A Star for Mrs. Blake

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April Smith had the great good fortune to be provided access to a diary, kept by a young army officer in 1931, while he accompanied the first group of bereft mothers to France, to visit the battlefields and cemeteries where their sons had fought and died in the Great War. The journey was an expensive, government-sponsored activity in the hard-scrabble midst of the Depression.

Group A was assembled from New England. Cora is a librarian from an island off the coast of Maine. Minnie is an Orthodox Jewish chicken farmer from Bangor. Katie is a housemaid in Boston. Wilhelmina has spent her adult years in and out of mental institutions. Bobbie is a railroad heiress. They startle and sometimes inspire each other as the journey progresses.

Smith has taken an unembellished account of an odd event and given it color and irrepressible life. It took her a number of years to flesh out the story and bring her characters to life and she has done a remarkable job of illuminating how deeply these pilgrimages affected and soothed the grieving mothers. This is a book to be read slowly, carefully, luxuriantly and then to reflect what a difference might be made by a mothers’ pilgrimage, well-documented, to areas of current strife.


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Author April Smith
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2014-Jan-14
ISBN 9780307958846
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2014
Category Modern Literature
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