Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion
Featuring stories by: Alyson Richman, Jenna Blum, Sarah McCoy,
Melanie Benjamin, Sarah Jio, Erika Robuck, Kristina McMorris,
Amanda Hodgkinson, Pam Jenoff, and Karen White
Paperback, 368 pages
July 1, 2014
Genre: Short-Story Anthology
Source: Received as a gift from my 2014 Book Blogger Secret Santa
“A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform…
A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother…
A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room…
On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.
Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….”
Of all of the authors presented in this collection, the only one that I had read any of their individual works was Pam Jenoff, who I really did enjoy. However, the authors included in this collection were not what drew me to this book. I was extremely intrigued by the concept of an anthology that actively strives to have a cohesive topic; in this case, a certain date after the end of the WWII in the Grand Central Terminal. I had recently read A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by a collection of authors which was another anthology which revolved around the event of the destruction of Pompeii, and I was excited to see another take on this style of book.
One of the greatest strengths of this book is how the stories all cover different life situations as affected by the war. Among the characters encountered are: GI coming home from war to the life he left behind, a woman afraid of the return of her husband from the war, German and Jewish refugees from Europe, a female pilot, and a Lebensborn Program mother. I felt that I learned so many different aspects of life during and after the war that I had not known about before. These characters were so different from each other and so individualized. Some of their stories are just so heartbreaking, while others are so full of hope for a better life. They will definitely pull at your heartstrings and you might even shed a tear or two.
I LOVED how the iconic train station itself was so fleshed out that it was a character all of its own. There were areas of the stations featured that I never knew existed, like the Kissing Room, the Biltmore Hotel above, an a movie theatre as well as other iconic areas such as the Whispering Gallery and the Oyster Bar. Throughout the course of these stories you come away feeling like you have personally toured the station, even if you have never been there.
While reading, I was constantly on the lookout for the intersection of characters from the other stories – and you do see them in passing. A man who plays the violin from the first story is commented on by a couple other characters, for instance. However, they do not actually engage with each other to a very great extent. I would have liked a little bit more in this manner – but I might just have been spoiled by the level of interaction in A Day of Fire.
My favorite story, was the last – “The Harvest Season”. It had some twists that I didn’t expect and I quickly connected to these characters. Their stories could have ended up a couple different ways and I really liked the result. Karen White will be an author I keep my eyes open for.
I was very impressed with the cohesiveness of this collection and enjoyed it very much. I would highly recommend this to any WWII history fan. I hope to see more of these types of collections in the future (I have heard of 2 others in the works).
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