Book Review | The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

umansky.jpegUmansky has crafted an intriguing novel in The Fortunate OnesChapters alternate between present day and World War II times to tell the interconnected story of a Jewish girl escaped from Austria and the New York lawyer who befriends her while going through a sort of mid-life crisis. The bond between the two women is forged over a Soutine painting that has been stolen from each of them, and holds a significant sentimental attachment for both.

“This was a really good book,” I found myself saying after finishing. Though the disagreeable protagonists are not particularly likable, their stories are fascinating. Umansky’s rich details paint their own picture. It’s clear that a good deal of thought and research went into the writing. The book kept my interest throughout, though I often would have preferred shorter chapters. This novel could be considered historical, women’s, literary, and art fiction and would appeal to readers of any of those genres. Check it out from a library near you, keeping in mind that it is a new release. I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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Film Review | Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski

ida dvd coverIda has grown up an orphan in a convent in Poland. She is known there as Anna and her only living relative, an aunt, has let on she has no interest in meeting the girl. Just before taking her vows to become a nun, Ida is forced to visit her aunt. Together the two women find a common bond in the family members they have lost. They confront the ugly Holocaust history as they search for the remains of their Jewish family.

After seeing the preview, I was expecting this movie to be really good. The entire film is in black and white and I have to admit, rather slow moving. Though the story told in the film is a touching one, the characters are not developed enough for the viewer to actually be touched by the story. I was surprised by other viewers’ positive responses to this film. On the whole there is not too much acting and the film is a bit flat. That said, I did enjoy Agata Trzebuchowska‘s performance as Ida and hope to see her in other upcoming films. This film may be better suited for those with some kind of personal connection to the subject matter. Check out Ida from a library near you.

Book Review | Moving Day : a thriller by Jonathan Stone

Featuring guest author Punit Prakash
cover moving day by jonathan stoneMoving Day connects protagonist Peke’s past to a current problem. Born Jewish in Poland, he escaped World War II and emigrated to the US. Recently retired, he and his wife packed up their New England home prior to a cross country move to Santa Barbara. When a gang posing as movers shows up at his residence a day ahead of schedule, they load all the packed boxes into their trucks and disappear with their bounty, all of Peke’s possessions. As Peke uses his wit to track down the thieves, Stone interweaves scenes from Peke’s childhood. Survival skills learned while escaping the Holocaust come in handy during this cat and mouse chase.

This was a quick paced read that kept interest levels high. The story was mostly linear and easy to follow. Some readers may feel that World War II references are overdone, but others will appreciate the historic approach. Moving Day could work well for readers with short attention spans because it is very plot driven. Critics have given an overall warm reception to the book. Check it out at a library near you.