The Blood of Lorraine

From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Pope, Barbara Corrado
The Blood of Lorraine
It is France, 1894.  The Alfred Dreyfus trial is causing anger and unrest throughout the country.  Anti-Semitism is rampant.  A Christian baby is found mutilated.  Magistrate Bernard Martin must find the killer before the entire town riots.  When two Jews are killed, is he searching for a serial killer or two separate killers?  Are the cases linked or is a coincidence?  Martin is pressured by his superiors to quickly solve these cases.  He wants to solve them before more victims are discovered.  It is a race against time, as Martin unearths truths about himself and the racism that has been lurking below the surface in his community.  Tragedy strikes his family and brings Martin to the breaking point, as it slowly drives his wife insane.  It is an intriguing time period, with a main character that you could relate to.  The interaction between Martin and his sidekick, Inspector Jacquette, adds some comic relief to an otherwise grim historical mystery.

The Help

From Shelley Lauer-Bader
author: Stockett, Kathryn
The Help
This very readable account of the lives of the “colored” maids who took care of whites in the South around the time of the Civil Rights movement rings true. Character development is well done and while the dialect is difficult at first, it is just right for the story. While not of the caliber of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, it evokes the times and the gross inequality of the American system as it really was.

A Woman’s Place

From Ginny Pisciotta
author: Austin, Lynn
A Woman’s Place
This is the story of 4 very different women whose lives become connected  when they work together doing “men’s work” in a defense factory during World War II.  Their circumstances and backgrounds vary greatly, as do their reasons for taking the jobs.  In spite of everything, they become close friends, supporting each other through immense challenges to their lifestyles and beliefs.

Shanghai Girls

From Shelley Lauer-Bader
author: See, Lisa
Shanghai Girls
This story of Shanghai during the Japanese invasion and immigration to the US has great period detail. May and Pearl escape China in 1937 and arrive in the United States, although not without great pain and suffering. They finally connect with the men they married through an arranged marriage. The Louie family could be the story of any family immigrating to the United States with the racism, poverty, family tension.

Especially pertinent is the focus on the “paper sons;” we would call them
illegal immigrants today.

Great for a book group discussion.