Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland is based on the author's true family story. The novel takes place in 1934 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and is told through the eyes of nine-year-old Gussie, Florence's niece. Florence Adler is a swimming star and determined to be the first Jewish woman to swim the English Channel. During a practice swim in the Atlantic Ocean a tragic accident occurs resulting in Florence's death. Florence's mother, Esther, decides to keep the news about her death from Florence's very pregnant sister, Fannie, who is in the hospital on bedrest. Fannie has already lost one baby and Esther does not want to cause her any additional stress. An elaborate scheme is hatched to keep the secret. I highly recommend this book. You will not be able to put it down. Read more about this engrossing book at Simon and Schuster.
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende is another masterpiece from one of my favorite writers. Allende tells the story of over 2,000 refugees that fled Spain for Chile during the occupation by Franco and his Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. Many of the refugees were personally selected by the famous Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda to cross the ocean on the S.S. Winnipeg in which he chartered for the voyages. Allende novel spans the years from 1938 to 1994. She weaves Neruda's poetry throughout the book. I enjoyed this book for the storytelling and the poetry, making this book a powerful read. NPR has a wonderful review, 'A Long Petal of the Sea' Finds Love in a Time of Chaos by Marcela Davidson Aviles.