Book Love

Book Review: The Discovery

Last week I posted a photo of some books from my to-read stack. Today I’m going to share my review of one of those books, The Discovery by Dan Walsh.

The DiscoveryI’ve read two of Walsh’s previous novels, The Unfinished Gift and The Homecoming. They were both set in the World War II era, so The Discovery is a bit different from those because it’s set in modern times. But – Walsh still shares his love of WWII tales with us because The Discovery actually is a story within a story.

Here’s part of the back cover blurb:

When aspiring writer Michael Warner inherits his grandfather’s venerable Charleston estate, he settles in to write his first novel. But within the confines of the stately home, he discovers an unpublished manuscript that his grandfather, a literary giant whose novels sold in the millions, had kept hidden from everyone – but which he clearly intended Michael to find. As he delves deep into the exciting tale about spies and sabotage, Michael discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

So … an aspiring novelist, a story set in Charleston, and some spies and sabotage. The combination hooked me from the get-go.

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The top of the St. Augustine, Fla., lighthouse. I learned a lot about World War II spies when we visited a few years ago. Some of those same things were in The Discovery.

You’re about 60 pages into the book before Michael comes across his grandfather’s hidden manuscript. From there, The Discovery alternates between Michael’s present-day life and the story within the old manuscript – which you read along with Michael in its entirety. I felt like the “hidden” story dragged a bit in a few places, but it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop reading. I think it was partly because I anticipated some things and was ready for them to happen. But at least I didn’t jump to the ending to make sure things worked out like I wanted.

Basic fiction tools like flashbacks and back story can be tricky to work into a story, and what Walsh attempted here was much bigger than that. But he managed to pull it off and reward his readers with not one enjoyable story, but two. If you’re looking for a novel about young love during World War II that stays more “light” than “grim,” The Discovery could be worth checking out.

Your turn: What good World War II novels have you read? Do you have a favorite author who writes about that time frame?

And … I had the chance to interview Dan Walsh on the Novel Pastimes blog when his debut novel, The Unfinished Gift, was released. You can read Day 1 of the interview here and Day 2 here.

Book Love

Book Review: The Unfinished Gift

First off, let me say I’m not losing my mind to be posting a book review of a Christmas story two weeks after the celebration. But I read The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh right at Christmastime and didn’t have time to write a review. And since we as Christians should remember — and celebrate — the precious gift of Christmas every day, there’s nothing wrong with extending the Christmas season, right?

The Unfinished Gift is Walsh’s debut novel and tells the story of a boy named Patrick Collins during the Christmas of 1943. Patrick’s father Shawn is in Europe fighting in World War II and his mother was just killed in an auto accident. Patrick is taken to stay with his Grandfather Ian Collins until his dad can return home. But Patrick’s arrival is anything but welcome, thanks to a longstanding feud and old misunderstandings between Ian and Shawn. Thank goodness for Mrs. Fortini next door who takes Patrick under her wing and showers him with the love his grandfather seems incapable of giving.

Patrick is a sensitive boy and Ian Collins is a bitter old man. The changes that bring them to terms with each other unfold realistically and are enjoyable to follow. I’ll admit I had an idea where the story was headed and think (or hope!) I know what kinds of things might be in store with its sequel, The Homecoming, that’s due out in June. But The Unfinished Gift was a sweet story (without being over the top) that I would certainly recommend and would read again. It just might become a Christmas reading tradition.