(Review) A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

Publisher and Publication Date: Knopf. 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War I.
Pages: 214.
Source: eBook copy from the library.
Audience: Readers of American history, World War I, and post war years.
Rating: Very good.

I love the ability to borrow eBooks from the library. It’s one of the most convenient things in my life. The two apps for borrowing the eBooks are Libby (by OverDrive) and OverDrive. Libby is the more user-friendly of the two.

Link from the National Archives on this history.

The Gold Star Mother’s Association lobbied during the 1920s for a pilgrimage trip to the grave sites of fallen Veterans during World War I. Widows and mothers were able to visit the grave site of their loved one. The cost of the trip was paid for the United States government.
Cora Blake’s only child died in France a month before the Armistice. Cora lives in Deer Isle, Maine. She takes care of her nieces and brother-in-law. She works at the library and fish cannery.

My Thoughts: 

What I liked about A Star for Mrs. Blake:
•I was drawn to the story because it’s history I’ve not heard about. I love women’s stories that tell me something I didn’t know, and in a way that gives clarity about the era in which they lived.
•The main character is Cora Blake. She is an exceptional woman. She is strong and resilient. She takes the initiative to be a friend to people outside her society and culture’s comfort zone. She has the confidence to step out and be a friend to a stranger in need. This is a quality I admire: people who are caring and they take the initiative to act.
•The story slowly reveals a mystery surrounding Cora’s circumstances.
•Other female characters have secondary stories. These women are from different areas of America and France. They are from different economic backgrounds. They have different Christian denominational beliefs or no belief at all. They have different personalities. They are reflective of women living during the 1920s. This gave me a wide lens view of women in this era.
•A Star for Mrs. Blake showed me something I just realized after turning 50. There are different types of love and different levels of love. Now, I’m going to be more descriptive. Men and women really can be friends with no sex. Men and women can love each other with no sex. Of course if the two of them are sexually attracted to one another this makes things difficult. We hear stories about women who love their female friends, but what about men and women who are best friends? One of the greatest joys in my life is  friendship with men. In A Star for Mrs. Blake, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see this type of relationship and love!
•Grieving is a strong element in the story. No one person grieves the same, because we are all unique and individual people. This is such a bonus feature in the book. To see the differences in grieving and how it is displayed. Grieving is laborious. It’s intensive. There is no time limit. And, it is not like getting over the flu. We will always miss that loved one, but we come to a point when we must continue life without them.

What I disliked about A Star for Mrs. Blake:
•I didn’t like the ending. I feel Cora Blake settled. However, Cora’s choice may have been a response to continuing on in life.

Amazon link


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