Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig AlbertLoving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

There are some public figures that I have admired all my life and Eleanor Roosevelt is one of them.  It doesn’t matter that she had already past a year before I was born.  I admire her for all that she did for the U.S. and especially did to progress women’s rights!

‘Loving Eleanor’ is a fictionalized account of Eleanor Roosevelt and the female reporter, Lorena Hickok (nick name: Hick)  assigned to  cover her during FDR’s run for the presidency.   Yes, it covers the affair the two females had with each other and their love letters but in a tasteful way.  It also showed how much Eleanor grew into her role as first lady, a role that she did not want but finally embraced.

Lorena Hickok, one of few female reporters of the time, was assigned to cover the 1928 election. She primarily covered Eleanor Roosevelt and they grew a fast rapport and friendship that became romantic, for a time.  Hick is the narrator and seems to want to make sure people know about their relationship and the love she had for Eleanor.

There are a lot of details about the Great Depression and the era of FDR’s presidency.   It also talked about FDR’s love interests.  Yes, they both had affairs, plural.  However, his were mostly accepted while Eleanor’s were not.  That double standard is still alive today.

In the pages, we also get to know Hick, who I had heard of but didn’t know much about her other than she was a female reporter.  The book is writing like an autobiography by Hick and I really enjoyed getting to know her and researching what was true and what was fiction.  From my research, it looks like Susan Wittig Albert stuck mostly with the facts and filled in the back story to make it entertaining.

The book dragged in a couple places for me but overall I really enjoyed it and it compelled me to find out more.  I was thrilled to see some further reading recommendations at the end and the author note also talked about what was fact and what was fiction. I always look for an author’s note at the end of historical fiction.  It make a historical fiction novel more credible to me.  I highly recommend ‘Loving Eleanor’ to historical fiction lovers!


I received the ebook version for my honest review.

About Susan Wittig AlbertLoving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter,Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.

Marceline Loridan-IvensDescription of But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

“You might come back, because you’re young, but I will not come back.”—Marceline Loridan’s father to her, 1944

A runaway bestseller in France, But You Did Not Come Back has already been the subject of a French media storm and hailed as an important new addition to the library of books dealing with the Holocaust. It is the profoundly moving and poetic memoir by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, who at the age of fifteen was arrested in occupied France, along with her father. Later, in the camps, he managed to smuggle a note to her, a sign of life that made all the difference to Marceline—but he died in the Holocaust, while Marceline survived.
 In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes back to her father, the man whose death overshadowed her whole life. Although her grief never diminished in its intensity, Marceline ultimately found her calling, working as both an activist and a documentary filmmaker. But now, as France and Europe in general faces growing anti-Semitism, Marceline feels pessimistic about the future.

Her testimony is a memorial, a confrontation, and a deeply affecting personal story of a woman whose life was shattered and never totally rebuilt.

My Thoughts On But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

I have read many fictional, non-fiction, and memoirs about the Holocaust.  I just can’t seem to get enough of the subject.  I think it is a deer in the headlights kind of thing, I keep wondering how humanity can let this happen.  Yet, similar things keep happening to this day.  How is shooting or bombing mass amounts of people, much different than making them work in forced labor and then gassing them to death so different?  I personally don’t think it is.  They are all evil.

In ‘But You Did Not Come Back’, 15 year old Marceline Loridan-Ivens is taken with her father from France to the camps during WWII and the Holocaust.  They are in neighboring camps and her father manages to get a note to her which lifts her spirits.  She is relieved to know he is still alive.  However, by the time she is rescued, she finds out he did not make it. 

When she returns to France she is reunited with her mother and other family members who were able to hide when her father and herself were taken.  They can’t possibly understand what she went though and it was hard for her to relate to them the same way as before.  It is hard for her to just go on as if nothing had ever happened.  However, she does find a way to move on.

Marceline Loridan-Ivens writes a poetic almost meditative account of her experience during the Holocaust.  It is deeply moving and had me in tears, in parts.  However, She is a survivor and an inspiration to us all!  She has gone on to work as an actress, a screenwriter, and a director. 


I received the ebook version via Net Galley for my honest review.

About Marceline Loridan-Ivens

Marceline Loridan-Ivens was born in 1928. She has worked as an actress, a screenwriter, and a director. She directed “The Birch-Tree Meadow” in 2003, starring Anouk Aimee, as well as several documentaries with Joris Ivens.

About Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith is the translator of “Suite Francaise” and eleven other novels by Irene Nemirovsky, as well as a new translation of Camus s “L Etranger.” She has been awarded the French-American Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize and the PEN Translation Prize. She lives in New York.”



Virginia PyeThanks to Caitlin Hamilton Summie of Unbridled Books, I am giving away one print copy of Dreams Of the Red Phoenix by Virginia Pye.

Description of Dreams Of the Red Phoenix by Virginia Pye:

During the dangerous summer of 1937, a newly widowed American missionary finds herself and her teenage son caught up in the midst of a Japanese invasion of North China and the simultaneous rise of Communism. Meanwhile a charismatic Red Army officer requests her help and seems to have shared some surprising secret about her husband.

Shirley must manage her grief even as she navigates between her desire to help the idealistic Chinese Reds fight the Japanese by serving as a nurse and the need to save both herself and her son by escaping the war-ravaged country before it’s too late.

Taking her own grandmother’s life as inspiration, Virginia Pye, author of the critically-acclaimed debut novel River of Dust, has written a stunning new novel of Americans in China on the cusp of World War II.

My Thoughts on Dreams Of the Red Phoenix by Virginia Pye:

In 1937 Shirley, an American woman is left in North China with her Teen-aged son, Charles when her Reverend husband dies in an accident.  She mourns for a very long time.  However, one day a bunch of Chinese end up on her door step trying to escape certain death from the Japanese invaders.  Many are injured and since Shirley use to be a nurse, she sets up a hospital in her house.  

Meanwhile the head Reverend is making plans for all of the Americans in the complex to go back to the U.S. soon.  They are not part of the war but they also know that they won’t be safe for much longer in China.

While Shirley tends to the wounded, her son, Charles is left to his own devises.  As happens with most teenagers, he gets into mischief.  A very dangerous situation with the Japanese presence.    However, he also does a lot of growing up which, Shirley doesn’t even notice until much later.

Do the Americans get out of North China in time?  What happens to Shirley and Charles?  You will have to read the book to find out.

While reading the book my admiration for Shirley really grows.  She ends up being a strong female who makes her own decisions and rescues many people from death were their wounds to go untreated.  However, I also get really mad at her for practically abandoning her son.  Just because they live in the same house doesn’t mean that she is being a mother to him which, he desperately needed.

I have to confess that it took me until the fourth chapter to really get into this book. However, once I got to chapter four, I found it almost impossible to put the book down! The drama and plot builds and builds while the main characters are well drawn out.  I think Virginia Pye captures the place and time beautifully.  So much so that I felt like I was transported to 1937 North China.

I highly recommend Dreams Of the Red Phoenix!


I received this book for my honest review.

Praise for Dreams Of the Red Phoenix by Virginia Pye:

“A missionary family is trapped by the invading Imperial Japanese Army in the “hard and disastrous land” that’s northern China, 1937 . . . . Shirley becomes further entangled with the revolutionaries until she’s forced to make a not-quite Sophie’s Choice but one that leaves her morally bereft . . . . There’s a comparison to Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, but this unflinching look at a brutal era in a faraway place shares truth in its own way.”-Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping, convincing, and heartbreaking, Dreams of the Red Phoenix is powerfully evocative of the complexities of life in 1930’s China.  A real page-turner and thought-provoker — wonderful.”-Gish Jen

About Virginia Pye:Virginia Pye

Virginia Pye’s essays can be found in The New York Times Opinionator blog, The Rumpus, Brain, Child, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, River of Dust, was an Indie Next Pick and a Virginia Literary Awards Finalist in Fiction. Carolyn See in The Washington Post called it “intricate and fascinating;” Annie Dillard said it’s “a strong, beautiful, deep book;” Robert Olen Butler named it “a major work by a splendid writer;” and Caroline Leavitt described it as “a gemstone of a novel…a masterpiece.” Virginia has published award-winning short stories in literary magazines, including The North American Review, The Tampa Review, and The Baltimore Review. Her short e-book Her Mother’s Garden was published by SheBooks in January, 2014.

She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and has taught writing at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. Virginia currently divides her time between Richmond and Cambridge, MA. Her new novel, Dreams of the Red Phoenix, inspired by her grandmother, is due out in October 2015 from Unbridled Books.

Giveaway of Dreams Of the Red Phoenix by Virginia Pye:

Hurry, this giveaway ends at midnight, October 28th!  You can enter here: http://theteddyrosebookreviewsplusmore.com/2015/10/giveaway-dreams-of-the-red-phoenix-by-virginia-pye.html#.Vi3QprerS70