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28 September 2009

The Puzzle King: A Book Review

Title: The Puzzle King
Author: Betsy Carter
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1565125940

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From the Publisher's website :
On a gray morning in 1936, Flora Phelps stands in line at the American consulate in Stuttgart, Germany. She carries a gift for the consul, whom she will bribe in order to help her family get out of Hitler’s Germany. This is the story of unlikely heroes, the lively, beautiful Flora and her husband, the brooding, studious Simon, two Jewish immigrants who were each sent to America by their families to find better lives. An improbable match, they meet in New York City and fall in love. Simon—inventor of the jigsaw puzzle—eventually makes his fortune. Now wealthy, but still outsiders, Flora and Simon become obsessed with rescuing the loved ones they left behind in Europe whose fates are determined by growing anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic.

Inspired by her family’s legends, Betsy Carter weaves a memorable tale. In the tradition of Suite Française or Amy Bloom's Away, she explores a fascinating moment in history and creates a cast of characters who endure with dignity, grace, and hope for the future.
Copyright © 2009 by Betsy Carter


My Review:
I cannot adequately express how deeply The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter moved me. Her beautiful story grabbed me by the heart from the beginning and kept me engrossed until the very last typed word. I was unable to put this book down, so immersed was I in the lives of Simon Phelps, Flora and Seema Grossman, Margot and Fredrick Ehrlich, and their daughter Edith. The Puzzle King spans the years 1892-1936, which coincides with rising anti-Semitism following the decline of Germany after WWI, the stock market crash in the United States, and the rise of WWII. The Puzzle King begins with 9-year-old Simon Phelps traveling from Lithuania unaccompanied to America to start a new life. His goal, impressed upon him by his mother, is to find a job, earn enough money and make a home for his mother and six siblings. Intertwined with his story are the stories of Flora and Seema Grossman, two sisters who recently immigrated from Germany to America, as well as stories of their family members left behind in Germany. Beautifully mastered, Carter weaves together such an elegant and moving tale of humanity and ultimately, how one person's faith in family saved hundreds of lives. This novel, so rich in detail, will grab the reader's attention, if not the reader's heart, from the start and stay with the reader long after the story has ended.
This novel, is one that will be with me for a long time and I hope others choose to read this beautiful novel and that it too will stay in the hearts and minds of its readers. The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter is indeed a novel I would recommend to everyone.

To learn the background behind the story, to view photos of the real Puzzle King and his family, visit Betsy Carter's website.

My gratitude to Wonders & Marvels for allowing me to preview The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter.

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16 comments:

okbolover said...

Looks like such a great book! and it's a great review. I'll be looking into this one.

MarthaE said...

Jennifer - The book does sound interesting from your good review!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I love books that have this much power on the reader. Excellent review. And I love Wonders and Marvels.

LiveLaughLoveCj said...

Oh Jennifer, this IS a must read, to have moved you and touched you so.

Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Adding it to my TBR Wishlist. I'm gonna make it a point to pick up a copy!

K said...

Lovely review Jennifer.
Adding this to my list. Isn't it great to read books that stay with you for a long long time.

Kim said...

Thank you for this. I'm adding it to "the list".

Marie Burton said...

Awesome, I had a feeling this was a Keeper. I have so many review books as it is, I had to turn this one down. but I'll keep my eyes out for it for my personal library.

Diane said...

This sounds like a great book. The cover is amazing. Glad u enjoyed it!

kaye said...

This sounds like a must read. Thanks for the review

Sun Singer said...

Wonderful review. Now I'm tempted to continue today's quest by going to the author's web site. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about a very tempting book.

Malcolm

Pixie said...

I loved your review. I will be adding this book to my TBR pile. Thanks

bookmagic said...

This looks really good and I love the cover. Thanks for the review!

Phantom Inkheart said...

This sounds like a great book, wonderful review. Definitely going on my TBR list.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

Cym Lowell said...

Welcome to Blog Book Review Wednesday. Thanks to you and others, this party was a huge success!

One more thing, be sure to add my badge (or a link back) to the end of your post. This lets readers know that you are participating in the blog party and makes going back & forth between the reviews easier!

Stay tuned for Friday AM, when I announce the winner of the Amazon GC.

Again, I have enjoyed reading your review! I hope to see you next Wednesday -- More prizes to come!

Warms-CYM

Cym Lowell said...

Thanks for adding my badge to your sidebar :)

ibeeeg said...

This sounds like a book that I should read. Love historical fiction and have not read much in this time-period. Onto my list of to-reads it goes.