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:: book news, literary trivia, and commentary:: Word Smitten's Book Review :: Harriette Angsten
:: winter edition

Title: Postcards from Berlin
Author: Margaret Leroy
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Date: June 2003 First Edition
ISBN: 0316738231

By Harriette Angsten
Special to WordSmitten

In Postcards from Berlin, author Margaret Leroy invites us into the seemingly perfect life of Catriona Lydgate - loyal wife, devoted mother, and talented artist.

By outward appearances, she has it all, right down to the proper London home. Cat's life begins to unravel when her young daughter, Daisy, is struck with a mysterious flu-like illness that she can't seem to overcome, triggering a series of medical consultations and a frantic search for answers.

Fear and desperation take over Cat's life, creeping into every crack and crevice of her marriage, as she helplessly watches her life spiral out of control. Even her intense love and concern for her daughter are questioned by those to whom she has turned for help.

As the accusations take a threatening turn, Cat realizes that she is about to lose the very thing she loves the most - her daughter - and tries to deflect the probing questions into her stormy childhood with lies. She is shocked when even her husband, Richard, withdraws his support for her. As trauma unravels her quiet life, a series of mysterious postcards from Berlin begin to arrive, forcing her to deal with hurts she has long ago locked away.

With wonderfully descriptive writing and psychological insight, Leroy crafts a mesmerizing tale of love and fear. Rather than spoon feeding us the resolution, the author allows us to follow Catriona Lydgate with empathy as she regains control of her life. Even the most detached reader will be led to examine his or her own childhood experiences, proving once again that we are all products of our past.

Harriette Angsten, an avid reader, is a frequent contributor to the Osprey Observer, lives in Florida, and enjoys writing, searching for antiques, and participating in the lives of her grandchildren.

Literary Trivia - Ever tried the Spa Treatment for slow selling novels? Agatha did it.

Agatha Christie, born September 15, 1890.

Here are tidy bits about her life. When things got tough for her, she escaped to a spa in what may have been, in the 1890s, one of the first well-planned publicity stunts by a woman author. It was that, or book revisions were making her personal windmills tilt. Either way, we wish Agatha a very belated birthday. More trivia:

Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller, later known as Agatha Christie, is born Torquay, Devon, England. Educated at Ashfield, her parents’ comfortable home, Christie began making up stories as a child. Her mother and her older sister Madge also made up stories; Madge told especially thrilling tales about a fictional, mentally deranged older sister.

Agatha married Colonel Archibald Christie in 1914, before World War I, and had one daughter. While her husband was off fighting in World War I, Christie worked as an assistant in a pharmacy, where she learned about poisons. She began to write on a dare from her sister and produced her first mystery novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who would appear in 25 more novels during the next quarter century. The novel found modest success, and she continued writing. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) became a bestseller, and she enjoyed phenomenal success for the rest of her life.

Agatha Christie entered a period of emotional turmoil after the death of her mother and a divorce from her first husband. She disappeared for 11 days, eventually turning up at a health spa. Her disappearance was highly publicized, and an expensive government search ensued. She was later criticized for not coming forward with her whereabouts.

In 1930, she married archeologist Sir Max Mallowan and accompanied him on expeditions to the Middle East, which became the setting for many of her novels. She then created Miss Marple, one of her most beloved detectives. All told, Christie wrote some 80 novels, 30 short story collections, and 15 plays, plus six romances under the pen name Mary Westmacott. She was knighted in 1971 and died in 1976, just a year after she killed off Poirot in the novel Curtain: Hercule Poirot’s Last Case. Poirot received a front-page obituary in the New York Times on August 6, 1975.

By the time Christie died, more than 400 million copies of her books had been sold in more than 100 languages.

hot for January - Norah Vincent's new book

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (January 19, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0670034665
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.0 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds. (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: based on 10 reviews. (Write a review.)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #8 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
Yesterday: #8 in Books

Literary History Tidbits: courtesy of The History Channel.

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