Switching gears for a while....

A Reader's Respite has been reviewing far too many novels with the word "Queen" in the title lately. No wonder they all get their heads chopped off...too many queens can drive a person batty.

Even we were getting a little tired of it.

So we thought we'd switch continents (and eras) for a day and introduce you to a new novel by Paula Phelan, entitled 1939: Into the Dark.

1939 is the uniquely written story of one full year, January through December, of the American experience on the eve of our entrance into World War II. The Great Depression still loomed large in the memories of most Americans and yet the foreshadows of what was to come, not only the war but a shift in the political culture as ominous new policies, such as the House Committee on Un-American Activities, are lurking behind every corner.

Told from several points of view, all artists, playwrights, and musicians living in New York, the novel also features brilliant little cameo appearances from a myriad of famous Americans of the time, from Dorothy Parker to Clark Gable.

ah, Dorothy, how we love thee...

A Reader's Respite loved the time period, the artists and cameos, and even the presentation of the novel which, every few pages, is interspersed with reproductions of critical theater and movie reviews of the time and news dispatches from the war going on in Europe.

If we had any complaint at all, it was the sheer volume of characters presented in the novel (thank goodness for the list of characters provided!). While each character had a compelling story to tell, one or two could have been excised, allowing the author more room to further flesh out the remaining characters.

But this small flaw is easily overlooked when considering the unique time frame and the excellent history presented in this novel.

It's worth noting, as well, that author Paula Phelan is also a recipient of the Writer's Guild Persie Award for her short stories.


  1. I'm often suspicious of books with character lists simply because I worry that they might end up having more characters than they can handle. I always find myself preferring books with small, perfectly developed casts than books with tons of people running around and names tossed back and forth...

  2. Wow! That's something unique! I have never read that time frame much :)

  3. This sounds fascinating! I think my mom would like it too.

  4. I'm always worried when there are too many characters too. My memory just stinks and I find myself flipping through trying to reemeber who was who and who was doing what.

  5. I like the mix of fictional characters and historical characters; sounds like a winner (as long as it has a list of characters!)

  6. I think the cover is cool. I'm sure my aunt Lee would not only love it but share stories of "back in the day" of her mom & aunt's time.

  7. This sounds cool & love your picture of Dot.

  8. I think I'd like this one. Good thing there's a character list. Do you think it should count for the WWII challenge?

    Diary of an Eccentric


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