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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

A Star for Mrs. Blake


A Star for Mrs. Blake Cover

ISBN13: 9780307958846
ISBN10: 0307958841
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

The introduction, author biography, discussion questions, and suggested reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of A Star for Mrs. Blake, April Smith’s touching and thought-provoking new novel, which Fannie Flagg promises “you will never forget.”  

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The Lost Entwife, February 5, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I was fascinated by the summary of A Star for Mrs. Blake after the cover initially caught my eye. I had never heard of any sort of program that sent the mothers and wives of fallen soldiers overseas to visit graves and the very thought of it touched me. April Smith took on this small portion of our history and really fleshed it out, making the resulting story one that came off as realistic and somewhat interesting. However, in the interest of creating story suspension and drama, there were a few things about the book that rubbed me the wrong way.

First, what was done right. I loved that Smith veered away from making people or the government as blameless heroes in this story. Everyone makes mistakes and that is definitely the case in A Star for Mrs. Blake. From the wrong woman (was it the wrong woman?) being on the tour, to the uncomfortable nature of segregation, and finally the horrors of actual warfare, nothing is left untouched. The women that form Party A are interesting with fascinating back stories and wide diversity and I loved that the book embraced all of the different cultures and stories.

What I struggled with were attempts at romantic tension and confusing back stories for some of the women. It's hard to juggle that many stories and it really came off as a struggle to me throughout the book. The only stories I felt I had any sort of grip on were Cora's and Bobbie's. There were things that made no sense about Wilhelmina (and the ending left me thoroughly confused) and I never understood what exactly made Katie so angry all the time. While Smith did a great job of portraying the different styles of grief that each of the women felt, their stories were not portrayed as clearly.

I think if you are a fan of Jamie Ford or Kate Morton, this would be a book that might interest you. While there were some shortcomings (and, as a result, made the book a slow read for me) I can definitely see A Star for Mrs. Blake as being a book that would interest quite a few of my friends and family. Give it a shot - if nothing else, it'll provide a glance into some history that has sat quietly in the background until now.
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Product Details

Smith, April
Knopf Publishing Group
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
9.52 x 6.55 x 1.32 in 1.34 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

A Star for Mrs. Blake Used Hardcover
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307958846 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Smith's sixth novel, a departure from her Ana Grey thrillers, presents the touching story, set in the 1930s, of Gold Star Mothers — the mothers of fallen U.S. service members — visiting their sons' graves in France. Cora Blake lives in Maine, where she is raising her three nieces after her sister's death. Struggling from day to day to survive the Depression, Cora learns of a chance, courtesy of the U.S. government, to see the last resting place of her son, killed in WWII. She ends up being the glue that holds together 'Party A,' which includes, along with their escorts Second Lt. Thomas Hammond and nurse Lily Barnett, a Boston socialite, an Irish maid, and, temporarily, an African-American woman. The trip's organizers soon correct this 'mistake,' but the woman's white replacement proves mentally unstable. During the trip, Cora meets down-on-his luck reporter Griffin Reed, who was badly disfigured while covering the war, and whose investigative skills bring her a gift beyond her hopes. Smith captures the mothers' interactions in beautiful detail and delves into the government's not-entirely-altruistic reasons for sponsoring the trip. Several plot threads, however, are unresolved, leaving the reader wanting more at the end of this captivating read. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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