Bliss, Remembered by Frank Deford
What I drank prior: plenty of white wine. Had a lovely Netflix party while watching Charlie’s Angels (the one with Lucy Liu who remains super cool)
At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the beautiful Sydney Stringfellow begins an intense love affair with a German, but the affair abruptly ends when political forces tear them apart.
Drunk Overview: woman tells her son about her stint as a swimmer in the 1936 Olympics though its more about how she met his father. Theres a tryst with a German man during the beginnings of WWII but that ends after a long correspondce. She marries a good American boy instead.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I was so worried the narrators dad was going to be a Nazi. But really this book feels like a cautionary tale for current times. A good portion fo the book was focused on Germany and their various ways of keeping both their nation and the world focused on different things so their atrocities would go unnoticed. In fact its even blatantly mentioned in the book that the lavish parties were intended to make them seem legitimate.
Characters: Sydney, the main character, was a delight. She was sharp and witty and exactly the kind of character you would want this book to be about. The German boy and the American boy she got involved with didn’t quite mesh with what I wanted. And thats mostly because at times they seemed so idolized through Sydneys eyes that they didnt feel complete. though at least some of that was due to thenfact she was a teenager for large portions of the book. The son/narrator wasnt actually much of the story which I didnt really mind. He needed to be the blankncanvas for the rest of the story. I loved loved loved Eleanor, Sydney’s mentor.
Plot: i feel like I covered this. I figured out a major plot point very early which made this feel kind of like it wasnon tracks, but I still enjoyed the journey. There were some hints all along that made this book feel a little more like a puzzle, which I enjiyed. Theres nothing worse than a mystery where the ending comes out of nowhere. Really this book was well constructed, adding in characters at the right time, though Inwouldnt have minded slightly quicker pacing, Im having trouble pointong to whay exactly I woild have cut.
Writing Style: Im always a little wary of older person telling story to younger person as a format. I thinks its very easy for it to go wrong. (Also I hate the “and we’re done for the day” thing to add suspense in the middle especially when the information imparted wouldnt have taken up nearly the amount of time purported to have passed) but I think this book did a decent job of it.
World building: fine. I probably shouldnt be, but worlf building for a book thats set on Earth during history needs to be really good to blow ke away. There were some great details and the world building was fine. I didnt feel like they were banking on people to know what the world was like before WWII, which is nice.
What to pair it with: Sherry. It aeems like the kind if book that needs a somewhat quaint drink.
Rating: 3.5/5 Shots