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The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In this emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five of these women.

They are strangers at the start, but their lives will become inextricably intertwined, altered in indelible ways. These very different Gold Star Mothers travel to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to say final good-byes to their sons and come together along the way to face the unexpected: a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.

None of these pilgrims will be as affected as Cora Blake, who has lived almost her entire life in a small fishing village off the coast of Maine, caring for her late sister’s three daughters, hoping to fill the void left by the death of her son, Sammy, who was killed on a scouting mission during the final days of the war. Cora believes she is managing as well as can be expected in the midst of the Depression, but nothing has prepared her for what lies ahead on this unpredictable journey, including an extraordinary encounter with an expatriate American journalist, Griffin Reed, who was wounded in the trenches and hides behind a metal mask, one of hundreds of "tin noses" who became symbols of the war.

With expert storytelling, memorable characters, and beautiful prose, April Smith gives us a timeless story, by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, set against a footnote of history - little known, yet unforgettable.

©2014 April Smith (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

" A Star for Mrs. Blake is a beautifully written, meticulously researched slice of American history. April Smith’s poignant and tender story of five courageous World War I Gold Star mothers’ amazing journey across the sea is one you will never forget." (Fannie Flagg)
"A heartfelt glimpse into a little-known episode in U.S. history... Smith’s historical fiction is captivating and enlightening." (Deborah Donovan, Booklist)
"Captivating... Smith captures the mothers’ interactions in beautiful detail and delves into the government’s not-entirely-altruistic reasons for sponsoring the trip." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about A Star for Mrs. Blake

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  • sharon
  • 01-07-14

Boring Did not finish it

Hoped for a good listen as the synopsis sounded good. Listened for @1 1/2 hours and grew bored . Did not finish it .Unfamiliar with the author but would not get another by her.

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  • vtkelley
  • 11-06-14

A bit lengthy

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I think it could have been shortened without taking away from the story. It got to the point where I was just ready for it to be done

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I found the historical aspects of the story very interesting. I must admit I haven't read much about WWI and enjoyed listening to the battles and hearing about the battle locations.

Have you listened to any of Bernadette Dunne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't heard any of her other performances.

Do you think A Star for Mrs. Blake needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, the story was resolved.

1 person found this helpful