Thursday, October 13, 2011
Review & Giveaway: The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2011 by Berkley Trade
ISBN: 0425243052 (ISBN13: 9780425243053)
primary language: English
From the publisher:
Lauren O'Farrell is an "art detective" who made it her mission to retrieve invaluable works stolen by the Nazis during the darkest days of World War II. Her quest leads her to the Manhattan apartment of elderly Isabella Fletcher, a woman who lives in the shadow of a terrible history-years ago her mother was rumored to have collaborated with the Nazis.
But as Isabella reveals the events of her mother's life, Lauren finds herself immersed in an amazing story of courage and secrecy as she discovers the extraordinary truth about a priceless piece of art that may have survived the war and the enduring relationship between a mother and a daughter.
My thoughts: First off I have to say I do not care for this cover; it smacks of cheesy romance or light chick lit. There's nothing wrong with romance or chick-lit but it definitely does not do justice to this wonderful story. Get past that and what you find inside is an intriguing story set during two different time frames. Kelly Jones did a terrific job of seamlessly shifting between pre WWII Germany and modern day New York City.
Isabella tells Lauren it's about time the story of her mother, Hanna Schmidt, and a Kandinsky painting was told and what a story it is! We first meet Hanna as a young girl who leaves her family farm to visit her sister in Munich. I found Hanna's story to be fascinating as she became involved with the Fleischmann family both at home and at the Fleischmann Gallery. Hanna had no art education at all, but she had a real love of and feel for the contemporary artists of that era. In time she became not only very knowledgeable but was considered to be an authority on such art.
What was also interesting to me was after Hitler's rise to power, it was his subsequent derogatory judgement of contemporary art that led Hanna to use the position Hitler had thrust her into to try to save some of the ill-fated art works. What was seen at the time as Hanna's collaboration with the Nazis was a disguised attempt to preserve certain paintings for future generations. I thought the Nazis stole art works for their value not for condemnation. A lot of the paintings were sold to finance the Reich but Hitler determined a lot of the contemporary art was not fit to be seen and had it destroyed. Jones skillfully weaves German art history into fiction that made the whole story come alive.
Between the two time frames I think I enjoyed Hanna's story the most; it was interesting to see how Jones developed Hanna's character from a naive sixteen year old farm girl to a talented and caring businesswoman and mother. The ending in modern day was wonderful and such an apt ending to Hanna's and Isabella's stories. If you are a fan of historical fiction, art or WWII fiction, I'm sure you would love this book. The end includes a readers guide. Most enjoyable! 4****
Kelly Jones can be found at her website. Her previous novels include The Seventh Unicorn(Berkley Books, 2005), inspired by The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries in the Cluny Museum in Paris, France, and The Lost Madonna (Berkley Books, 2007), set in Florence, Italy.
To celebrate the release of The Woman Who Heard Color, Berkley is allowing me to host a giveaway for one copy of the book. Open to US and Canada and the deadline to enter is October 23rd at 5 PM (est). Please be sure to leave an e mail address in your comment. Bonus entries available for this contest are as follows:
+1 for posting on your facebook page with link to giveaway
+2 for being a follower, old or new. Just remind me how you follow and under what name.
+3 for blogging (sidebar is fine) or tweeting about the giveaway. Leave me a link, please.
If you cannot leave a comment, you can e mail me at florida982002[at]yahoo.com with Win Woman Who Heard Color in the subject line. Leave your name and e mail.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Berkley Jove in exchange for my honest opinion.