put down after chapter 11, after page 202, and, in fact, I did not put it down after that.

I rate it 4 out of 5.  (I give most books a 3.5, because I think most books are average.  A book has to be outstanding to get a 5 from me.)

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