Because Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is really a collection of six short mysteries, and because book group 2 is not scheduled to discuss Pride and Prejudice until late September, I took a break and slipped in another book from the great and growing to-be-read pile.
In 1939 during the German occupation of Poland, Jan and Antonina ran a zoo. Eventually, the Nazis extended their unthinkable experimentation to animals, and confiscated the best of the Zabinski's stock. As tensions heightened and Jews were being rounded up, killed or transported to death camps, a small community came together the risk their own lives to hide as many people as they could.
A complex operation of secrecy led to at least 300 people being housed at the abandoned zoo which served as a sort of way-station until the next leg of their protected journey could be put into action.
Heading the operation, putting their lives on the line and at times compromising personal values for the good of others were Jan and Antonina. They are among the many unsung heroes of the German occupation, like Corrie Tenboom and others whose stories only come to light for most of us through writers like Diane Ackerman. Critics say that Ackerman wanders too far from the central story here; for me, the side trips she took were needed to fill in gaps in my history knowledge.
Stylistically, Ackerman is a good as ever in this offering. She moves with ease from the dark side of war to tender depictions of the many, many persons whose lives and journeys she shares. And the animals! They are character as well, and the author offers them the same care and respect given to the humans.
Worth taking a chance on.
As far a Sidney Chambers is concerned, I am totally enjoying this breezy look at the life of a vicar who works both sides of the altar. On one hand, he deals with saving souls, finding the good in people. In detective mode, he looks beneath the surface, considering how and why criminals turn to evil. Fun stuff. I have always like mysteries set in small town, be it an English village or a secluded western ranching town. No big city crime stories for me.
Pride is moving along nicely as well. Since beginning this dance with Austen, many Austen-ites have appeared in my life to offer advice on how to conquer this book. While I appreciate the advice, I think I am beyond the need to conquer - it really is quite a simple book. But yes, Kris, I do know that I can look up "odd" words in a dictionary, and Kevin, I have seen the movies and know the basic plot, but will most likely watch it again.....oh, Michelle, I won't be cutting down my reading "obligation" by skipping every other chapter, but thanks for the suggestion...
...and, thanks for stopping by....