Several months ago I took advantage of one of those DNA ancestry offers. The results rather surprised me. I am Eastern European with a sliver of Scandinavian, and a real mixed bag of other elements.
Growing up in Arkansas and Kansas, my family always implied we were part Cherokee. While it does not show-up in my genetic makeup, it could be present in a sibling.
Readers who have never researched genealogy should check with their local library’s resources. It can be very humbling and inspiring. Like me, it might encourage new reads on the bookshelf, too. Although only a miniscule part Nordic, I’ve found myself engulfed in the region’s history, as is showcased this month with my nonfiction selection.
“A Piece of the World”
By Cristina Baker Kline
A few years ago, I read Kline’s “Orphan Train” and could not put it down. When I saw her latest book on the shelves, I knew it was an essential read. Historical fiction brings a breath of life into an area of interest. Moreover, when I now look at Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, I see a completely new story.
Kline invites the reader into Christina’s world in Cushing, Maine, where she lives in the family home. The home has sheltered generations of Hawthorne’s family, who fled from Salem for sanctuary after the witch trials. Christina is born with a crippling malady, which worsens as she ages. Her story is one of many that Andrew Wyeth exposed with his art. Enjoy a glimpse into her life and struggles. It is a magnificent read.
“Assault in Norway”
By Thomas Gallagher
My tiny spark of Scandinavian ancestry had me combing the library for a good read—and this book piqued my interest. On June 17, 1942, almost two years prior to the day of the Normandy invasion, Winston Churchill flew to Hyde Park to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt. They would finalize plans for an allied invasion over the next year. The greatest point of conversation was the atomic bomb. The big question was how advanced had Germany come to developing one. In Norway, a key ingredient for the bomb was “heavy water,” manufactured at a plant at Vemork—occupied by the Germans since 1940.
This is the story of a secret mission to retake the critical plant. The time was October 1942, and the purpose was to “destroy the critical supplies and cripple key production facilities.” The mission began with four Norwegians. This is their fascinating story.
“Some Luck” by Jane Smiley is the first book in “The Last Hundred Years Trilogy: A Family Saga.” Rosanna and Walter Langdon live on a farm in Denby, Iowa. For the next 30 years, we will see the family grow with children, grandchildren, and the birth of electricity and automobiles. With the onset of WWI, their oldest will serve as a sniper in France, and several of their children will attend college.
This is the story of a progressive family that does not fear moving away from the farm to grow into strong individuals with their own values and traditions. Moreover, in keeping with family values the Langdon children will always return to their roots. Enjoy the other two parts of the trilogy: “Early Warning” and “Golden Age.”
Featured Author of the Month
I seem to be drawn to unconventional characters who step out of their comfort zones to create novelty. Tessa Harris’ writing style immediately drew me to the Dr. Silkstone mystery books. It also allowed me to continue with my “series addiction” I mentioned last month.
In the “The Anatomist’s Apprentice,” we meet Dr. Thomas Silkstone. The good doctor hails from Pennsylvania, but lives in England where he continues to hone his surgical skills and learning. He is called to examine the dead brother of the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. Lydia believes there is possible foul play and needs the voice of a non-local to help clarify the facts.
The story is brisk, with foul play and a love triangle. Moreover, there is an unexpected twist that challenges Dr. Silkstone personally and professionally. The series continues with several more volumes, and I find myself binge-reading them. I hope you enjoy them as well. LOL
Janet Oliver is a retired librarian for NHC Public Library. Follow her on Twitter: @LovelyThingsNC