Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Editor's Picks, Historical Fiction

The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

I have been fascinated with history since I was a child. Learning about people and events from the past has helped me better understand my own life and the world around me. While there can be a temptation to look back at a period of history and think that issues were simpler or clearer, for the people living those events there was no 20/20 hindsight, only uncertainty and struggle. For this reason, I was curious to explore the lives, past and present, touched by Katherine Reay’s The London House. Because I enjoy dual-timeline historical fiction and epistolary narratives, this latest work by an author of literary-themed contemporary novels went to the top of my reading list

In present day Boston, Caroline Payne is contacted by a former college friend, Mat Hammond, who is preparing to publish an article about her great-aunt Caroline (Caro) Waite’s clandestine activities and subsequent betrayal of her country, defecting with her German lover and Continue reading “The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  “

Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Every Word Unsaid: A Novel, by Kimberly Duffy — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote that “not all those who wander are lost.” That is certainly true for some; for others, they have convinced themselves they are on a mission, all the while searching for a true purpose. It is this concept, as well as the topic of another of Tolkien’s classic lines— “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”—that is explored in Kimberly Duffy’s latest historical fiction novel, Every Word Unsaid.

In the America of the late 1890s, Augusta Travers is on a mission to prove to herself, her family, and society’s naysayers that a woman can be an adventurer. “Nothing brought [her] more joy than slipping away.” (Loc 37) With her Kodak camera, she travels around the country, documenting her escapades with photographs and whimsical depictions in the popular column she writes anonymously for a ladies’ magazine. Her readers “expected greater things from Gussie than her own family, who only wanted her to marry well.” (Loc 209) Her elite, social-climbing New York family not only Continue reading “Every Word Unsaid: A Novel, by Kimberly Duffy — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

A Bright Young Thing: A Novel, by Brianne Moore — A Review  

From the desk of Katie Patchell:

I have a question for you, fellow bibliophiles: Have you read P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves series? Written between 1915 and 1974, this series of short stories and novels is a sometimes biting (yet always fun) satire of Britain’s posh upper class. Starring wealthy and hapless Bertie Wooster and his much-put-upon butler, Jeeves, these stories dazzle with Wodehouse’s charming turn of phrase and list of characters with bizarre surnames. There’s a brilliant adaptation as well, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, that further brings to life these wonderful characters and their times. Brianne Moore’s 2021 release, A Bright Young Thing, echoes the glamour and glitz of the aristocratic set that Wodehouse immortalized. In this novel, readers meet a heroine who lives up to the title’s moniker–but who, like all of us, is so much more than merely a label or stereotype. Continue reading “A Bright Young Thing: A Novel, by Brianne Moore — A Review  “

Book Previews, Historical Fiction

Preview & Cover Reveal of Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner

Hello dear readers, I am so pleased to share a first look at a forthcoming historical fiction novel from bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner. Bloomsbury Girls releases on May 17, 2022, and I am so thrilled to reveal the first details of the novel and its beautiful cover with you today.

I had the honor of reading an early manuscript of Bloomsbury Girls and I instantly fell in love with the story and its colorful, humorous, and feisty female booksellers determined to forge their way in business, and in love, in post-World War Two London.

Here is a special message from author Natalie Jenner who shares with us the inspiration of her new novel, followed by the cover reveal, and the official book description from the publisher. Continue reading “Preview & Cover Reveal of Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fiction

In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review

There is something about royalty that is so fascinating to me. What would it be like to be born into a world of privilege and power? How do they live? Who are their friends? What are their secrets?

The British royal family is my favorite, so I jumped at the chance to read In Royal Service to the Queen, by Tessa Arlen. Based on actual events and real people, the story is told from the perspective of governess Marion Crawford. Her charges were the royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose Windsor. What she experienced while working for and living with the royal family could give me an insider’s view of the dreams, disappointments, and triumphs of the famous family. Telling this story in a fictionalized account is a tremendous challenge. Daunting, really. I was curious to see if Arlen could pull it off.

Marion Crawford was a young Scottish woman when she accepted a summer job in 1931 as the governess to Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, the two young daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York. This would evolve into a permanent position in the household of the second son of King George V who would later become king when his brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. We briefly touch upon this critical time in the life of Bertie and his wife Elizabeth who never expected to be elevated to the highest position in the land. Continue reading “In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review”

Austenesque, Book Lists, Contemporary Fiction, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Historical Books of 2020

Pop Art Jane Austen

Happy New Year dear readers!

While I am not shy about kicking 2020 to the curb, it was not a total bust for those of us who enjoy reading. Publishers and indie authors continued to supply us with a fabulous selection of choices in the Austenesque, historical fiction, romance, and mystery genres.

Of the 75 books that were reviewed here last year by our dedicated staff, several were outstanding and will remain favorites. Here is a list of our highest-rated and most cherished of 2020. Follow each link to read the full review. Continue reading “Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Historical Books of 2020”

Author Interviews, Historical Fiction

Q&A and Blog Tour with Rachel McMillan, Historical Fiction Author of The London Restoration

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillian 2020Hello gentle readers. Summer is in full swing here at Woodston Cottage. My hydrangeas, anemones, and roses are blooming. We had a heatwave over the weekend that sent this hot weather wimp inside and under a fan!

Today I am so happy to welcome bestselling author Rachel McMillian to Austenprose for an exclusive interview in celebration of her latest historical fiction novel, The London Restoration, which just released this week.

Rachel is a multitalented writer who is happiest when she is lost in history researching her latest novel. She has written two historical mystery series: the Herringford and Watts mysteries set in 1910 in Toronto, Canada, and A Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries set in 1937, Boston, USA. Recently, she has branched out into nonfiction too with Dream, Plan, and Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Your Independent Adventure (2020), and her Continue reading “Q&A and Blog Tour with Rachel McMillan, Historical Fiction Author of The London Restoration”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fiction

Bronte’s Mistress: A Novel, by Finola Austin — A Review

Brontes Mistress by Finola Austin 2020From the desk of Molly Greeley:

The mystique of the Brontë sisters hasn’t lessened in the years since they wrote their extraordinary novels. Their brother Branwell is remembered by history less for his literary talents than for his notorious addictions, and for the alleged affair he had with his pupil’s mother, Lydia Robinson. In Brontë’s Mistress, Finola Austin explores this affair from Lydia’s perspective with both compassion and a good writer’s capacity to empathically—and mercilessly—depict her characters as fully-realized people, at both their best and their worst.ë

Lydia is the original Mrs. Robinson, and not only in name: a mother of five, trapped in a marriage with a cold and unaffectionate man, unfulfilled by the narrow role deemed socially acceptable for women, and desperate for love and attention, she finds herself drawn to her son’s tutor, the handsome, poetic, and much-younger-than-she-is Branwell Brontë. Continue reading “Bronte’s Mistress: A Novel, by Finola Austin — A Review”

Book Previews, Historical Fiction

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Brontë’s Mistress: A Novel, by Finola Austin

Brontes Mistress by Finola Austin 2020Hey-ho dear readers. How is your summer going so far? What have you been reading?

My TBR pile is still out of control, but I have managed to enjoy several very diverse genres from romcoms to Austenesque to nonfiction writing books. I have Indulged my “imagination in every possible flight,” and I have no regrets. Reading books, watching movies, and gardening have been my salvation during these troubling times.

Top on my list of fabulous new books is Brontë’s Mistress, an amazing historical fiction novel brought to life by the meticulous research and searing prose of Finola Austin. This dazzling debut story explores the scandalous love affair between Branwell Brontë, brother of the famous literary sisters, and Lydia Robinson, a married woman, mother, and employer of Branwell, her son’s innocent tutor. Continue reading “A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Brontë’s Mistress: A Novel, by Finola Austin”