Modern Lit: The Guest Room, by Chris Bohjalian

The Guest Room

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a lifetime of devouring books, I have concluded that most of them are read and easily forgotten, but a few stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Chris Bohjalian has the distinction of having written two of the latter. The first is Skeletons at the Feast, about the horrors committed on the populace by Germans and Russians during the last months of WWII. I just finished reading the second yesterday, The Guest Room, which is about the horrors of international human trafficking, and have no doubt that it too will continue to haunt my memory for years to come.

A bachelor party (when did they stop calling them “stags”?) gone terribly wrong is the impetus for the story line, which plays out from the points of view of the host, Richard Chapman, and one of the young “exotic dancers”, Alexandra. They are both powerful characters. It is painful to read Alexandra’s graphic account of her brutal kidnapping and degradation, and the utter hopelessness of her ensuing life, and she is one of the most unforgettable protagonists I have ever encountered. It is less easy to feel sympathy for Richard, the urbane and savvy investment banker with a beautiful wife and child who simply watched his brother’s “party” decline into total debauchery and end in murder. But loss of control characterizes Richard’s situation as well as Alexandra’s, and as he struggles to cope with the many humiliations and complications he will have to suffer,  his deep shame and  his refusal to make excuses reveal him in essence as a good man who drank way too much and failed to put his foot on the brakes when he should have. His wife, Kristin, is also multi-dimensional, refraining from vengefulness despite her sickening sense of revulsion  and disbelief over her husband’s betrayal and the bloody desecration of their home. Melissa, their nine year old daughter, is the child Alexandra never had the chance to be; one of the few smiles provoked during the story came from Melissa’s fear that the men killed in her home were still present as ghosts.

This is a tightly plotted novel written with all the skill I’ve come to expect from Bohjalian’s prose. Surprises abound, and the book ends up at a place I never foresaw for it. It is not easy to read, but it is certainly gripping, and I finished it in a day. But the hopelessless that colors most of the chapters is somewhat mitigated at last.

Now I have to figure out what I want to do to help end human trafficking.

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History News: Did Amelia Earhart Survive?

Excerpt from article by T. Costello and D. Arpin:

A newly discovered photograph suggests legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished 80 years ago on a round-the-world flight, survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands.

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The photo, found in a long-forgotten file in the National Archives, shows a woman who resembles Earhart and a man who appears to be her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a dock. The discovery is featured in a new History channel special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” that airs Sunday.

Independent analysts told History the photo appears legitimate and undoctored. Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director for the FBI and an NBC News analyst, has studied the photo and feels confident it shows the famed pilot and her navigator.

Earhart was last heard from on July 2, 1937, as she attempted to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe. She was declared dead two years later after the U.S. concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and her remains were never found.

But investigators believe they have found evidence Earhart and Noonan were blown off course but survived the ordeal. The investigative team behind the History special believes the photo may have been taken by someone who was spying for the U.S. on Japanese military activity in the Pacific.

From NBC news , where more info and a video can be found.

Definitely going to watch that History Channel doc.

Bad Girls: Kiki de Montparnasse

brancusi-rosso-man-ray-05I first learned about Alice Prin, aka Kiki de Montparnasse, while reading Laurie R. King’s novel, The Bones of Paris, a mystery set in 1920’s Paris. Kiki’s story is an intriguing one. She was born in Burgundy in 1901, raised in poverty and poorly educated. She arrived in Paris at age 12, when her mother moved there to find work. Kiki herself worked at a bakery and as a dishwasher, gradually becoming an artists’ model, through which, she said, she had found her “real milieu”. Of Montparnasse she wrote, “People are broadminded and where what would be crime elsewhere is just a pecadillo”. Kiki was no thin little waif; there was meat on her bones and  she was never shy about showing off her face or body. More accurately, it seems, Kiki was never shy about anything; she once landed in jail for slugging a cafe owner and a policeman. She modeled for and provided inspiration todozens of well known artists, and when she became Man Ray’s muse and lover, she quickly became celebrated as a symbol of bohemian Paris.

kiki5b45dWhat makes Kiki a “bad girl” is her refusal to be just another artists’ model, instead deciding for herself what her public persona would be. She performed in short, experimental movies, some of them deemed shocking, and sang risque songs in music halls. She demanded the same sexual freedoms that were granted to men, and celebrated her sexuality. In the hundreds of photos that were taken of her, she stares directly out at the viewer. One of her closest friends was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote the introduction to her memoirs, which were considered so scandalous that her books were banned in the U.S. Hanging out with so many major talents inspired Kiki to develop her own creative abilities, and when her paintings were exhibited at Galerie au Sacre du Printemps, they sold out on opening night.

As the era of the 1920’s drew to a close, Kiki fell into a long downward spiral, during which substance abuse and addiction would destroy her health. She died in 1953 at the age of 53. As the “Queen of Montparnasse”,  she was a trailblazer in the quest for women’s freedom to live their lives on their own terms.

 

It’s a Mystery: The Bones of Paris, by Laurie R. King

The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant, #2)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Laurie King transports her readers to Jazz Age Paris in the second entry in her Harris Stuyvesant series. Harry is still trying to recover from a long defunct romance, so he accepts a request to look into the disappearance of Philippa Crosby, with whom he had a brief fling on the Riviera. Pip, as she’s known, has been skirting the fringes of the Parisian demi-monde , modeling for artists such as Man Ray and hobnobbing with Hemingway and his cronies. The surreal and macabre nature of some of her belongings disturb Harry initially.  But when he traces Pip’s activities to the Theatre du Grand-Guignol, a venue famous for its depraved and violent presentations, his concerns skyrocket.

Stuyvesant is a morose, rather cynical character, and when his lost love, Sarah,  turns up in the company of Man Ray, it throws him; as a result Harry throws himself into the seamy, often secretive midnight bar scene frequented by artists and writers. Interestingly, he’s developed a real attraction to Pip’s flatmate, but his dark mood and careless habits threaten to wreck the relationship before it begins. During the course of his investigation, he finds himself immersed in a subculture that meets in Paris’ infamous catecombs to celebrate the cult of “death pornography”. Harry begins to receive messages meant to encourage him to quit the search, and when he persists, his casual mistress is shot to death on the streets. Harry connects with a city detective who, because of Harry’s former association with J. Edgar Hoover, is willing to work with him, undercover, bien sur. To their horror, many more young women have disappeared.

The appeal of this novel lies in its ambience, the view it provides into the dark underside of the City of Light. The investigation itself is rather slow, with a shot of real suspense saved for the final chapters. It’s fun to encounter the rich and famous, though the only ones portrayed in any depth are Kiki de Montparnasse and Man Ray. Harry himself, in spite of his self-defeating choices, is likable for his humanity and genuine sense of justice. King’s writing, of course, is good as ever.  Not a “page turner”, but did keep my interest from start to finish.

View all my reviews

It’s a Mystery: The Woman in Cabin Ten, by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Locked room mysteries have been popular over the years, and while The Woman in Cabin Ten takes place on a yacht, it follows classic locked room standards. Lo Blackwood is a journalist working for a travel magazine when she’s handed a plum assignment – to sail and report on the maiden voyage of luxury boutique cruise ship Northern Lights. Shortly before she’s due to depart, Lo’s apartment is broken into while she’s sleeping. Lo is no wonder woman. She’s been depressed and anxious for most of her life, and the break in (which is one of the novel’s more effective sequences) terrifies her, which, in fairness, is how most women would react. To pile on additional stress, she has a fight with her boyfriend hours before boarding ship. So when Lo overhears the sounds of a body being thrown overboard on her first night at sea, she reacts in a way that lands her in permanent panic mode.

The rest of the book follows the course of Lo’s attempts to convince the ship’s crew that a murder has taken place. This is a more difficult task than you might think, and the tension ratchets up even higher when she discovers that someone has been tampering with things in her cabin. Lo trusts none of her fellow passengers, and while no one believes her, she does begin to make some progress to eliminating possible suspects. The final third of the story takes place in a pitch black, locked room deep in the ship’s hold, where Lo has been taken prisoner because she now knows too much. Ruth Ware has realistically portrayed the effects of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation in these scenes. At times, the narrative cuts away to news reports about a woman who has disappeared from Northern Lights and is presumed dead. Will all become clear at the end? Will Lo survive?

Though Lo comes across as an unreliable narrative at times, and an emotional mess nearly all the time, you have to credit her with dogged perseverance, even though she fears, rightly enough, that her life is in danger. She also deserves credit for not allowing her psychological problems to destroy her integrity. Is she “likeable”? Many readers say not. To me, that doesn’t matter, because her story was compelling, and I dare say there are very many people out there who must deal with similar sorts of emotional issues.

View all my reviews

The Resting Place of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

A couple of years ago, long time friend Ken generously agreed to post an photo essay about scenes from the Civil War, then and now. This has deservedly become one of the most popular posts on You’re History, and if you missed it, you can find it here. This past summer, Ken and Eileen made another CW pilgrimage of sorts, to the grave of Union hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who is also a favorite of mine. I’m so pleased that Ken has agreed to do a guest post on his thoughts about our mutual hero from Maine.

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What to Do in Maine,

When All You See is Rain


Several years back, my wife, Eileen, and I, traveled up to Maine for a short three day vacation, our destination being Orr’s Island, located on a finger of land roughly 
eleven miles east of the town of Brunswick. As luck would have it, the clouds gathered shortly after leaving CT, and we never saw sunshine again until sometime on our return drive back to our home state. To make matters worse, a good portion of the time, it poured like the dickens. Naturally this put a “damper” on a lot of the activities we were planning, so we started thinking of alternative things to do. As I am an absolute Civil War nut, and knowing that the town of Brunswick was the home to one of the true heroes of that war, Joshua Chamberlain, I had made a comment to Eileen as we passed through there on our first day, about him being from that town. Luckily we had internet capabilities at our lodging. So during a rain 

storm on our second day, Eileen, being an internet surfing queen, in no time at all, came up with the burial site of Chamberlain, a cemetery named Pine Grove. And to boot, she recalled seeing said cemetery when we had driven through Brunswick the day before. It was, she said, located adjacent to Bowdoin College. So off we went back to Brunswick during an infrequent rain break, located the cemetery, and after getting our sneakers and socks thoroughly drenched from the wet grass, we finally found the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain, and took a few photos. He is surrounded by family members, wife, children, etc. So, being a Civil War fanatic, this was a real high point to an otherwise wet and dreary trip, an unexpected little pleasure for me. And, as usual, Eileen was a real trooper, dealing with my interest in the Civil War.

As I mentioned, Joshua Chamberlain is one of the real heroes of that war, in my opinion, very much overlooked. Here is short list of his accomplishments and activities, both during the war and the years following. After attending Bowdoin College, he eventually became a faculty member, teaching various subjects over a number of years. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered his services, and was offered a rank of Lt. Col. of the 20th Maine regiment. After a few minor skirmishes, this regiment saw it’s first major engagement at the battle of Fredericksburg, participating in the famous assault on Marye’s Heights. After missing the next big engagement, the battle of Chancellorsville, due to the regiment being decimated with disease, the unit was next involved in the march to Gettysburg, where the Confederate armies of R.E.Lee were in the process of invading the northern states. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the regiment was assigned to a position on a hill named Little Round Top, which ended up being the extreme left flank of the Union Army. On the second day of the battle, his regiment repulsed numerous assaults by the 15th Alabama, until such time when his men were running out of ammunition, he ordered a bayonet charge, which completely routed the Confederate forces, securing the vulnerable left flank of the army. He suffered two minor wounds at this engagement. During the next two years of the war, he was involved in the fighting under U.S. Grant and his march south, which eventually ended at the surrender at Appomattox, VA. He was given the honor of receiving the official surrender of the Confederate forces there.

After the war, Chamberlain returned to Maine, eventually entering into politics. He served four one year terms as Governor of Maine, and after leaving politics, served as president of Bowdoin College. Chamberlain died in 1914, at the age of 85, from the lingering effects of wounds suffered in the war. He is the last known veteran to have died from wounds received during the war.

War record:

He was involved in 20 battles and numerous minor skirmishes.

He was cited for bravery four times, and received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Had six horses shot out from underneath him.

Wounded six times, one of which was thought to be mortal.

Rose to Brig. General (Brevet Maj. General).

Received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Little Round Top.to do in Maine,
When all you see is rain
Last month, my wife, Eileen, and I, traveled up to Maine for a short three day vacation, our
destination being Orr’s Island, located on a finger of land roughly eleven miles east of the
town of Brunswick. As luck would have it, the clouds gathered shortly after leaving CT.,
and we never saw sunshine again until sometime on our return drive back to our home state.
To make matters worse, a good portion of the time, it poured like the dickens. Naturally this
put a “damper” on a lot of the activities we were planning, so we started thinking of alternative
things to do. As I am an absolute Civil War nut, and knowing that the town of Brunswick was
the home to one of the true heroes of that war, Joshua Chamberlain, I had made a comment to
Eileen as we passed through there on our first day, about him being from that town. Luckily
we had internet capabilities at our lodging. So during a rain storm on our second day, Eileen,
being an internet surfing queen, in no time at all, came up with the burial site of Chamberlain,
a cemetery named Pine Grove. And to boot, she recalled seeing said cemetery when we had
driven through Brunswick the day before. It was, she said, located adjacent to Bowdoin
College. So off we went back to Brunswick during an infrequent rain break, located the
cemetery, and after getting our sneakers and socks thoroughly drenched from the wet grass,
we finally found the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain, and took a few photos. He is surrounded
by family members, wife, children, etc. So, being a Civil War fanatic, this was a real high point
to an otherwise, wet and dreary trip, an unexpected little pleasure for me. And, as usual, Eileen
was a real trooper, dealing with my interest in the Civil War.
As I mentioned, Joshua Chamberlain is one of the real heroes of that war, in my opinion, very
much overlooked. Here is short list of his accomplishments and activities, both during the war
and the years following.
After attending Bowdoin College, he eventually became a faculty member, teaching various
subjects over a number of years. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered his services,
and was offered a rank of Lt. Col. of the 20th Maine regiment. After a few minor skirmishes,
this regiment saw it’s first major engagement at the battle of Fredericksburg,  participating
in the famous assault on Marye’s Heights. After missing the next big engagement, the battle
of Chancellorsville, due to the regiment being decimated with disease, the unit was next
involved in the march to Gettysburg, where the Confederate armies of R.E.Lee were in the
process of invading the northern states. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the regiment was assigned
to a  position on a hill named Little Round Top, which ended up being the extreme left flank of
the Union Army. On the second day of the battle, his regiment repulsed numerous assaults by
the 15th Alabama, until such time when his men were running out of ammunition, he ordered a
bayonet charge, which completely routed the Confederate forces, securing the vulnerable left
flank of the army.  He suffered two minor wounds at this engagement. During the next two
years of the war, he was involved in the fighting under U.S. Grant and his march south, which
eventually ended at the surrender at Appomattox, VA. He was given the honor of receiving the
official surrender of the Confederate forces there.
After the war, he returned to Maine, eventually entering into politics. He served four one year
terms as Governor of Maine, and after leaving politics, served as president of Bowdoin College.
Chamberlain died in 1914, at the age of 85, from the lingering effects of wounds suffered in
the war. He is the last known veteran to have died from wounds received during the war.
War record:
He was involved in 20 battles and numerous minor skirmishes.
He was cited for bravery four times.
Had six horses shot out from underneath him.
Wounded six times, one of which was thought to be mortal.
Rose to Brig. General (Brevet Maj. General).
Received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Little Round Top.
to do in Maine,
When all you see is rain
Last month, my wife, Eileen, and I, traveled up to Maine for a short three day vacation, our
destination being Orr’s Island, located on a finger of land roughly eleven miles east of the
town of Brunswick. As luck would have it, the clouds gathered shortly after leaving CT.,
and we never saw sunshine again until sometime on our return drive back to our home state.
To make matters worse, a good portion of the time, it poured like the dickens. Naturally this
put a “damper” on a lot of the activities we were planning, so we started thinking of alternative
things to do. As I am an absolute Civil War nut, and knowing that the town of Brunswick was
the home to one of the true heroes of that war, Joshua Chamberlain, I had made a comment to
Eileen as we passed through there on our first day, about him being from that town. Luckily
we had internet capabilities at our lodging. So during a rain storm on our second day, Eileen,
being an internet surfing queen, in no time at all, came up with the burial site of Chamberlain,
a cemetery named Pine Grove. And to boot, she recalled seeing said cemetery when we had
driven through Brunswick the day before. It was, she said, located adjacent to Bowdoin
College. So off we went back to Brunswick during an infrequent rain break, located the
cemetery, and after getting our sneakers and socks thoroughly drenched from the wet grass,
we finally found the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain, and took a few photos. He is surrounded
by family members, wife, children, etc. So, being a Civil War fanatic, this was a real high point
to an otherwise, wet and dreary trip, an unexpected little pleasure for me. And, as usual, Eileen
was a real trooper, dealing with my interest in the Civil War.
As I mentioned, Joshua Chamberlain is one of the real heroes of that war, in my opinion, very
much overlooked. Here is short list of his accomplishments and activities, both during the war
and the years following.
After attending Bowdoin College, he eventually became a faculty member, teaching various
subjects over a number of years. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered his services,
and was offered a rank of Lt. Col. of the 20th Maine regiment. After a few minor skirmishes,
this regiment saw it’s first major engagement at the battle of Fredericksburg,  participating
in the famous assault on Marye’s Heights. After missing the next big engagement, the battle
of Chancellorsville, due to the regiment being decimated with disease, the unit was next
involved in the march to Gettysburg, where the Confederate armies of R.E.Lee were in the
process of invading the northern states. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the regiment was assigned
to a  position on a hill named Little Round Top, which ended up being the extreme left flank of
the Union Army. On the second day of the battle, his regiment repulsed numerous assaults by
the 15th Alabama, until such time when his men were running out of ammunition, he ordered a
bayonet charge, which completely routed the Confederate forces, securing the vulnerable left
flank of the army.  He suffered two minor wounds at this engagement. During the next two
years of the war, he was involved in the fighting under U.S. Grant and his march south, which
eventually ended at the surrender at Appomattox, VA. He was given the honor of receiving the
official surrender of the Confederate forces there.
After the war, he returned to Maine, eventually entering into politics. He served four one year
terms as Governor of Maine, and after leaving politics, served as president of Bowdoin College.
Chamberlain died in 1914, at the age of 85, from the lingering effects of wounds suffered in
the war. He is the last known veteran to have died from wounds received during the war.
War record:
He was involved in 20 battles and numerous minor skirmishes.
He was cited for bravery four times.
Had six horses shot out from underneath him.
Wounded six times, one of which was thought to be mortal.
Rose to Brig. General (Brevet Maj. General).
Received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Little Round Top.
to do in Maine,
When all you see is rain
Last month, my wife, Eileen, and I, traveled up to Maine for a short three day vacation, our
destination being Orr’s Island, located on a finger of land roughly eleven miles east of the
town of Brunswick. As luck would have it, the clouds gathered shortly after leaving CT.,
and we never saw sunshine again until sometime on our return drive back to our home state.
To make matters worse, a good portion of the time, it poured like the dickens. Naturally this
put a “damper” on a lot of the activities we were planning, so we started thinking of alternative
things to do. As I am an absolute Civil War nut, and knowing that the town of Brunswick was
the home to one of the true heroes of that war, Joshua Chamberlain, I had made a comment to
Eileen as we passed through there on our first day, about him being from that town. Luckily
we had internet capabilities at our lodging. So during a rain storm on our second day, Eileen,
being an internet surfing queen, in no time at all, came up with the burial site of Chamberlain,
a cemetery named Pine Grove. And to boot, she recalled seeing said cemetery when we had
driven through Brunswick the day before. It was, she said, located adjacent to Bowdoin
College. So off we went back to Brunswick during an infrequent rain break, located the
cemetery, and after getting our sneakers and socks thoroughly drenched from the wet grass,
we finally found the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain, and took a few photos. He is surrounded
by family members, wife, children, etc. So, being a Civil War fanatic, this was a real high point
to an otherwise, wet and dreary trip, an unexpected little pleasure for me. And, as usual, Eileen
was a real trooper, dealing with my interest in the Civil War.
As I mentioned, Joshua Chamberlain is one of the real heroes of that war, in my opinion, very
much overlooked. Here is short list of his accomplishments and activities, both during the war
and the years following.
After attending Bowdoin College, he eventually became a faculty member, teaching various
subjects over a number of years. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered his services,
and was offered a rank of Lt. Col. of the 20th Maine regiment. After a few minor skirmishes,
this regiment saw it’s first major engagement at the battle of Fredericksburg,  participating
in the famous assault on Marye’s Heights. After missing the next big engagement, the battle
of Chancellorsville, due to the regiment being decimated with disease, the unit was next
involved in the march to Gettysburg, where the Confederate armies of R.E.Lee were in the
process of invading the northern states. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the regiment was assigned
to a  position on a hill named Little Round Top, which ended up being the extreme left flank of
the Union Army. On the second day of the battle, his regiment repulsed numerous assaults by
the 15th Alabama, until such time when his men were running out of ammunition, he ordered a
bayonet charge, which completely routed the Confederate forces, securing the vulnerable left
flank of the army.  He suffered two minor wounds at this engagement. During the next two
years of the war, he was involved in the fighting under U.S. Grant and his march south, which
eventually ended at the surrender at Appomattox, VA. He was given the honor of receiving the
official surrender of the Confederate forces there.
After the war, he returned to Maine, eventually entering into politics. He served four one year
terms as Governor of Maine, and after leaving politics, served as president of Bowdoin College.
Chamberlain died in 1914, at the age of 85, from the lingering effects of wounds suffered in
the war. He is the last known veteran to have died from wounds received during the war.
War record:
He was involved in 20 battles and numerous minor skirmishes.
He was cited for bravery four times.
Had six horses shot out from underneath him.
Wounded six times, one of which was thought to be mortal.
Rose to Brig. General (Brevet Maj. General).
Received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Little Round TopWhat to do in Maine,
When all you see is rain
Last month, my wife, Eileen, and I, traveled up to Maine for a short three day vacation, our
destination being Orr’s Island, located on a finger of land roughly eleven miles east of the
town of Brunswick. As luck would have it, the clouds gathered shortly after leaving CT.,
and we never saw sunshine again until sometime on our return drive back to our home state.
To make matters worse, a good portion of the time, it poured like the dickens. Naturally this
put a “damper” on a lot of the activities we were planning, so we started thinking of alternative
things to do. As I am an absolute Civil War nut, and knowing that the town of Brunswick was
the home to one of the true heroes of that war, Joshua Chamberlain, I had made a comment to
Eileen as we passed through there on our first day, about him being from that town. Luckily
we had internet capabilities at our lodging. So during a rain storm on our second day, Eileen,
being an internet surfing queen, in no time at all, came up with the burial site of Chamberlain,
a cemetery named Pine Grove. And to boot, she recalled seeing said cemetery when we had
driven through Brunswick the day before. It was, she said, located adjacent to Bowdoin
College. So off we went back to Brunswick during an infrequent rain break, located the
cemetery, and after getting our sneakers and socks thoroughly drenched from the wet grass,
we finally found the grave site of Joshua Chamberlain, and took a few photos. He is surrounded
by family members, wife, children, etc. So, being a Civil War fanatic, this was a real high point
to an otherwise, wet and dreary trip, an unexpected little pleasure for me. And, as usual, Eileen
was a real trooper, dealing with my interest in the Civil War.
As I mentioned, Joshua Chamberlain is one of the real heroes of that war, in my opinion, very
much overlooked. Here is short list of his accomplishments and activities, both during the war
and the years following.
After attending Bowdoin College, he eventually became a faculty member, teaching various
subjects over a number of years. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered his services,
and was offered a rank of Lt. Col. of the 20th Maine regiment. After a few minor skirmishes,
this regiment saw it’s first major engagement at the battle of Fredericksburg,  participating
in the famous assault on Marye’s Heights. After missing the next big engagement, the battle
of Chancellorsville, due to the regiment being decimated with disease, the unit was next
involved in the march to Gettysburg, where the Confederate armies of R.E.Lee were in the
process of invading the northern states. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the regiment was assigned
to a  position on a hill named Little Round Top, which ended up being the extreme left flank of
the Union Army. On the second day of the battle, his regiment repulsed numerous assaults by
the 15th Alabama, until such time when his men were running out of ammunition, he ordered a
bayonet charge, which completely routed the Confederate forces, securing the vulnerable left
flank of the army.  He suffered two minor wounds at this engagement. During the next two
years of the war, he was involved in the fighting under U.S. Grant and his march south, which
eventually ended at the surrender at Appomattox, VA. He was given the honor of receiving the
official surrender of the Confederate forces there.
After the war, he returned to Maine, eventually entering into politics. He served four one year
terms as Governor of Maine, and after leaving politics, served as president of Bowdoin College.
Chamberlain died in 1914, at the age of 85, from the lingering effects of wounds suffered in
the war. He is the last known veteran to have died from wounds received during the war.
War record:
He was involved in 20 battles and numerous minor skirmishes.
He was cited for bravery four times.
Had six horses shot out from underneath him.
Wounded six times, one of which was thought to be mortal.
Rose to Brig. General (Brevet Maj. General).
Received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Little Round Top.

Paranormal Fiction: Blythewood, by Carol Goodman

Blythewood (Blythewood, #1)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Carol Goodman’s novels generally take place at in educational settings near bodies of water, where female protagonists must face mysterious circumstances fraught with danger. Blythewood is no exception, but this time around, the book is aimed at a young adult audience. Intriguingly, the story’s catalyst takes place during the horrific fire at New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where Avaline Hall has sought employment after her mother’s early death. Amidst the terror, Avaline escapes death through the actions of a pair of strange males, one a beautiful winged creature and the other a malevolent man in an Inverness cape. Little wonder that she lands in a psychiatric ward, until her estranged grandmother takes her under wing. Suddenly, Avaline finds herself a student at the elite school, Blythewood on the Hudson, following in the footsteps of her mother, who although she was expelled, is something of a folk heroine. Reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, no?

Avaline’s experiences at Blythewood open her eyes to the paranormal world of magic, fairies, and evil that coexists within the forests that surround the campus. As she struggles to fit into the snooty student body, Avaline encounters both the caped man and the winged boy again, making new friends, falling in love, and discovering special powers that she never suspected she possessed. Most of all, she wants to learn why her mother left school in disgrace, and who her father is. The adolescent angst is true to the genre, but the story was well written, full of quirky characters, and compelling enough to hold my interest. Not sure, however, whether or not I’ll check out Ravenswood, the sequel.

View all my reviews