Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams

From Goodreads: When sisters Sadie and Zuzu Brooks move to Salt Lake City, they discover a secret room in the attic of their new house, with a sign that reads "Palace Beautiful" and containing an old journal. Along with their neighbor, dramatic Belladonna Desolation (real name: Kristin Smith), they take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen living during the flu epidemic of 1918. The journal ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu's lives, and the girls become obsessed with finding out what happened to Helen after the journal ends. Did she survive the flu? Is she still alive somewhere? Or could her ghost be lurking in the nearby graveyard?

Sarah DeFord Williams has created a gripping read that covers two time periods, many fantastic characters, and a can't-put-it-down ending, all with delightful, extraordinary prose.

From Heather:  I love stories like this!  History fascinates me and I love thinking about the lives of people that have gone on before.  This story was so much fun to read.  

I loved Sadie.  She is very artistic and many of her descriptions are very colorful.  I love the way she invents new names for colors: skinned-elbow red, roll-in-the-dirt brown, used-to-be-white, bridesmaid-mauve or grandma's-talcum-powder-blue.  

I loved Belladonna Desolation.  What a funny, funky character.  I worried about her through the book, though, and was glad to see a change in her circumstance by the end of the book.

And I really loved Helen.  Helen was the girl that left the journal in the crawl space in 1918.  She talks about her family and what happened to them during the flu epidemic.  She comes alive in the pages of the book and it's so much fun to think about her life and compare it to Sadie's. 

The book does explore some pretty deep emotions, but in a good way.  Sadie's mom died when her little sister Zuzu was born and Sadie is still working through those feelings; Bella has her own troubles and sad feelings to deal with; even Zuzu has her struggles.  And then you get Helen's troubles which would be hard for anyone to deal with.  Even with all the sadness, the book is positive and uplifting and a wonderful read.

I gave it 4 1/2 stars.  I really, really liked it!


Jillian said...

Sounds like a fun read, one that I wouldn't have known about had you not reviewed it. Thanks :)

Mandi Tucker Slack said...

How fun! This sounds like a great book!

Sarah said...

Wow! I just happened to stumble on this review! I'm so glad you loved the book, and thank you for giving it such a wonderful review!

-Sarah DeFord Williams