Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "Casanova's Secret Wife"

Synopsis: Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk.

Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever …

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget.

Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.

My Thoughts: I haven't read too many books set in Italy but after reading Casanova's Secret Wife, I may have to change that.  I loved the descriptions of Venice; the city, the homes, clothes, everything.  Ms. Lynn-Davis' writing was marvelous and she painted a lovely picture of life in Venice during that time period.

While the love affair between Casanova and Caterina was interesting to read about, I was more enamored by the relationship that Caterina built with Leda.  I really enjoyed watching Caterina and Leda pull each other out of their shells and becoming almost like family.  In the beginning of the story, I was worried that Leda was going to cause trouble but she almost became like a daughter to Caterina.  There was just something about their relationship that really struck me.

Marina was a really good, and unexpected, villain.  Villain might be too strong of a word but man, I didn't like her.  She was so manipulative and self-centered despite the fact that she tried to spin her actions as being out of love.  She was very well-written and even though I didn't like her, she was a really strong character.

Casanova's Secret Wife was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm so glad I picked this one up! 3 1/2 stars.

About the Author:


Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from Brown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her Ph.D. in Renaissance art at Princeton University.

She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.

For more information please visit Barbara Lynn-Davis’ website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

 GIVEAWAY:
  
Enter to win a paperback copy of Casanova's Secret Wife here !  

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 


Friday, July 21, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "Lilli de Jong" by Janet Benton

Synopsis: A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

My Thoughts:  I've been in a terrible reading rut lately so I was looking forward to picking this book up. I've read a lot of good things about it over the past couple of months and I must say, this book definitely lives up to the hype.  The writing is quite lovely and the story is so very good.

I've never read a story quite like this one.  It is told from the point of view of Lilli who keeps a diary recording her life in a Quaker group and her time in a home for unwed mothers.  She has such a passion for writing and it adds a lot to the story to hear it told in the main character's own words. 

Lilli's story really showcased the struggles unwed mothers faced at the end of the 19th century.    Everything about Lilli's life was precarious, she had to balance finding ways to make sure her daughter was safe while also trying to keep up with her job responsibilities.  I loved her strength and devotion to her daughter.  And really, it seemed like Lilli was one of the lucky ones; other women she knew ended up in some bad situations and their babies didn't stand a chance.  It also told of the limits placed on women and the expectations people had of them based on their situation.  At every turn, the reader was shown how limited a woman's options were. 

Lilli de Jong is an excellent book and I would really recommend it to anyone.  It's definitely a page turner, I couldn't believe how fast I zoomed through it!  4 stars.

About the Author:
 Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away TWO Notebooks featuring quotes from Lilli de Jong! Notebooks are spiral-bound (4×6 inches) with 50 blank pages. To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here!
 

 
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