Book Reviews

Books to enjoy before spring chores arrive

By Lynda Rego
Posted 2/28/24

Lots of reading going on before spring cleaning and gardening take up all my time. Enjoy …

“The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett” by Annie Lyons (2020). A quarter of the way …

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Book Reviews

Books to enjoy before spring chores arrive


Lots of reading going on before spring cleaning and gardening take up all my time. Enjoy …

“The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett” by Annie Lyons (2020). A quarter of the way in, I decided it was a female version of “A Man Called Ove,” but this novel delves much more deeply into death – how we ignore it, refuse to talk about it, fear it, deal with it and finally face it. Eudora, 85, has decided the world has become a loud, unkind, impatient place. She’s had enough and wants “My death. My way,” which leads her to contact an organization in Switzerland that helps you achieve that.

But, then the Trewidneys move in next door. Daughter Rose, 10, is soon barging into Eudora’s life and turning it upside-down, even causing Eudora’s cat to become more friendly toward her. Rose is a colorfully dressed, cheerful force of nature who helps Eudora find the peace that’s been eluding her. Soon, another neighbor, Stanley, a widower, becomes part of this trio of friends.

Interspersed with this story are chapters on Eudora’s past life dating back to World War II and the relationship she had with her younger sister and mother. Eudora has an independent streak left over from the way she grew up and doesn’t find it easy to ask for or receive help. Rose deals with life frankly and finds death fascinating and breaches Eudora’s fences. And, Stanley takes Eudora to his family parties, dragging her back among the living and reminding her there is still kindness in life. But, can they change her mind and keep her from traveling to Switzerland? The author believes “we at least need to have conversations about a human being’s right to a good death.” This book is one of those conversations, told with humor and wit, love and friendship, and unflinching truth.

“The Marlowe Murder Club” by Robert Thorogood (2021) is clever and funny, zips along at a fast pace and builds to such a suspenseful climax that I finished it in one day. Judith Potts, 77, lives alone in a large, riverfront house in Marlowe that she inherited from her great-aunt. She loves her independence, creates cryptic crosswords for newspapers and swims naked each evening in the Thames. One hot, sultry evening while swimming, she hears a cry and then a gunshot from her neighbor’s across the way. But, the police don’t find anything and dismiss her account. Well, she’s not having any of that. Judith will insert herself into the case and involve two more local women in her sleuthing — Suzie, one of the victim’s dogwalker, and Becks, the vicar’s wife.

It’s as much about the growing friendship between the trio as it is the crimes. Judith says women of their age are invisible, so they can use that to their advantage. The police officer in charge, Det. Sgt. Tanika Malik, is resistant at first, but sees the value Judith brings to the case. And, Judith has a secret of her own.

This is the first book in a series of three and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Judith and friends. She’s upbeat, loves her whiskey and doesn’t care about housekeeping. Thorogood created “Death in Paradise” for the BBC, and “The Marlow Murder Club” also has been turned into a PBS series due to air this year in four parts.

“The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany” by Gwen Strauss (2021). There are so many great books about World War II in all its complexity. I’ve read books on female Soviet pilots, teen Dutch resistance and various books detailing life during the war in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, England and France.

“The Nine” is a fitting addition and looks at another strand of the rope that strangled Europe and Great Britain during the war. It’s about nine brave young women who joined the French resistance, served in and around Paris, and then had the misfortune to be caught by the Nazis just before the Allies freed the city. After being questioned and tortured (including waterboarding in some cases), they were shipped off to death camps inAugust 1944. At this point, the Nazis were withdrawing and taking everything they could lay their hands on with them and shipping all prisoners back into Germany. The nine all end up at Ravensbruck, a women’s concentration camp in Northern Germany that held mostly political prisoners (they wore green triangles).

It’s a horrific tale about hate, cruelty, death and despair, but it’s also about love, kindness and bravery. They survived because they stuck together, escaped together, refused to give up on each other, and never lost their sense of humanity. The author is the great-niece of one of the nine (six Frenchwomen, two Dutch and one Spanish). She traced the incredible route of their escape and trek to reach American lines. She interviewed some of the nine and their family members, did extensive research in archives, and used letters and writings by the nine women. She brings each alive for the reader and it’s a fitting tribute to their sacrifice.

And, I loved that this is another book highlighting the service of women. When the war ended, women were returned to their previous roles and men were celebrated as the victors in most cases (particularly in France). But, we now know the Monument “Men,” who returned artwork stolen by the Nazis to their original owners included 27 women. And, that women were involved in every facet of resistance and espionage work.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email