Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Looking ahead with Kristin Harmel...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Phil Art Studio
Introduction by Melissa Amster

I first read a Kristin Harmel novel when I started CLC in 2010. I won a copy of Italian For Beginners and really enjoyed it. At some point, I connected with her online to tell her so and then received The Sweetness of Forgetting in 2012, which I loved. I met Kristin in person around the time that book was published, and she is delightful. About a year later, my entire family got to meet her when we went on our Disney World trip. She made a great impression on everyone and now my mom and sister read her books too. A little while later, she published The Life Intended and that became one of my favorite novels that I can't stop thinking about or recommending. Since that time, she has written a bunch of World War II and Holocaust themed novels, all which have been great and explored different sides of the situation. Her latest, The Book of Lost Names, is definitely a winner in this category. (Check out my review.)

Kristin is here today to share a letter she wrote to herself, to be read again in ten years from now. Thanks to Gallery, we have one copy of The Book of Lost Names for a lucky reader!

Kristin Harmel is the #1 international bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into numerous languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE were the “Heroes Among Us” features—tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of those features—the story of Holocaust-survivor-turned-philanthropist Henri Landwirth (whom both Walter Cronkite and John Glenn told Kristin was the most amazing person they’d ever known)—partially inspired Kristin’s 2012 novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, which was a bestseller all over the world.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She travels frequently to France for book research (and—let’s be honest—for the pastries and wine) and writes a book a year for Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster. (Bio adapted from Kristin's website.)

Visit Kristin online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
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. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


Dear Kristin (circa 2030),
Hello from summer 2020, one of the strangest times I could possibly imagine! I’m sure you’ll remember that this was the summer of Covid-19, the summer of staying home and staying safe, the summer of grocery delivery and socially distanced activities.

Right now, I’m in the midst of dealing with it all, trying to juggle being a good mom to four-year-old Noah with being a writer with a new book out and another book due in a few months. Some days, it feels like too much, and I feel like I’m not quite making the grade in any area of my life. Some days, I feel like I’m failing at everything. Some days, I just feel overwhelmed. But other days, I remember that we’re all struggling right now, that this is uncharted territory, and that all we can do is our best.

In 2030, Kristin, you’ll be 51, so I hope you’re enjoying passing the half-century mark—and I hope you remember, especially with the perspective of the 2020 summer of Covid-19, that every year is a gift, even if you’re resenting the wrinkles on your forehead (which have, as of 2020, already begun their slow and sinister invasion). I hope you’ll remember that wisdom is beautiful, and that you’re ten years wiser than I am now, because you’ll have gone through trials and tribulations I can’t even imagine yet. You’ll have laughed, you’ll have cried, you’ll have ached, you’ll have learned. I hope you’ve always remembered to be good and kind and decent, because I know that sometimes, when things are dark, it becomes easier to let go of the core of who we are.

I hope you’ll look back at the summer of 2020 as one that changed your life—not just with the release of The Book of Lost Names—but by reminding you of the things that are important. I hope you’ll remember that prior to March 2020, you were going a million miles an hour. There were lots of fun, memorable moments in those years—frequent forays to Disney World, day trips to the beach, wild family reunions, book tours that took you all over the country—but now you know that staying home and slowing down is beautiful, too. You know Noah in a whole different way than you did before the pandemic. You spent slow, lazy afternoons together. You wrote while he sat on your feet watching episodes of Paw Patrol. You baked cookies and played with Play-Doh and listened to him make up songs and tell stories. You took daily walks and family bike rides and even pulled out the old inflatable pool, which, miraculously, was still intact.

I hope that ten years in the future, you’ve retained some of the lessons from the summer of 2020. I hope you’ve remembered the value of slowing down, of living with less, of discovering the small joys in life. I hope that you’re a better person, and a better mom, because of it. I hope you never again take for granted a trip to Disney World, or a flight to Paris, or a precious moment together with your husband and son. I hope you remember that the small things are everything—and that though the world you inhabit may be larger now, the things that matter are the things that are still right there in front of you.

And I hope you’re still writing—because if Kristin 2030 is anything like Kristin 2020, writing is where you find yourself, where you find your passion, where you find your release. Writing is what connects you with the world. Writing is the final piece of what makes you feel whole.
Finally, I hope that FRIENDS AND FICTION is still going strong. We founded it in the spring of 2020, and it is, for you, one of the best things that came out of the pandemic. In just a few months, you’re up to 12K members in your Facebook group, and tens of thousands of video views every week. I know you’ll be lifelong friends with Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Patti Callahan Henry, and Mary Alice Monroe, so please do tell them that Kristin 2020 says hi—and that I want to thank them for this incredible journey, which has been one of the very best things to come out of the pandemic. In the midst of the darkness, we found our community—and it’s beautiful.

I hope you’re happy, healthy, and well. Please give Noah a kiss for me—and tell him that with every passing day, I love him more. I can’t imagine even imagine yet how much I’ll love him in 2030, because my heart is already so full of love for him, for my husband, and for this beautiful world around me.

See you in ten years!
Kristin 2020

Thanks to Kristin for the lovely letter and to Gallery for sharing her book with our readers.


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends July 27th at midnight EST.

28 comments:

Melissa said...

The oldest book I own is a children's picture book from my childhood!

Padmini Rao said...

The oldest book I own is Charlotte’s Web.

Donna shaw said...

A bible that my parents gave me as a young girl.

Carla S. said...

I have a copy of A Tale Of Two Cities from 1906.

Linda May said...

The oldest book I own is probably Gond With the Wind. Thanks for your great generosity.

Tracy Wirick said...

Little House on the Prairie box collection

Peggy Russo said...

My copy of Gone With the Wind

Julie C said...

I still have my copy of The Railway Children from my childhood which I have read many times.

Karen B said...

Oldest book I own is my baby book - and it is OLD!!

Shannon S said...

My husband's grandmother's bible

Suburban prep said...

I have the set of Hardback Little House books that I was given when I was 10

traveler said...

My baby book is my oldest book which is precious.

Michelle L said...

The oldest book I own is my copy of Pat the Bunny.

Cherisse said...

It would be my Dad’s Encyclopedia set he handed down to me 😊

Nancy Payette said...

A book written in French passed down from my great grandmother.

Mick Loves Books said...

The oldest book I own is Robinson Crusoe from 1887. It was found in my husband's grandfather's house after he passed and it was given to us.

Elena Y. said...

Lorna Doone from 1967.

Mary Preston said...

I still have all of my books from childhood. Decades old.

diannekc said...

I like old books and have quite a few, I don't know which is the oldest. I always try to find books by Frances Parkinson Keyes.

bn100 said...

not sure

dstoutholcomb said...

I have a book from the 1800s I bought at a flea market in the 80s.

Nancy said...

The oldest book I own is probably a favorite children's cookbook from my childhood.

Nancy
allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Jeanne said...

I have a copy of Daddy Long Legs that was my grandmother’s.

rubynreba said...

The oldest book that I own is a reading text book from 1930.

Grandma Cootie said...

Something called Delineator Recipes, from 1921.

Beverly0606 said...

The oldest book I own is, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Tatum Rangel said...

I believe I still have some of my original "Baby-sitters Club" books. I'd love to read them, again. :)

Jillian Too said...

I own the Old New England Cookbook from 1936.