Deadlines, books, and fiction matters
Two I loved, one I don't, and some others didn't either
Oh wow, these last two weeks have been crazy. My last day off work was May 31st, and then I worked 17 days straight. Forty years ago, I fell into my career at a CPA firm, and except for a few years in between, I’ve always worked at CPA firms. After all these years, I still dislike the built-in deadlines of public accounting. Those deadlines have always been demanding; however, being so close to retirement makes the remaining few deadlines even harder. Usually, from early January through April 15th, you bust your butt to get the majority of the accounting and tax returns completed and then look forward to a normal workload for a few months until it’s time to do it all over again for the extended dues dates. Last year and this year have been crazy with the IRS extending the original April 15th due date to July 15th last year and June 15th this year. It has made for a much more stressful tax season. For my clients who love to procrastinate, the extra time didn’t change anything; they still procrastinated to the very end.
On a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, a client signed off his email to me with “Have a good weekend.” I chuckled and replied that tax season and a good weekend do not go together very well.
Now on to things that are so much more fun than tax season . . .
While I might have been working straight through, I was still reading, slower than usual. I would usually fall asleep reading my current book. Working many extra hours left me really tired, but I can’t NOT read when I go to bed at night; my day isn’t complete until I read for a few minutes at the very least.
I am a member of Bookbrowse, and for May, I was chosen for one of the monthly First Impression books to read and then participate in the discussion, The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. Several times during the year, I participate in either the review or the discussion of books, and I was excited to read this one. I’ve had it on my TBR for months and just hadn’t read it yet; some shiny new book always got in the way.
Oh my, why did I wait as long as I did to read this book? Harmel, in her early career, started out writing Contemporary fiction. Some would call it chic-lit, but she switched to WWII historical fiction several books and years back, and her writing took off like a rocket. She chooses a fact that happened during the war, usually not something most people have heard about, and creates historical fiction books with rich characters and storylines that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Her books do not always end in HEA, but the ending makes sense and is satisfying for the story you have just read.
In The Book of Lost Names, Eva and her mother flee France after the Nazi soldiers capture her father. They traveled to a city close to the Swiss border to escape the Nazi occupation. Eva plied her craft of making realistic-looking documents for others fleeing the war. Many of these people are children, and she devises a method to keep track of the children’s names that were changed, hence the book's title. Eva works with Remy, Father Pere Clement, and others to help Jews flee the occupation with forged documents and is especially drawn to the children that arrive parentless. In this endeavor, she uses her abilities to save these children from the Nazis with false IDs and remember their names before being changed. She feels it is essential to preserve each child’s name for the future, the name their parents gave them and wanted them to be known by.
I found the book thought-provoking, immersive, and at times, terribly difficult to read. Yet, there is hopefulness in the pages and the characters. The plot is about life, love, heartbreak, deception, loss, and betrayal. Knowing that it is based on actual events makes the heartbreak all the more real and the wins all the more satisfying.
The reviews for this book are all over the place. Some readers think it is her best book yet, and others said they had difficulty getting through it. While I don’t necessarily agree it is her best book yet, I stand firmly with the good reviews. I enjoyed the book and the characters very much. I’m not well versed in WWII history; I was not too fond of history in school, so most of what I’ve learned has been from historical fiction the last several years. However, I do agree that there is so much WWII historical fiction written recently that, at times, the reader wants something different. If you still desire to learn more about WWII, this book gives you a great read about something not part of most WWII books.
If you’ve read this book, tell me what you thought about it in the comments. Did you think the war and characters were portrayed realistically? Had you ever read about people who were expert forgers in other WWII books? If you haven’t read this yet, is it something that interests you, and do you think you will read it?
I discovered Substack several months back, and as a reader, I love the newsletter’s model. I subscribe to way too many newsletters and read as many as I can when they are published. Then, I click the 🧡 to denote that I have read that issue of the newsletter (it helps me keep track of what I’ve read), and it gives the newsletter creator some thanks.
Occasionally, I will highlight another Substack newsletter that I’m excited to read every time I see it in my email. Most will be about books, some will be lifestyle-related, and a few will be because they’re fun to read. I’ll try to avoid controversial topics like politics and religion. Still, occasionally there might be a link in one of these newsletters that could go down one of those roads. I apologize if that happens; overall, the newsletter creator I highlight is a worthwhile read.
This week’s highlighted newsletter is FictionMatters. Sara Hildreth writes the FictionMatters newsletter on Substack and also has a website of the same name. And if she’s not busy enough with that, she has a Patreon of the same name too. She is one-half of the duo that produces the Novel Pairings podcast and the Novel Pairings Patreon. One of my favorite newsletters is a recent one titled “Inside my slow reading week.” She always gives updates on what is going on in her personal life, her reading life, and she usually has several links of bookish fun in her weekly newsletter. I hope you enjoy it!