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Friday, January 06, 2023

Green's Newest WWII Novel Uplifting and Edifying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Avis Montgomery's older brother goes off to war, he makes her promise to keep open the small, private library where he is head librarian. Avis is shocked by the charge. Not only is she a married woman (even with lots of women entering the workforce while all the men are away, it's still scandalous for a wife to labor outside the home), but she doesn't even like to read! Surely, Anthony has chosen the wrong person to replace him.

Anthony hasn't been gone long when Louise Cavendish, the steely heiress who owns the library, decides the place needs to be turned into something more useful. Desperate not to let her brother down, Avis invents a reason to keep the library open on the fly: she's started a town book club that needs to use library resources. Since she's actually done no such thing, she must pull off the impossible in a short amount of time—with Louise's narrowed eyes watching her every move. Gathering every warm body she can find, reader or not, Avis launches her tentative book club. Suddenly she is forced to start reading the novels she's always eschewed while also learning how to lead a club that is somehow becoming an essential part of her small Maine community.

The book club brings together Martina Bianchini, a single mother who works at the munitions factory to make ends meet and lives in fear of her estranged husband; Ginny Atkins, a spitfire who will do anything (including recruiting book club members) to earn the money she needs to buy back the land the Navy appropriated from her family on her beloved Long Island; Freddy Keats, a handsome one-eyed war vet with a mysterious past; and Louise, who watches the proceedings with a critical eye, determined to shut down the library despite Avis's efforts to keep it running. As the members meet regularly, what started as a wartime diversion becomes an important lifeline during a time of worry and upheaval. What will happen to the little group if Louise shuts it down? How will any of them survive the war without the one thing that's keeping them all sane?

As soon as I heard about The Blackout Book Club, Amy Lynn Green's newest offering, I knew I wanted to read it. The novel appealed on so many levels: an interesting World War II setting, bookish themes, and an author whose writing I admire. Since I really enjoyed Green's last effort (The Lines Between Us), I went into this one with high exprectations. Probably too high, because I didn't end up loving The Blackout Book Club quite as much as I wanted to. Still, I liked it overall. It's a gentle novel that is clean, uplifting, and heartwarming. That makes it sound like a cheesy inspirational read, which it's not. What it is is a good, wholesome book that's engaging and well-written. Our quartet of women narrators are all sympathetic and likable, with some being more memorable than others. My favorite is Ginny, who's got a whole lot of heart to go along with her spunky, fun-loving personality. Green's prose is warm and skilled. Plotwise, the novel gets a little slow at times, but there was enough going on to keep me reading. So, while The Blackout Book Club didn't blow my socks off, I still found it to be a pleasurable read that is touching, entertaining, and edifying. 

Note: Amy Lynn Green is a writer of Christian fiction. Although The Blackout Book Club technically falls into this genre, it's really not a religious book. There are references to church attendance, wearing a crucifix, and praying, but the mentions are brief. What I'm trying to say is, if you're not a fan of preachy religious fiction, you have no reason to worry!

(Readalikes: Reminds me of Jennifer Ryan's World War II novels, especially The Kitchen Front)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: I received a copy of The Blackout Book Club from the generous folks at Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. Glad to hear this one's an entertaining and enjoyable book, even if it didn't knock your socks off. It's one I want to read this year, too. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice review, Susan. Perfect for your bookish books challenge too!

    ReplyDelete
  3. And this counts for your reading challenge! I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like an interesting read.

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  4. The blurb of this reminded me a little bit of The Last Bookshop in London which was one of my absolute favorite reads last year. It does sounds like one I'd enjoy but I will keep my expectations on the lower side for this one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A book about books! Nice. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great review, Susan! Glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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