A Woman's Voice

Book Reviews ~ The Reach of the Banyan Tree

Mark Sasse

The Reach of the Banyan Tree by Author Mark W. Sasse

I am fast becoming a huge fan of talented Author Mark W. Sasse. “The Reach of the Banyan Tree” is the third fictional novel that I’ve read by him and I have thoroughly enjoyed all three. I can certainly see his love and fascination for Vietnam because as in Beauty Rising the setting for this novel takes place there as well. As usual the description of the landscape and surroundings are phenomenal and easy to picture in one’s own mind.

The protagonist is Charles Regal Carson III, better known as Chip to his friends. His father is the owner of the Carson Oil Company in Texas which Chip wants no part of, therefore, he decides to work in Thai Nguyen, northern Vietnam for a more noble cause. While there, he meets the love of his life, Thuy. After two years of getting to know each other and eventually falling in love, Chip asks Thuy to marry him. She is more than willing but not without the approval/consent of her father whom she knows will not look favorably upon this union. He fought against the Americans during the Vietnam War and feels this marriage would bring nothing but grief to his little family. Thuy is very loyal to her family with only one younger brother by the name of Quat who is very taken with Chip. He sees him as his big American brother and has every desire to be just like him. His love and admiration for Chip is returned by Chip as he takes Quat under his wing and treats him much the same. After a celebration for Thuy’s twenty second birthday when much revelry and rice wine are enjoyed, most of the celebrants jump on their motorcycles and head home regardless of their drunken state. Although he has some misgivings in doing so, Chip is one of them. Then, the unthinkable occurs and the storyline unfolds in a mesmerizing way…

This well-written and captivating romantic novel with a large dose of history thrown in is both captivating and unpredictable. Once I got started I could hardly put it down. The wide cast of characters masterfully added to the story line by Author Mark W. Sasse only serves to prove what a great writer he is. If this makes sense, I had the mixed feelings of wanting to get to the end of this novel and also not wanting it to end. It would be most enjoyable if there was a sequel to this novel as this one adeptly demonstrates the combination of both heart-wrenching and heart-warming events at the same time. “The Reach of the Banyan Tree” certainly left me wanting more!

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte


Book Reviews ~ The Luck of the Weissensteiners

ChristophImmediately after reading the book description of this fictional novel, I very much wanted to read the book in its entirety. I realize that “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” by talented Author Christoph Fischer is classified as a fictional novel but words can barely describe how much more it is than that…his style of writing is seasoned, well-researched, captivating, and true-to-life. It brings back memories of my first encounter as a young school girl with the heart wrenching plight of the Jewish people when I read “The Diary of Anne Frank”.

Author Christoph Fischer has such an incredible gift. He is able to quietly and softly bring his reading audience into the lives of his characters and touch their hearts in a memorable and profound way. In 1933, Greta with her kind and gentle manner accepts Wilhelm’s offer of marriage after she becomes with child. At the onset of their relationship, he is smitten with her as she visits the book store where he is employed. He persistently pursues this beautiful, intelligent, young Jewish woman with unabashed veracity. She is also aware of this handsome, blond, German man who has definitely piqued her curiosity and eventually succumbs to his amorous advances.

After their quick marriage, she stoically adapts to a life on the farm which she has never before experienced. She makes every effort to fit in with Wilhelm’s immediate family as well as be at the mercy of the often times harsh and cold reception of his extended family, Johanna and Benedikt. Wilhelm soon finds himself in the midst of emotional turmoil. He is married to a Jewish woman who has given him an Aryan looking, golden headed boy just like himself. With the rise of Hitler and anti-Semitism, he feels his half Jewish son, three year old Karl, is no longer safe in Bratislava. Greta is now pregnant again and Wilhelm’s first reaction is to protect his little family and leave this unsettling situation. It’s sad to say that Wilhelm eventually buys into some of the anti-Jewish propaganda and starts to believe in their faulty genetic makeup. With the help and persuasion of Johanna, he decides to do the unthinkable…

Greta, on the other hand, faces the challenges she is now confronted with in her usual honourable, stoic, and admirable manner. Many unexpected twists and turns take place in the lives of the Weissensteiners as their “luck” continues to protect them and keep them safe from Jewish deportation. Johanna’s previously hard and cold heart is in the process of being thawed as she experiences the gentleness of Jonah…Greta’s father. Johanna is drawn to the love and acceptance she encounters in the midst of this forgiving, loving, and embracing family. In many ways, Johanna now desires far more to emulate this devoted family rather than shun them like she has in the past. Much to her surprise and confusion, this reaction is an unexpected and unprecedented change of heart. It is very apparent that the Weissensteiners have the ability to touch many hearts including the Countess and her friends…

This touching novel has certainly left its mark on me. Early in the morning…I eagerly rose to read a few more chapters before I started my day. In the evening before bed time, I engaged in the same activity with not wanting to miss a word in this captivating epic story with plenty of historical facts and authenticity to make every word penned remarkably believable and enticing. I was so expertly drawn into the story line in this incredible novel that I felt mesmerized by the cast of characters depicted…how their lives were intertwined and how their stories unfolded. This historical novel is such a wonderful and enjoyable read. Thank you to Author Christoph Fischer for sharing his talent with all of us! Simply put…I loved this book!

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

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