Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: A Snug Life Somewhere by Jan Shapin

A Snug Life Somewhere by Jan Shapin

Completed: February 24, 2014
Length: 296 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A Snug Life Somewhere is about Penny Joe Copper, daughter of a roustabout shingle weaver, who is caught up in a 1916 union tragedy known as the Everett Massacre. Her brother Horace is killed, as is the cousin of a radical organizer, Gabe. When her love affair with Marcel, a music student seven years her junior, is thwarted, she is pulled into Gabe as campaign to avenge the Everett Martyrs.She follows Gabe to Mexico (where they live in a household of Bolsheviks bent on smuggling jewels), then to Chicago (where she rediscovers Marcel, steals a Faberge egg and escapes from Gabe). Then a second event intervenes at the Seattle General Strike of 1919. Penny Joe returns to Seattle to confront Gabe and meets up with a mysterious stranger who turns out to be J. Edgar Hoover. Should she give the Faberge egg to Hoover as evidence against Gabe or just disappear and start a new life? Is she ever going to reunite with her lost love, Marcel?
Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre? Historical Fiction.

What Lead You to Pick up This Book?: I read a review copy from the author as part of a TLC book tour. When Trish told me about her tours, she told me if I could only do one to pick this one. Historical fiction set during the early 20th-century? Of course!

Summarize the Plot: The novel follows Penny Joe Copper. She is the daughter of a shingle weaver father and a mother that she doesn't see eye-to-eye with. When her father is arrested, she finds herself following after her brother Horace who has gone to university in Chicago. When her brother is killed, she comes to the attention of one of his 'old' friends, Gabe, whose cousin has also been killed. She quickly discovers that Gabe controls her life now. In many ways now, the novel will centre around this meeting with Gabe and the plans that he has for her.

What Did you Like Most about this book?: I have to admit, I was very interested in a book set around WWI about aspects of history other than WWI. I find that when a book is set during any war it doesn't really branch out very much. It is brave, actually, to write about anything else.  It was great to learn more about other events during that time. The novel really moves forward.

What Did you Like the Least?: There was nothing that really screamed out to me that I disliked.

What Did you Think of the Writing Style?: I have to admit that I really liked the book, but there was something that didn't flow with me and the writing. Do you know what I mean when something bothers you but you can't put your finger on it? It didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. I think it was something that just started to work for me as the book got going.

What Did you Think of the Main Character?: I liked Penny. Sometimes I kind of wanted to give her a shake, but this was the early 20th century after all. Just because you think she is being crazy doesn't mean it was unusual for that time period. It was a very different world than now. I think she was a perfect narrator for this book and I often felt bad for her. That being said, she was constantly aware of her awkward situations and just needed the opportunities to get out of them. She was just lonely!

What Did You Think of the Ending?: I have no complaints. I think it was a fitting to a novel that I was impressed by how much I enjoyed.



  1. Hi Kelly - Thanks for the lovely review. Your thought about books set during war eras is interesting--how the war kind of takes over the story. I like to write about ordinary life in extraordinary (historical) times. After all, ordinary life is the greatest mystery, isn't it? Jan Shapin

  2. This sounds really good! I love the time period and this isn't something I really know that much about. I'm adding this to my TBR

  3. I like this time period, too. Glad you enjoyed this one!

  4. This sounds like something I might like, both the setting and the story itself.

    I have to agree with the author about ordinary life being the greatest mystery. It's those stories that often speak the loudest to me, especially in the middle of bigger historical events.

  5. I like that time period too. This sounds good!

  6. I agree - it's unusual to find a book set in this time period that doesn't focus on the war. Sounds like this is a great read.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  7. Sounds interesting! This is one of my favorite time periods.


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