Book Reviews: The Second Life of Mirielle West, The Book of Lost Names & Daisy Jones & The Six

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

Goodreads blurb: The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict. Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century. For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease. At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate. As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis. ( This in an ARC audiobook review, thanks to a gift from the publisher.)

My take: 4 out of 5 This was an unexpected delight. I loved this story, it brought me back to one of my favorites books in its whole leper colony aspect: Victoria Hislop’s The Island. A beautiful story on what is our life, how we make a life, and how to make do with any situation that we have. The character development of Mirielle was so well exposed, I was very impressed. The truest compliment of an audiobook, i was so enthralled by the story, that instead of stopping when i arrived in my house, i sat in my living room listening to the last 45 minutes remaining of the book because I just needed to know what happened. The ending was absolutely beautiful.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Goodreads blurb: Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names. The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war? As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears. An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

My take: 4.75 out of 5 I discovered Kristin Harmel this year and now I am obsessed. After reading A forest of Vanishing Stars I decided i needed to get more of her. I was not disappointed at all with this choice. On the contrary. This was amazing. Such a gut wrenching story, beautiful characters and powerful writing. Oh and the end, it gutted me, can someone discuss this with me. Side note: i read this one in audiobook whilst I was on a trip on the highway. There is a warning, one should not listed to sad WWII stories whilst driving. I was in the highway trying to dry my tears an stop the fogging in my sunglasses – a disaster for my driving, but speaks very well for the book.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Goodreads blurb: A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up. Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now. Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things. Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend

My take: 4.5 out o 5. I think the theme of these reviews is authors I’m really digging and I’m going back to read the back catalog that I haven’t read. The way this is written is so cool! ITs written like an oral history in many voices. The level of detail is absolutely impressive, its seems like its real, like i could go and listen to these records, and go buy the Rolling Stones magazine and read all of this further, its amazing that all of it was fictional. The characters are saw raw and damaged its addictive to read. Also there are so many moral and timing questions? what is love? How far you should go for it. So good! However that ending?? NOOOO i needed one more page!

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