Book Reviews: “Lucky Us” and “The End of Innocence” |

Book Reviews: “Lucky Us” and “The End of Innocence”

Virgie DeNucci/For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

“Lucky Us”

By Amy Bloom

The first lines of this story immediately captured my attention: “My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.” How could I resist a book that starts like this?

This is the story, set in the 1940s, of two sisters who take what life gives them. Eva and Iris, sharing the same father but different mothers, consistently make a patchwork family wherever they go. Their family includes colorful characters, some related by blood and others who just become family. The “baggage” of these comical characters makes them bond in memorable ways. It made me ponder the difference between the families we are born into and those families that we choose. Maybe this is a story of “blooming wherever we are planted.”

The charming cover art drew me in immediately. I’ll let you decide for yourself which character is represented by the zebra and the lion, but I can say for sure that the tightrope the animals are on is the taut tightrope of the characters’ life.

“The End of Innocence”

By Allegra Jordan

Publishes Tuesday

I love reading historical fiction because I learn much more than facts about an era in history. I learn how people cope and survive the times in which they live. This story is based on the actual event of a memorial being erected at Harvard honoring the Harvard men that fought and died in World War I. Should the German soldiers be honored, as well?

“The End of Innocence” is a love story as well as a story of World War I. It begins on the Harvard campus, which enrolls foreign students to promote diversity. This diversity would pose a problem for the Harvard community as the war progressed.

Helen Brooks, the affluent and head-strong daughter of a conservative scholar, is the only woman in an all-male writing course at Harvard. She becomes romantically involved with two undergraduate classmates — cousins, who must leave Harvard to fight on opposing sides in the European trenches of war. Wils is recalled to the German army and Riley joins the British army.

Left behind, Helen experiences first-hand the war-caused discord present on the Harvard campus, the home front. She observes the disappointing downfall of elegant Boston aristocracy as it contrasts harshly with the brutal realities of war. She worries about the divided loyalties of her cousin suitors fighting abroad and dreads news about their fate.

This novel is rich in historical information but with a storyline that kept me turning the pages. The story allowed me to “feel” as if I was on a college campus living this political dilemma while my Harvard classmates fought in the grueling trenches of war. If you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, as I am, I think you’ll find this book even more memorable.

Virgie DeNucci is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in downtown Steamboat Springs.

These books are available at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore; e-books can be found at

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