In her new novel, CHILDREN AND FIRE, Ursula Hegi tells the story of Thekla Jansen, a teacher in the fictional German village of Burgdorf, familiar to readers of the author’s previous novels. Taking for the most part the perspective of her heroine, Hegi explores, from the inside out so to say, the emotional confusion and moral dilemmas that Germans were confronted with after the Nazis’ rise to power. The author sets the historical stage effectively, and while alluding to pivotal events, she focuses her attention on one specific day in February 1934, a day that, while starting off like any other, ends with the Burgdorf residents shocked, emotionally scarred and deeply divided…

June 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Germany, Reading Guide, World Lit


Before you even think of reading Erik Larson’s latest masterwork, clear your calendar, call in sick, send the kids to grandma’s, and place all your evening plans on hold. You will not want to come up for air until you’ve reached the last pages. It’s that good.

In his preface, Larson writes, “Once, at the dawn of a very dark time, an American father and daughter found themselves suddenly transported from their snug home in Chicago to the heart of Hitler’s Berlin. They remained there for four and a half years, but it is their first year that is the subject of the story to follow, for it coincided with Hitler’s ascent from chancellor to absolute tyrant, when everything hung in the balance and nothing was certain.”

May 19, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Germany, Non-fiction

A LESSON IN SECRETS by Jacqueline Winspear

The year is 1932 and the scars of World War I are far from healed. The specter of Nazism has begun to cast its shadow, and England has its share of “homegrown Fascists” who enthusiastically promote the aims of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Government officials are even more leery of pacifists, whose desire for peace at any price could undermine the morale of “the men in the ranks.” Against this backdrop of political and social turmoil, Maisie Dobbs keeps busy running her successful private inquiry agency, ably assisted by the conscientious Billy Beale.

April 23, 2011 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

THE CYPRESS HOUSE by Michael Koryta

In Koryta’s latest thriller – noir with a twist of the supernatural – it’s late summer 1935 and a group of hard-bitten WWI veterans and one talented 19-year-old are headed for the Florida Keys to build a highway bridge.

January 24, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Florida, Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Thriller/Spy/Caper

GOD ON THE ROCKS by Jane Gardam

And so begins the delightful 1978 novel by Jane Gardam, with an exquisitely described trip on a local train that “went slowly, see-sawing from side to side in the dusty coach with blinds with buttoned ends and a stiff leather strap arched like a tongue on the carriage door,” a pitch-perfect evocation of Britain between the Wars. What begins for Margaret Marsh is nothing less than the gradual opening of her eyes to the complexity of the adult world.

October 27, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Facing History, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author


The city of Lowell, Massachusetts, was once a thriving home to the textile industry. Just before World War I broke out, the city was at the peak of a huge economic boom. In just a couple of decades however, a slow reversal of fortunes took place. By the early 1920s work was moving south to the Carolinas and once the Depression took hold, the slide was pretty much irreversible.

Rock Harbor, the fictional New England town painted by Rebecca Chase in her new novel, feels a lot like Lowell or even New Bedford, both towns marked by severe downturns in manufacturing industries.

May 31, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Facing History, NE & New York