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Archive for April 12th, 2016

Gone to Soldiers

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Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy

(Excerpt from Goodreads) In a stunning tour-de-force, Marge Piercy has woven a tapestry of World War II, of six women and four men, who fought and died, worked and worried, and moved through the dizzying days of the war. A compelling chronicle of humans in conflict with inhuman events, GONE TO SOLIDERS is an unforgettable reading experience and a stirring tribute to the remarkable survival of the human spirit.

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a Hopwood Award for Poetry and Fiction (1957) enabled her to finish college and spend some time in France, and her formal schooling ended with an M.A. from Northwestern University. Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968.

An indifferent student in her early years, Piercy developed a love of books when she came down with rheumatic fever in her mid-childhood and could do little but read. “It taught me that there’s a different world there, that there were all these horizons that were quite different from what I could see,” she said in a 1984 interview.

As of 2013, she is author of seventeen volumes of poems, among them The Moon is Always Female (1980, considered a feminist classic) and The Art of Blessing the Day (1999), as well as fifteen novels, one play (The Last White Class, co-authored with her third and current husband Ira Wood), one collection of essays (Parti-colored Blocks for a Quilt), one non-fiction book, and one memoir.

Her novels and poetry often focus on feminist or social concerns, although her settings vary. While Body of Glass (published in the US as He, She and It) is a science fiction novel that won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, City of Darkness, City of Light is set during the French Revolution. Other of her novels, such as Summer People and The Longings of Women are set during the modern day. All of her books share a focus on women’s lives.

Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. This novel is considered a classic of utopian “speculative” science fiction as well as a feminist classic. William Gibson has credited Woman on the Edge of Time as the birthplace of Cyberpunk. Piercy tells this in an introduction to Body of Glass. Body of Glass (He, She and It) (1991) postulates an environmentally ruined world dominated by sprawling mega-cities and a futuristic version of the Internet, through which Piercy weaves elements of Jewish mysticism and the legend of the Golem, although a key story element is the main character’s attempts to regain custody of her young son.

Many of Piercy’s novels tell their stories from the viewpoints of multiple characters, often including a first-person voice among numerous third-person narratives. Her World War II historical novel, Gone To Soldiers (1987) follows the lives of nine major characters in the United States, Europe and Asia. The first-person account in Gone To Soldiers is the diary of French teenager Jacqueline Levy-Monot, who is also followed in a third-person account after her capture by the Nazis.

Piercy’s poetry tends to be highly personal free verse and often addresses the same concern with feminist and social issues. Her work shows commitment to the dream of social change (what she might call, in Judaic terms, tikkun olam, or the repair of the world), rooted in story, the wheel of the Jewish year, and a range of landscapes and settings.

She lives in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her husband, Ira Wood.

Book

My Review

5 stars

This is an epic story about ten people during World War II. But these are not the normal stories that I have come to expect from books written about WWII. This book talks about women going against the social norm to be pilots. The rationing of chocolate, sugar, and gas. Even about women working the assembly line and the grief they went through. I loved this book because it is about the untold aspect of WWII. When I find books about the war, usually they are about the soldiers and the Jews. This book shows there was so much more happening at this time.

When I say epic story, the book is almost 800 pages long. But to do any justice to the characters and their stories you need a book this long. Gone to Soldiers is rich with history. You can just tell the amount of time that went into research as you read. Marge Piercy is also a wonderful writer. She is very eloquent and makes you feel like you are right there in history as you read.

This is an amazing story. It is a bit of a read but it is one I recommend for those that like reading about World War II and those that don’t know much of what really happened. This will open your eyes to what happened during the war.

To purchase Gone to Soldiers make sure to visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Marge Piercy’s website.

I received Gone to Soldiers for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Along with Gone to Soldiers, I received two other books by Marge Piercy. Here are my reviews for those books.

City of Darkness, City of Light

(Excerpt from Goodreads) In her most splendid, thought-provoking novel yet, Marge Piercy brings to vibrant life three women who play prominent roles in the tumultuous, bloody French Revolution–as well as their more famous male counterparts.

Defiantly independent Claire Lacombe tests her theory: if men can make things happen, perhaps women can too. . . . Manon Philipon finds she has a talent for politics–albeit as the ghostwriter of her husband’s speeches. . . . And Pauline Léon knows one thing for certain: the women must apply the pressure or their male colleagues will let them starve. While illuminating the lives of Robespierre, Danton, and Condorcet, Piercy also opens to us the minds and hearts of women who change their world, live their ideals–and are prepared to die for them.

Book

My Review

4 stars

This story takes place during the French Revolution but focuses on women during this time. We follow an actress, and aristocrat’s wife and a chocolate shop owner among others. We follow along as each is affected by the Revolution and how each finds their own ways to change its outcome.

I love how we have a variety of people from different social standings. You have a shop owner fighting day to day and an aristocrat’s wife writing his speeches. This book gives the untold stories that you don’t hear about.

I admit that I don’t know much about the French Revolution. But after reading this story I am interested in researching what happened. As you read you can tell that Marge Pierce has done a lot of research because the story is rich with details.

The only thing that I have as a negative is that the book was slow to start. But I do understand since we started before the revolution and they don’t just start in the middle of all the action.

If you like the French Revolution and would like to find out more about the female aspect in it, this book would be great for you. But if you are like me this book may inspire you to look for more information.

To purchase City of Darkness, City of Light make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

I received City of Darkness, City of Light for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Small Changes by Marge Piercy

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Small Changes is the explosive novel of women struggling to make their places in a man’s world. Set against the early days of the feminist movement, it tells of two women and the choices they must make.

Intelligent, sensual Miriam Berg trades her doctorate for marriage and security, only to find herself hungry for a life of her own but terrified of losing her husband Shy, frightened Beth runs away from the very life Miriam seeks to a new world of different ideas, and a different kind of love–the love of another woman…

Book

My Review

4 stars

This story is about two women Beth and Miriam. Beth is marring her boyfriend from high school. He expects her to be the standard stay at home mother while he watches her maintain the house. But Beth has other dreams and she ends up running away to find herself. We also follow Miriam is a graduate from MIT and bounces around in her relationships. She is against the traditional opinion of marriage and makes her way. This story follows their different paths in life.

This story is based in the 70’s when women were starting to reach out from their normal place of the house. I really like following along as Beth and Miriam are stretching and stepping out into the non-traditional roles that they were expected to be in. It was fascinating to follow along both of them as they find themselves in such different paths from where they started.

I think this is a good book that shows a little of how women were changing roles in the 70’s. I think it’s a great story of no settling for a life of what everyone else expects you to live when you are not happy with it.

To purchase Small Changes make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

I received Small Changes for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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