Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Tour and Book Review #45: SONGBIRD UNDER A GERMAN MOON by Tricia Goyer

Pub. Date: February 2010
Publisher: Summerside Press
Format: Paperback, 320pp
ISBN-13: 9781935416685
ISBN: 1935416685
Description (from the publisher):
The year is 1945. The war is over and 21-year-old Betty Lake has been invited to Europe to sing in a USO tour for American soldiers who now occupy Hitler's Germany. The first night's performance is a hit. Betty becomes enthralled with the applause, the former Nazi-held mansion they're housed in and the attention of Frank Witt, the US Army Signal Corp Photographer. Yet the next night this songbird is ready to fly the coop when Betty's dear friend, Kat, turns up missing. Betty soon realizes Frank's photographs could be the key to finding Kat. Betty and Frank team up against post-war Nazi influences and the two lovebirds' hearts may find the each other. But will they have a chance for their romance to sing? The truth will be revealed under a German moon.

My Rating: 3 Stars out of 5 - a light and enjoyable read

My Thoughts:
SONGBIRD UNDER A GERMAN MOON represents my first real foray into reading Christian fiction. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was curious. I decided that I was most likely missing out on some well-written books, and wondered exactly what it was that was causing me to resist the genre. I think my main concern was that I didn't want to feel preached to. Then I wondered why I might feel that way. After all, I read books about a wide variety of cultures and beliefs, I usually feel more understanding and respect for those cultures and more tolerance toward different beliefs after I've read about them. When I read a book with non-Christian characters and one of them refers to their spiritual beliefs, offers up a prayer to Allah, or spends time before a Hindu shrine, I don't feel as though I am being pressured to adopt those beliefs. Rather, I take it as an opportunity to learn, to gain insight not only into the character but to another culture as well. So why couldn't I approach Christian fiction with the same attitude? I decided to read a few books, consider their literary inpact on me, and write about them here I my blog. And so, I did.

I like reading historical fiction and one of my favorite periods to read about is the WWII era. I also like mysteries and the occasional romance. In SONGBIRD UNDER A GERMAN MOON, Tricia Goyer weaves all three of those strands together and creates a WWII historical with a rather transparent mystery and a predictable romance -- but it all makes for a pleasant read. It might be hard to imagine that a story set in Germany immediately after the end of the war could be a light read, but I compared it to Hollywood movies from the same period -- the handsome and brave American hero, the beautiful spunky yet vulnerable heroine, the sinister bad guy who gets his comeuppence . . .

As I said, this was an enjoyable read. Goyer has a nice, clear writing style - the kind that looks easy but surely isn't. Her descriptions of a war-torn Germany are evocotive and transport the reader back through the decades. I learned a few things about the war that I didn't anticipate - mostly about the plight of displaced persons and the way that Hitler was influenced by Wagner's operas. I'm rather embarrassed to say that I had no idea he pretty much used Wagner's masterpieces as a sort of soundtrack for his cause. I also like that Goyer worked into the story line the fact that many soldiers were so young when they joined the military, they had not yet graduated from high school. During the course of the war, they matured from boys to men, rid the world of an unspeakable evil, and yet didn't have the education to get a decent job. After all they had been through, they still had to tackle algebra!

Both central characters, Betty and Frank, are easy to like. Betty is sensitive and empathetic, with a gift for putting others at ease. Despite her youth, she has a strong sense of self and a determination to help others and generally do the right thing. She would be a steadfast and loyal friend. Frank's work as a war photographer provides a means and a cover for his more critical job gathering intelligence for the military, and that dangerous responsibility has also aided him in shielding his heart from love. Neither Frank nor Betty are actually looking for love but, when they meet, each can't help but wonder if the time isn't right after all.

So, what did I think about the Christian aspect of the book? I think Goyer did a terrific job of creating characters whose faith is central to their lives without actually preaching to the reader. Frank and Betty each draw strength and comfort from their faith. They occasionally ask for help or offer prayers of thanks. Goyer deftly made their faith a part of their personalities but only an aspect of the story. There's no proselytizing in this book; rather, Frank and Betty are examples of good, caring people who happen to be Christian.
Click here to read an excerpt.

Leave a comment on Tricia’s blog or send an email through her website CONNECT page and answer this question: What era in history do you wish you'd lived in and why?

Earn extra entries by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here, becoming a Fan on Facebook or Tweeting about the contest on Twitter (use hashtag #songbird)!

You’ll be entered to win one of three signed copies of Songbird Under a German Moon.

Click here to visit the author's website.
 About the author (from the publisher):
Tricia Goyer is an award-winning author of twelve novels, more than 300 articles and six nonfiction books. In researching for her WWII novels, Tricia has interviewed over one hundred veterans and service women involved in support efforts. She has also traveled to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria for research. She lives with her husband and three children in Kalispell, Montana.

Click here to visit other websites on this blog tour.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy at LitFuse Publicity
for organizing this tour and providing me with my review copy.


Book Dilettante said...

I like the title of the novel; glad you enjoyed it! Here's my book tour review: THE WRITING ON MY FOREHEAD by Nafisa Haji - review of women's fiction, multicultural novel.

Darlene said...

This sounds like a really good book. One I would like. I really enjoy Christian fiction.

Zibilee said...

I feel much the same way about Christian fiction as you do. I want to enjoy the stories and learn more about faith, but I really don't like it when I feel preached to or the message is heavy handed. One book that I think you might like is called In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garret. It is the second in a series (the first of which I haven't read yet) and I just loved it. No heavy handedness at all! If you do read it, I hope you enjoy it!

librarypat said...

Sounds interesting. That was a time a place of possibilities and dangers.