In the High Peaks

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brief Update: Reading Marklund's Red Wolf, Hummel's Motherland, and Mayflower

What I like about reading three books at a time is that I can read many, many more hours per day without getting bored. Who would've thunk? Why has it taken me so long to figure this out? Granted, I understand this strategy only works when I have the time for luxurious reading sessions spaced throughout the day and evening. Thank heaven for books! That's all I can say in response to my relapse into fibromyalgia-land. I don't have the muscle strength to ski or snowshoe right now, though I have been enjoying walks on the back roads. (In winter, only very rarely do I run into a vehicle.) On our 3-mile road, there are only 5 inhabited households in winter. How I love that solitude--the communion with sky, forest, and snow!

I recommend Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower very, very highly. I've been over-the-top fascinated by each chapter. So readable! I read and don't realize I'm turning the pages, I'm that mesmerized. This authentic, 17th-century New England history wasn't taught in school--not even in high school. Maybe all the research hadn't been completed by the late 60s? It's very possible. 

Liza Marklund: I'm not sure, but I think I'm reading what may be the first book in a series: Red Wolf. Please set me straight if I'm mistaken. I needed something to fill the big empty space left by Sue Grafton's B is for Burglar, which I finished this morning. Grafton's Kinsey Millhone rejuvenates me. She is so irreverent, and has such a caustic, cynical eye on nearly everyone and everything. A delight!

But back to Marklund. I think I've read another of her novels. (I must look back.) Yet it was clear to me a year or so ago that to continue with Marklund, I must read Red Wolf. And I finished 55 pages of it today and am on my way. Oh, no, as I searched for the book cover, I discovered that Red Wolf is supposed to be #5 in a series. Really doesn't matter.

Lastly, I started my library copy of Motherland by Maria Hummel, which has received rave reviews in the U.S. thus far. It is set in the final months of World War II in Germany, a time of horrific deprivation and hardship. I'm 55 pages in and am enthralled by Liesl, who is stepmother to three children, including an infant, while her brand-new husband, a reconstruction surgeon, is at the front, trying to piece together maimed soldiers. He's working toward a desertion, as the Russians draw nearer. Yes, nothing could be worse for a German soldier than being imprisoned by the Russians at the end of World War II. If such a soldier ever saw his family again, the time would be measured in years and many of them. Just want to mention: Hummel is an exquisite writer!


  1. This is just me as someone totally opposed to what Germany did in WWII. I would not read a book sympathetic to the German soldiers, even though many wee conscripted, and even though Germany was economically devastated by both world wars.
    However, being imprisoned by Russian forces or any of the Allied forces was an inevitable consequence of the war.
    Germany did not have to fight that war or kill millions of people all over Europe, invade Poland, the Soviet Union, Greece, and other countries, commit the horrors of the Holocaust, murder partisans and Resistance fighters, destroy villages, families...all that it did.
    It was a fascist country, and it probably meant there was not way out of conscription.
    But the horrors committed by the German Army leave me no room for any sympathy for its soldiers.
    I have sympathy for Germans who were opposed to the war and the Nazi regime, but who were affected by it. There wee thousands of political prisoners, so there was all sort of opposition. Those are the people I care about.

    1. Kathy,
      I'm sorry that my post struck such a sour or painful note for you.

      I was reporting on my reading of Motherland and what it portrayed. And, of course, my reading of the book does not mean that I am defending what Germany did from the 1930s through 1945.
      But this is a piece of literature, written by an American, and I wanted to read it because I'm interested in the time period, especially what happened to civilians everywhere in Europe, and I can understand that others may not choose to read such literature and that is fine with me.

  2. I understand wanting to read good writing. I also understand matters of personal taste. And I do have a hard line on what I choose to read, and whom I want to sympathize with.

    German soldiers and their allies, and Confederate soldiers are not people I choose to read about. Other readers can disagree with that, and, of course, everyone is entitled to her/his opinion and reading taste.

    I do want to try to read Rebecca Cantrell's series, but haven't been able to do that. Just reading about a few Nazi horrors in Sara Paretsky's latest book, "Critical Mass," stayed in my mind for two months. And the
    author is Jewish, and very careful about what she writes about WWII.

    I braved WWII again and read Gordon Ferris' "Pilgrim Soul," an excellent book with wonderful characters, including an elderly Jewish militia.

    So, I hope to build up to Cantrell's books, at least one or two. I just hate to read about that war, but my goal is to get to her series.

    1. I agree with you, Kathy. Every reader needs to set limits on what he or she will tolerate in fiction. I have subjects I don't care to read about, too. It makes sense.