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Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.

Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#1 by Acwoolet
» 02 May 2017, 12:46

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Portrait of Stella" by Susan Wüthrich.]

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4 out of 4 stars
Review by Acwoolet
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Portrait of Stella, written by Susan Wuthrich is a historical fiction novel involving intrigue, deception, and discovering the road to which one came from. Growing up, Jemima Ashton always believed her life was straight forward, lacking any skeletons in her family’s closet. However, as an adult she discovers that her knowledge of her family’s past is far from the truth, which in turn sends her off on a wild adventure through time.

When Jemima Ashton attempts to renew her passport, she discovers the renewal will be impossible due to the fact that her birth certificate has been faked and her entire existence is no where to be found in any UK data base. Completely flabbergasted by this turn of events, she begins her search with her late parents records only to discover even more questions of her existence. With little information to go on she is figuratively thrown back into World War II to trace her mother’s footsteps into the heart of South Africa. With each new finding come heart-wrenching experiences, yet heart-warming discoveries also begin to flow freely.

Portrait of Stella is a well-written novel of self-discovery, which teaches us that at any age we are able to learn more about ourselves than we could have ever thought possible. While such discoveries can cause great anxiety and self-doubt if one allows them to do so, they can also teach us that we are capable of a great deal more than we had ever imagined.

The novel switches between first person narration of Jemima and her mother, Stella, depending on the decade in which the narration is taking place. The majority of the novel jumps between Jemima’s adulthood in the mid-1980’s to the time of her mother during World War II and the decades soon after, although there are a couple of more modern jumps at the beginning and at the end of the novel. While there are many time jumps throughout the novel, they are very well marked and aren’t at all confusing. There are a quite a few jumps in location too, although each one is beautifully described, especially the country of South Africa, which goes in depth to all of the political and racial experiences going on throughout the country. The secondary characters are a large part of the heart of the novel, furthering along each discovery and only add to the experience.

I felt like the first few chapters were a little more slow going than the rest of the novel, mainly due to trying to introduce a lot of ideas and characters at once. However, the rest of the novel flows very well and did a very good job of keeping my interest. The main characters were incredibly interesting and had plenty of self-growth throughout the novel, along with plenty of strong dialogue. In the end I was very satisfied with the novel and didn’t feel as if it lacked any closure.

Although the first couple chapters felt slow to me, the rest of the novel was wonderful. I don’t really have any complaints against it, so I give Portrait of Stella a 4 out of 4 stars. It’s definitely a worthwhile read, especially for those who love the World War II era.

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Portrait of Stella
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Re: Official Review: Portrait of Stella by

Post Number:#2 by Amagine
» 04 May 2017, 08:42

I love that even though it is a fiction book, it is still one that teaches readers a valuable lesson on ourselves. I love books that are about self discovery because that translates to me that there must be some great character development in the story.
There's no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books."-James Patterson
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Re: Official Review: Portrait of Stella by

Post Number:#3 by kandscreeley
» 04 May 2017, 09:02

Wow! This sounds very interesting. I don't know how I would feel if my entire existence had been faked. Thanks for the review!
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Re: Official Review: Portrait of Stella by

Post Number:#4 by Lest92
» 04 May 2017, 18:17

Hey, South Africa! I think the discovery that her existence is nowhere on record is an interesting twist - I might have to look into this one. Thank you for your informative review:)
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Re: Official Review: Portrait of Stella by

Post Number:#5 by Jaime Lync
» 05 May 2017, 19:11

This book sounds lovely. There is both heart-wrencing and heart-warming involved. Lol. I also like that you said that the dialogue is strong in this one. I think realistic dialogue is really hard to write but when it is done it is simply amazing.
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Re: Official Review: Portrait of Stella by

Post Number:#6 by Kitkat3
» 06 May 2017, 14:06

I'm excited to find out what happened! I like that you say that the transitions between time periods and settings are smooth. Thanks for the review.
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#7 by Nthabeleng
» 12 May 2017, 13:28

I'm not a fan of anything historical but the way you reviewed this book makes me want to read it and the fact that it talk about where I come from... I think this might be my net book. Thanks for the good review.
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#8 by adampaarma_1
» 12 May 2017, 16:28

Great job. Keep it up!
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#9 by CatInTheHat
» 12 May 2017, 18:09

This sounds like an intriguing read. I love the concept, I don't think it's one that's been overdone as I can't think of another one like it off of the top of my head.
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#10 by LivreAmour217
» 16 May 2017, 04:22

This sounds like a great book. I happen to be going through a period of self-discovery right now, although it's nothing like Jemima's (I'm pretty that my identity is legit, lol). Thank you for this wonderful review!
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#11 by aliya kanwal
» 16 May 2017, 06:51

it was great pleasure reading it
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#12 by Nightwing3
» 19 May 2017, 13:21

Wow. I'm not usually a fan of time switching books. If as you say the transitions are smooth, I really like the idea of this book. A faked identity and self discovery combined with strong dialogue. It sounds like a must read for me. Thanks!
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#13 by roxy34
» 20 May 2017, 17:42

that was an interesting story
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Re: Featured Review: Portrait of Stella

Post Number:#14 by Janien van Rooyen
» Yesterday, 04:30

Sounds like a great book. Might just be next on my shelf to read 🙂
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