Sunday, August 11, 2019

Historical Book Review: Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections by Susan Shalev

Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections by Susan Shalev
Self-Published December 2018
198 pages
Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction

Reviewers Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections is a wonderfully written book. I was immediately pulled into the story of Tanya and her family. The year 1939, ten-year-old Tanya has no concerns other than hanging with her friends and members of a successful Jewish family. Her father makes sweets, her grandfather runs a successful bakery. Life is good, and then it’s not. War rolls through Poland, flattening everything in sight. Tanya’s father wisely decides to flee, leaving behind his company and their beautiful apartment. With little more than the clothes on their back they head east into Russian. 

This is a tale of survival, and resilience under dire circumstances. Riding out the war is Siberia is no picnic as the family moves from town to town, seeking safety.  Even with peace comes more challenges, as Tanya and her family struggle to regain some semblance of their former lives. 

Written in first person, this narrative is fast-paced and intimate. Although fiction the author based the story is based on the real-life experiences of a young girl retold as a grown woman. The characters are well drawn and leap from the pages. Tanya was a delight, and I found myself cheering for her from start to finish. 

Congratulations to Susan Shalev on this amazing novel. 

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Jewish history, history of WWII, the holocaust, and historical fiction.

I would rate this book 4 ½ stars

My Ratings: 

1  Star: Not good at all, do not read!

2  Stars: Read only as a last resort, no other books available

3 Stars: Good, enjoyed it, will recommend with reservations

4 Stars: Really good, read this book!

5 Stars: So good, I might read it again sometime! Highly recommend

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