The following items are available at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road. For more information on the library’s collection or to reserve a title, visit hcplibrary.org.
“The Chilbury Ladies Choir,” by Jennifer Ryan
As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II, and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the vicar’s edict to close the choir and instead resurrect themselves as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. The choir members include a widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local wealthy citizen drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past. Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front.
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“The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars,” by Daniel Beer
From the beginning of the nineteenth century until the Russian Revolution, the Tsars exiled more than one million prisoners and their families to Siberia, known as “the vast prison without a roof.” It became a dumping ground for criminals but also a colony. In theory, Russia’s criminals would be transformed into hardy frontiersmen and settlers; but in reality, Siberia became populated with an army of destitute and desperate vagabonds. Expecting Siberia to provide the ultimate quarantine against rebellion, the Tsars condemned generations of republicans, nationalists and socialists to oblivion thousands of kilometers from Moscow. They transformed Siberia into a laboratory of revolution. Exile became the defining experience for the men and women who would one day rule the Soviet Union.