The Cherry Harvest

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

I enjoy reading historical fiction because I like to feel that I’m right there with the characters.  A friend recommended this book for me because it takes place in Wisconsin, as well as for my interest in WWII and most likely because of my fascination with the TV show Hogan’s Heroes.  So to read a book about German POWs in Wisconsin was something I would definitely try, and didn’t put it off and pushed it ahead of the books I had already started.  

What intrigues me about historical fiction is being so immersed in the story that I then want to go and find out more about the historical topic, which is what I was hoping for when I turned the first page of The Cherry Harvest.  I was rather disappointed.  

I don’t like to be too harsh of a critic because this was a nice story.  It just wasn’t the story I was looking for.  

There was a lot of sex in this book.  I wanted to read about the German POWs (or PWs as they referred to them in the book) and what it was like to have them in Wisconsin while America as still deep in the war with Nazi Germany.

Instead what I got was a story about a farm family who badly needed labor and with all the men in the area drafted into the war, including their son, they turned to the US Army to allow them the use of German PWs.  The community was not happy about this and afraid to have the Germans around dangerous, potentially deadly farm equipment.   That’s it.  I feel like the two Germans characters stay in the background and walk in and out of the book at certain times.  The setting of the Germans is central to the plot, but it doesn’t go into detail about them and their experiences specifically.  The family’s teenage daughter is tutored by one of the prisoners who proves to be intelligent and well spoken in English.  Immediately, you expect the daughter Katie to fall in love with him.  She doesn’t.  It’s the mother who does even though she resisted feelings for him because her son was risking his life fighting the Germans.  The mother, Charlotte, is not a likable character, and she ends up being the downfall of the family as a whole.

The story focused mostly about Katie falling in love with a Senator’s son who is profiting from the war and her desire to leave rural northern Wisconsin to go to college in Madison and study literature like her father attempted to do.  So the Cherry Harvest was more of a coming of age love story.  It was a good story if I were looking for a romance novel, but I wasn’t.    

I looked up another review of this book and found that the author used this non-fiction book called Stalag Wisconsin so I have already begun reading this book and the first 50 pages are already giving me what I am looking for.  

Here is the link to an article about the factual information about German Prisoners of War in Wisconsin and mentions the Stalag Wisconsin book as well.


Lily’s Crossing

I won’t deny that I like to read young adult books and frequently browse through the Children’s section at the library.  I run my fingers across the spines of all the books until I find on with a sticker on the side that says historical and I know that I have stopped on something that I’m sure to like!!

historical fiction

The book I chose this week was called Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff.

What makes this a historical fiction book is that it takes place in the WWII era around the time of D-Day.  

(I don’t mean for these blogs to be a spoiler, but I will tell the plot details.)

Lily is an only child who lives with her father and her grandmother.  It’s summer vacation and Lily always looks forward to spending the summer away from home at Rockaway beach, where her Gram has a summer cottage on the ocean.  (I always wished as a child that I could have spent my summers somewhere else.)  However, with the war on, this summer would not be the same as those in the past, and nothing was going Lily’s way from the beginning of her vacation.

The story had a lot to do with friendships and relationships and then WWII was a secondary plot which impacted Lily’s young life.

Her best friend Margaret would not be able to spend the summer with her as planned.  Her family was packing up the house the first day Lily got to Rockaway because her father was going to take a job in Detroit at a manufacturing plant.  Also her older brother was in the war and reportedly missing after the Normandy invasion. 

Lily’s 2nd bit of bad news came when her father told her he was going to have to go overseas with the Army because they needed engineers to help rebuilt Europe.  Lily was so angry at her father that she didn’t even bother to say goodbye or see him one last time before he departed.  

Her new friendship came in the form of an immigrant boy named Albert from Budapest.  He had to leave his sister behind in France on his journey to America because she was ill.  The Aunt and Uncle he was staying with said he could be friends with Lily.  

Lily has a wild imagination and thought Albert with his accent was a Nazi spy.  She daydreamed about being a hero in the war and capturing Nazi’s and saving the world.  Her day dreams were helped by the fact that there was a military base nearby where planes were practicing their maneuvers and ships would be coming and going from the port near by.  Sometimes she turned her daydreams into lies and she convinced Albert that they could swim out to the ships one night and stow away on board and go over to Europe themselves.  Eventually Lily had to tell Albert the truth, that it wasn’t going to be possible.  

Though the correspondence with her father, he was able to secretly communicate to her where he was through the titles and plots of books he recommended she read.  Fortunately enough, he was in France and she pleaded with him to look for Albert’s sister. 

The summer ended and she and Gram had to go back home, and Albert would return to Canada.  It was uncertain if she would see him again.  They had grown to be best friends.

In the end, her father had returned home safely and had located Albert’s sister.  As for Margaret’s brother, he remained MIA.



The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President

Maggie Turner's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President (Kindle Edition)

by George Pendle

My rating 1 of 5 stars

I admit that when I purchased this book, I may not have read all the reviews. Millard Fillmore sitting on top of a unicorn made me suspicious, but not enough to push me away. I thought of it as an attention grabber to get more readers interested.

Leave it to a British author to try and write about American History and this is what you get !

In the first few pages Pendle seems to say some wonderful things about Fillmore and I felt that someone else finally felt the way that I do about the 13th President. It wasn’t until later, I realized he was mocking Fillmore and me for that matter. I had a hard time picturing Fillmore’s great great grandfather being a swashbuckling pirate, nor his grandfather being of the kind to sit in the forest and eat linens. I even read past the part where Fillmore’s journals were found in a village in Northern Uganda where they worshiped them as sacred objects. It was once I got to the chapter that began with Millard’s life and the author said that the family couldn’t afford to give him a middle name, I put the book down and began to wonder if I had been taken in. Believe me, I have my receipt and I want my money back!!

I realize now the book is a joke, and I’m past feeling humiliated by it. I find some creativity in Pendle’s writing and for that only credit is due. I can’t beg Half Priced Books to buy it from me for a penny because I had downloaded the Kindle version so instead of deleting it (the e-version of book burning) I’ll keep it around for those nights when I have insomnia.

I try to be a reasonable Millard Fillmore fan. I’m sure the man himself would be able to take this book with a grain of salt and laugh it off. I understand he doesn’t rank high on the list of great presidents, but if you read biographies by Robert Scarry or W.L. Barre (published in 1856 when first-hand information was still available) you would see Fillmore in a different light. Millard Fillmore was chosen as Vice President even though he didn’t want the job. He was a dedicated civil servant and realized that if the people wanted him, believed in him, and chose him as vice-president then he was willing to step up and do the job for the people. That type of giving of one’s life, unselfishly to the public has been lost to labor’s history, as is Fillmore’s true reputation.

View all my reviews      Maggie Turner's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Mount Vernon Love Story

Maggie Turner's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)


Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington

by Mary Higgins Clark

My rating:4 of 5 stars ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washingtonlove to read is historical fiction so when I became acquainted with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, I was offered the chance to purchase Mount Vernon Love Story autographed by Mary Higgins Clark. This was her first published novel and this is a re-release of it.

George Washington is such an immortalized figure in American History, that I feel he has just become a stone statue and people don’t see him as ever being a real man. Mary Higgins Clark has chiseled away at this rock and revealed a more sensitive side to the myth and legend of George Washington though the emotions of love, fulfillment, longing and loss. George’s story begins when he was a fatherless boy, in an unhappy childhood home and goes through the last few days of his Presidency. Gratefully she had stayed away from the “wooden teeth” storyline (although they were horse and animal dentures, not wood…. I’ve seen them). The reader comes to understand the reasons he didn’t marry the love of his life and how it affected his marrage to Martha.

* As a note, this book doesn’t involve the recanting of military battles or presidential decrees, but cleverly, major events in history are mentioned as a reference to the timeframe.

View all my reviews      Maggie Turner's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)