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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TLC Book Tours: A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

Title: A Star for Mrs. Blake
Author: April Smith
Format: ARC
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: January 14, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours

Why Are You Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "An emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel set in the 1930s about five American women-Gold Star Mothers-who travel to France to visit the graves of their World War I soldier sons: a pilgrimage that will change their lives in unforeseeable and indelible ways.

The women meet for the first time just before their journey begins: Katie, an Irish maid from Dorchester, Massachusetts; Minnie, wife of an immigrant Russian Jewish chicken farmer; Bobbie, a wealthy Boston socialite; Wilhelmina, a former tennis star in precarious mental health; and Cora Blake, a single mother and librarian from coastal Maine. In Paris, Cora meets a journalist whose drug habit helps him hide from his own wartime fate-facial wounds so grievous he's forced to wear a metal mask. This man will change Cora's life in wholly unexpected ways. And when the women finally travel to Verdun to visit the battlegrounds where their sons fought as well as the cemeteries where they are buried, shocking events-a death, a scandal, a secret revealed-will guarantee that Cora's life and those of her traveling companions will become inextricably intertwined. Only now will they be able to emerge from their grief and return home to their loved ones. This is a timeless story set against a footnote of history: little known but unforgettable."

My Two Cents:

"A Star for Mrs. Blake" covers a historical tale that I have never heard about before (and you all know how I love learning something new from everything that I read). After WWI, families of many American military members were given the choice to bury their fallen family members in France or to bring the bodies back to the States. For those that chose to have their loved ones buried in France, pilgrimages to Europe were organized by the Army for mothers who lost children during the war. This book is a fictional look at these groups of women and centers on one Gold Star mother named Cora.

I really liked following Cora's story. She lives a fairly quiet existence as a librarian in a small Maine town and going to France is a huge adventure for her. She meets the other women that she will be traveling with and gets to know them well. They come from all different walks of life but they are connected by their lost children. Even though Cora is really the main character, all of the secondary characters were also very memorable for me as well.

The historical description in the book was really good. The author added lots of small details that made the characters, settings, and situations feel really real to me. Historical fiction lovers will really enjoy all of these details. 

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Sunday, January 12th:  Writer Unboxed  author guest post
Monday, January 13th:  BookNAround
Tuesday, January 14th:  A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, January 15th:  Cici’s Theories
Thursday, January 16th:  Bookchickdi
Monday, January 20th:  Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, January 21st:  Drey’s Library
Wednesday, January 22nd:  Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, January 27th:  Book Snob
Monday, February 3rd:  Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, February 4th:  The Lost Entwife
Wednesday, February 5th:  Books and Movies
Tuesday, February 11th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Wednesday, February 12th:  Library of Clean Reads
Monday, February 17th:  Reading Lark



  1. This one seemed a little too sad for me -- but I think my mother would love it. Will add it to the gift list for her.

    1. The subject matter is sad but I didn't feel like the story itself was overly sad!

  2. The premise is so interesting -- and definitely tackles a subject about which I know nothing, which is great. I also love to learn a little something while I'm reading, and I adore WWI-era France. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

    1. This book definitely made me want to read more WWI fiction. I read a lot of WWII fiction but seemingly not a lot of WWI fiction!

  3. I can't wait to start this one for the tour. It sounds fantastic and also very sad. I, too, love how much one can learn from historical fiction.

    1. I love learning a little something while reading a great story!

  4. I didn't realize that there were groups officially organized to travel to Europe together - it must have been a tremendously difficult trip, but I'd have taken comfort from those other people traveling with me.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. Yes, I think there's always a lot of comfort in being surrounded by others who have gone through similar things.


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