Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Love by the Morning Star
This book would be paired nicely with some fresh lemonade and raspberry tarts (it's just such a genial novel, it needs some genial foods).
I LOVED this book. It’s just great. Seriously. Read it. But perhaps before I launch headfirst into telling you why it’s so wonderful, you might want a little background.
Set in the late 1930’s during the second World War, the novel follows Hanna Morganstern, a half-Jewish girl who has to pack up and move away from her beloved cabaret in Germany to stay with distant relations, Lord and Lady Liripip. Hanna expects a certain degree of hostility from her unfamiliar family members, but she does not expect the treatment she is faced with when she arrives. She is unceremoniously directed below stairs and informed that she will be working as a kitchen hand.
Meanwhile, Anna Morgan enters stage left, a prideful, self-centered Aryan working for the Nazi party under the heavy-handed command of her father. She is supposed to be working as a maid so she can spy on the family, but instead is invited to stay in the upstairs chambers and is treated as a welcome guest. She says nothing about the obvious mix-up, reassuring herself that she deserves this life of luxury she has accidentally stepped into. Lord and Lady Liripip are very accommodating; after all, she is family… right?
Hannah and Anna are all mixed up, but neither is willing to run to Lady Liripip and tattle, for their own reasons. When the youngest Liripip, otherwise known as Teddy, enters the picture, the girls both fall a little in love. But no one really knows who is who, and inevitably some unforeseen snags occur.
This tale of love is entertainingly sweet and whimsical, and I invite you to watch the story unfold as you laugh and gasp along with the characters. I felt like I was watching a fast-paced, witty cabaret skit, where each of the characters peeped in through the wrong door at the exact right second. Yes, it’s a little hard to explain. Suffice to say, it was really quite fun. Not often to I laugh out loud to the lines in a book, but in this case I couldn’t resist as I was regaled with the whimsical romanticisms and sharp verbal barbs of the characters.
Even though this is a romance, Anna is not a mooning maiden. She is sharply clever, and has a way with words that is endearing, if over-abundant. Even when felt obliged to throw herself onto her bed and sob over her ill-luck, she was never pitiful, and presently someone would toss a witticism her way to lighten the mood. she does not wallow in desperation, like so many other wide-eyed protagonists.
The atmosphere of the novel is sweet and light, but in such a way that one begins to comprehend the most weighty and frightening realities of WWII. There are two levels to this book, I think; on the surface, it is a spectacle of light and comedy, but underneath there is an earnest profundity to the story. Just like Anna’s father and his shows, the plot seems strictly entertaining on the surface, but holds deeper meaning if observed carefully.
My one warning would be that the novel is written in a very specific style of writing. I love it, but not everyone will (It’s pretty simple, if you like it, you like it, but if you don’t, you don’t). I hope you pick it up even if you don’t feel like taking a chance and give it a read, because if you don’t like the writing style, I promise you’ll know pretty quickly off the bat. It won’t be a waste of time.
Ok, so basically you MUST read this book!
Drum roll please… 5 stars!