What have you been reading in February?

These are the books I’ve read during February 2019. What have you been reading?

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

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OK I’ll admit it – I was seduced by the cover. I mean, look at how eye-catchingly colourful and cool it is! Turns out the cover truly reflects the main characters, Sara and Gerald Murphy, who are just as colourful as the cover.

What made this fascinating is that the story is based upon real people. Without giving too much away, Sara and Gerald Murphy were the inspiration behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, and Villa America is a fictionalised version of their lives, with much of the story based upon actual events.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, appear, as does Ernest Hemingway, who were all members of the Murphy’s circle of friends when they lived the high life in the French Riviera during the 1920s and 1930s.

The book details the Murphy’s marriage and family life, and drips with the glamour of the period; these were people who threw parties for famous friends and for whom money was no object. Behind all the glitz, there is romantic yearning, lust, and a tragic tale to tell.

Days of Grace by Catherine Hall

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From one book full of romantic yearning to another. Nora is a young girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager when she is evacuated from London during WWII, leaving her beloved Ma behind to start a new life in the Kent countryside.

She is placed with a minister, his wife and their daughter, Grace, who is the same age as Nora. The story of the girls’ friendship is told in flashbacks as the now elderly Nora welcomes a young new mother into her home, and is reminded of the past. This is a gripping read, with dark twists and turns.

SS-GB by Len Deighton

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In February 1941 British Command surrendered to the Nazis. Churchill has been executed, the King is in the Tower and the SS are in Whitehall…

This book, published in 1978, was made into a TV series a couple of years ago, kinda like the UK’s answer to The Man in the High Castle (which was also based on a book of the same name). I have watched neither, but after reading Fatherland by Robert Harris last year, which is another alternate history novel detailing what might have happened if Hitler won WWII, I decided to give this book a go.

I should really know by now that thrillers aren’t quite my thing. I found the murder investigation a bit boring, and the romance unrealistic, but I enjoyed the alternate history concept, and the details of what life in London might have been like under German occupation.

So what have you been reading recently? Let me know in the comments below!

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